The National Scottish Thistle Awards have yielded a rich collection of winners from the north of the country.
The ceremony was held at Edinburgh International Conference Centre with an assembly of 470 people, who revelled in 18 individuals, businesses and events being honoured for their contribution to the tourism sector.
For more than 25 years, the awards have been organised by VisitScotland, and supported by a panel of industry representatives.
The organisation’s regional director, Jo Robinson, said: “The Scottish Thistle Awards give businesses and individuals working within tourism in Scotland the opportunity to earn the recognition and appreciation they deserve from their own industry peers.
“The impact of tourism goes far beyond the holiday experience. It is vital to the Scottish economy, reaching every corner of the country, creating jobs and bringing economic and social change.”
Among the 18 winners was James Ryan from the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre, who won the Tourism & Hospitality Hero award.
Mr Ryan is part of the engagement team at the centre, and his animated descriptions of the battles got him an award at the Regional Scottish Thistle Awards last year.
He was then put forward for the National award and said: “I still feel a little bit overwhelmed, but I feel very proud of myself.”
“I’m really appreciative of all the support I’ve received.”
Tourism is one of Scotland’s biggest incomes, and Mr Ryan is aware of the importance of making tourists feel welcome.
He added: “We open the door for thousands and thousands every year, and we do our very best to make people feel welcomed”
Aberdeen International Airport and its Northern Lights Lounge food and drink suppliers were also recognised, winning the Working Together for Tourism award.
The lounge has welcomed more than 250,000 visitors since it opened in 2017 and works in partnership with local suppliers to highlight the best the north-east has to offer, such as Dean’s shortbread, Mackie’s crisps and The Bay Fishcakes.
The judges praised the entry for their unique and innovative approach as well as their plans for continued growth.
The other two local winners were the Eagle Brae, from Inverness, for the best self-catering accommodation experience and the Salomon Skyline Scotland 2018, for the best sporting event.
Rebecca Brooks, chairwoman of the panel, said: “I would like to extend a huge congratulations to all of the national winners of the 2019-20 Scottish Thistle Awards.”