Des Cheyne, director of the Famous Spotty Bag Shop Café, is pictured (left) with Roger Goodyear, chairman of the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival; TV personality and host Kirsten Gove; Ken Massie, head of partnership relations, VisitScotland, and Alastair Fenn, fisheries development officer for the Deveron, Bogie and Isla Rivers Charitable Trust.
THREE Banffshire tourism ventures are celebrating after reaching the national final of the Scottish Thistle Awards.
Portsoy’s Scottish Traditional Boat Festival (best cultural event), the Deveron, Bogie and Isla Rivers Charitable Trust (best nature-based experience) and Banff’s Famous Spotty Bag Shop Café (best café, bar or restaurant) were among the winners in the North-east regional final at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre last week.
They will go on to the national finals in November.
The boat festival attracts around 16,000 visitors to its event every summer, and the Deveron, Bogie and Isla Rivers Charitable Trust has hosted a hugely successful Deveron Fishing Festival for the past two years.
Roger Goodyear, chairman of Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, said: "Winning this award reflects the hard work and excellent efforts of our team of volunteers who are responsible for making the festival happen each year.
"With only a few weeks until the 19th annual event, which takes place on June 23 and 24, organisation is in full swing, and this year’s event is set to be exceptional.
"Every year we aim to raise the bar and truly deliver on our promise to be an event offering something for everyone, and winning this award is true recognition of this and has provided a real boost to the team behind it.
"We are looking forward to the national awards, and it would be fantastic to take this accolade back to Portsoy and share it with the community, without whose support the event would not be where it is today."
Des Cheyne, co-owner of the Famous Spotty Bag Shop, said: "All credit goes to the staff in the café and to Michelle Gault, who is involved in the day-to-day running of the business, for her excellent presentation to the Scottish Thistle Awards."
Organised by VisitScotland, the new format of this year’s awards recognised the exceptional efforts made by even more tourism businesses throughout Scotland.
Ken Massie, head of partnership relations at VisitScotland, who compered the event, said: "Aberdeen and the surrounding area have a great deal to offer visitors in terms of the quality of things to see and do and places to stay."
The Scottish Thistle Awards celebrate excellence across the industry, with special emphasis on quality and enhancing the overall visitor experience.
Mr Massie added: "To make the most of the opportunities presented by the next few years and to capitalise on once-in-a-lifetime milestones like the Olympics, Disney Brave and Glasgow 2014, the tourism industry as a whole needs to be as polished as it can be. This drive for quality is even more important when we are in the international spotlight.
"Businesses need to think about what can help them to shine – whether it’s a Scottish Thistle Award or being graded in our world-leading quality assurance scheme. Now is the time for businesses to do all they can to stay at the top of their game and reap the rewards."