Five Deeside attractions and events are finalists

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Five Deeside landmarks, businesses and events are among the top attractions flying the flag for the Aberdeenshire region at the national final of Scottish tourism’s equivalent of the Oscars.

A total of 13 winners from Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards are in the running for a coveted national prize in the Scottish Thistle Awards National Final on March 16.

Among those are Braemar Gathering, which will battle it out for the Event Connect - Best Sporting Event; while Deeside Activity Park, Aboyne, faces tough competition for Best Outdoor/Adventure; Callater Lodge, Braemar, is up for the ARRAN, Sense of Scotland - Most Hospitable B&B/Guest House award; Royal Lochnagar Distillery, Ballater, is a finalist in the ScotRail - Best Visitor Attraction category; and Drum Castle, Banchory, is a contender for the Scotland Can Do Award for Innovation In Tourism award.

TV presenter and Deacon Blue drummer, Dougie Vipond, and presenter and former Miss Scotland, Jennifer Reoch, will announce the winners others at a ceremony held in the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.

The hosts will be joined by comedian Des Clarke and Scottish band, Prides, who will provide the evening’s entertainment.

The 2016/2017 Scottish Thistle Awards, in association with Fishers, recognises hotels, restaurants, B&Bs, visitor attractions and individuals who go the extra mile to provide customers with exceptional service, and takes place during Scottish Tourism Week.

Awards which will be handed out on the night include, Best Cultural Event or Festival, Most Hospitable Hotel, Best Restaurant Experience, Best Visitor Attraction and Tourism & Hospitality Hero.

This year the Scottish Thistle Awards received a record-breaking number of entries, totalling 715, which amounted to a 16% increase on last year. Regional finals were held in November with winners going on to the national final.

Rebecca Brooks, chairwoman of the Scottish Thistle Awards Industry Panel, said: “The Scottish Thistle Awards National Final celebrates the fantastic achievements and innovations of our tourism and hospitality sector which continues to deliver a world-class visitor experience.

“We’re delighted that Dougie and Jennifer will be joining us as we reveal the stars of Scottish tourism and with entertainment from Prides and Des it looks set to be a memorable night.

“Tourism is more than a holiday experience. It creates jobs and sustains communities in every corner of Scotland all year round and is at the heart of the Scottish economy.

“Good luck to all of the finalists. Whatever the outcome, they should be proud of their achievements in reaching the National Final and we look forward to celebrating with them.”

Scott Inglis, commercial director at Fishers, said: “At Fishers we don’t just think of ourselves as a laundry company, we are an important part of Scotland’s tourism sector and we are proud that we are able to show our support for the Scottish Thistle Awards.

“The awards are a fantastic way to celebrate the hard work that goes into making tourism a success in Scotland. This year’s finalists are all outstanding and we wish them the best of luck at the National final.”