A pub in Fraserburgh was deemed the friendliest in Scotland at a major awards ceremony for the tourism industry last night.
Hundreds of celebrants in Glasgow toasted the Cheers Cafe Bar and Tavern in Fraserburgh, which was handed a Scottish Thistle award for being the friendliest pub/bar.
Bar owner Dennis Forsyth has added the top national award to a string of recent accolades, including an award for best independent pub/bar in the Scottish Licensed Trade awards scheme in 2013.
Other tourism industry companies in the north also won gongs on the night, snapping up four of the 13 awards celebrating companies that “have gone the extra mile to offer an outstanding visitor experience”.
The Laphroaig Distillery on Islay was heralded as this year’s best visitor attraction at the annual award show.
Kilda Cruises, founded by Harris fisherman Angus Campbell, was recognised as the best adventure experience.
Mr Campbell was instrumental in a record-breaking adventure last year when he ferried Nick Hancock to and from the uninhabited isle of Rockall. Mr Hancock stayed 45 days on the small, barren chunk of granite poking out of the sea, almost 300 miles west of the Scottish mainland.
Meanwhile, a development of Himalayan-style homes between Glen Affric and Glen Strathfarrar won the Thistle award for best holiday accommodation.
Eagle Brae is a development of seven log cabins powered entirely by renewable energy on the Struy Estate near Beauly. With roof covered by wildflowers and grass, the holiday homes owned by Mike Spencer-Nairn and his wife Pawana also won the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards award for Best Holiday Accommodation last year.
Peter Lederer – who was instrumental in bringing the Ryder Cup to Gleneagles – was named the winner of the prestigious Silver Thistle Award, given to an individual who have demonstrated an outstanding contribution to the country’s tourism industry.
Having worked in Scottish tourism for over three decades, the former Chairman of Gleneagles was also recognised for his work in transforming the Perthshire hotel into one of the country’s most luxurious resorts as well as his passion for improving quality, educational standards and training opportunities within the Scottish tourism industry.
Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing, who attended the event last night, said: “The Scottish tourism industry is full of dedicated businesses providing world-class standards that is second to none. Last year we all witnessed Scotland performing at its very best and our welcome and hospitality were recognised right across the globe.”
Stephen Carter, VisitScotland board Member and chairman of the Scottish Thistle Awards industry panel, said: “2014 was an exceptional year for Scottish tourism, it was the year we welcomed the world. I’d like to congratulate all our tourism champions for their dedication and commitment to Scotland’s tourism industry. Tourism is at the heartbeat of the Scottish economy, and all those nominated, are leading the way when it comes to making our country a fantastic place to visit and do business.
“The Scottish Thistle Awards is about celebrating excellence, sharing best practice and inspiring a stronger, more cohesive sector. It is important that we continue to recognise those going the extra mile to enhance the visitor experience.”
The Scottish Thistle Awards is led by several organisations, including VisitScotland, the Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards and the Scottish Licensed Trade Association.