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Argyll and the Isles tourism businesses have been celebrating following the 2018 Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA).
Held in the Kingsmill Hotel in Inverness, in association with SSE, 16 Argyll businesses had been shortlisted and gathered around four tables on the night to cheer on colleagues and celebrate five winners out of 14 categories.
Iain Jurgensen, chairman of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Cooperative (AITC), said: ‘It was a great night for Argyll’s tourism businesses with so many winners and finalists gaining well-deserved recognition for their exemplar businesses.
‘The expertise, passion and confidence underpinning tourism in Argyll is critical as we aim to attract more market share. AITC would like to congratulate all the finalists and winners and thanks the HITA team and indeed the Kingsmill’s team for delivering such an enjoyable event.’
Five trophies made their way back to Argyll with Oban Live winning the Best Cultural Event 2018 and Basking Shark Scotland, also from Oban, winning the best outdoor experience against very stiff competition. Four of the five finalists were from Argyll and Shane and Nikki Wasik’s win was applauded by The Majestic Line, St Hilda Cruises and Nature Scotland on Mull.
John McNulty, of Etive Restaurant in Oban, was joint winner of the Rising Star Trophy and Mull Eagle Watch took to the stage to pick up the trophy for Working Together for Tourism.
Emma Clark of Glenegedale House on Islay was the very proud winner of the Tourism and Hospitality Hero of 2018, with Alice Gill of Lodge on Loch Goil also a finalist in this category.
Fiona Hyslop, the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, attended the event and personally congratulated Emma Clark, whom she had stayed with on Islay during the recent First World War commemoration events.
Emma said: ‘What a fantastic honour to be not only recognised but to go on and win the coveted Hospitality and Tourism Hero at the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards for 2018.
‘This award recognises the dedication given to each and every visitor that comes in contact with myself to making their precious time the best it possibly can be for them while enjoying and visiting our beautiful island within Argyll and the Isles.’
Argyll businesses joined forces to share several Argyll tables for the awards dinner with a special request from AITC to be located together.
Dave Sexton, from Mull Eagle Watch, said: ‘We were literally speechless with surprise when the Award’s Sponsor Highland Council announced Mull Eagle Watch as the winner of the Working Together for Tourism Award.
‘On Mull, our partnership works hard with other businesses, host sites, government agencies, NGOs, Marketing Mull and Iona, AITC and community enterprises to promote Mull as the number one wildlife watching destination in the UK.
‘And the white-tailed eagles as a flagship species help us achieve that. We were so proud to have been there on the night with the rest of Team Argyll and to share in their success.’
The full list of Argyll businesses and individuals who were finalists is as follows.
Portavadie, Loch Fyne; Clan Cottages, Oban; Oban Live; Jura Music Festival; Ninth Wave Restaurant, Mull; St Hilda Sea Adventures, Oban; Basking Shark Scotland, Oban; Nature Scotland, Mull; Majestic Line, Argyll; Glenegedale House, Islay; Mull Eagle Watch; Argyll and the Isles Tourism Cooperative Ltd; John McNulty, Taynuilt Hotel; Emma Clark, Glenegedale House; Alice Gill, Lodge on Loch Goil.
Emma Clark, Basking Shark Scotland, Mull Eagle Watch and Oban Live will now automatically become a finalist in the Scottish Thistle Awards in Glasgow next March.