If you are looking for things to do and places to see as well as enjoying a cruise on Loch Ness, an excellent guide is the winners and those shortlisted in the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards.
This year, there were a record-breaking 232 entries which was whittled down to 55 finalists. They were vying for the awards which celebrate and recognise the best places to eat, drink and enjoy the area’s scenery, hospitality, wildlife history and culture as well as things to do.
The categories included:
- Best Visitor Attraction
- Best Cultural Event or Festival
- Best Outdoor / Adventure Experience
- Best Sporting Event
- Best Heritage Tourism Experience
And they were hotly contested, as was revealed during the awards that were hosted by journalist and columnist Nicky Marr and television historian and writer Ashley Cowie, who was aptly chosen due to it being the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.
Our managing director, Freda Newton MBE, is a member of the awards board along with our blog author Willie “Mr Loch Ness” Cameron. Freda was also chair of the independent panel of judges who had the onerous task of sifting through all the entries before choosing the short list and, eventually, the winners.
Also, their volunteer guide of 10 years, Peter Cowe, won the Tourism and Hospitality Hero award for his high standard of guiding and storytelling about the last battle fought on British soil in 1746.
Culloden is a great visitor attraction and the judges were impressed with the battlefield’s “unwavering desire to re-awaken the past in the present”.
Eilean Donan Castle, which is on the west coast of Scotland and less than an hour from Loch Ness, was voted best heritage tourism experience. You may recognise it as being the castle in that epic movie “Highlander” and it is one of the most photographed castles in Scotland.
Another venue less than an hour from here is Aonach Mor, next to Ben Nevis and Fort William, which won the award for Best Sporting Event for the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup. You can go there and experience the mountain bike trail which has been set up as a thrilling experience.
The collaboration award of Working Together in Tourism went to the Malt Whisky Trail which is another must-do experience.
Best Cultural Experience was the Hebridean Celt Festival, in Stornoway on the island of
Lewis. It brings together the finest of traditional musicians in an iconic setting during the summer. A ferry trip from Ullapool will get you there in no time.
In the words of Rt Hon Fiona Hyslop, Minister of Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, “These awards demonstrate that the iconic attractions, vibrant culture and stunning landscapes of the highlands and islands continue to be an important tourism draw.”
To see the full list of winners and those shortlisted, you can visit the awards website.
And we’d like to give a special mention to the Highland Ambassador for 2017. It is Captain Iain Dunderdale, who has worked for the last 27 years developing the cruise business.
We hope you find some interesting things to do and see within the winners and those shortlisted in the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards. And our team are looking forward to welcoming you on an award-winning cruise.