Deeside businesses are leading the way with finalist nominations in the 2015 Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards (ACSTA).
Nine local businesses were announced as finalists on October 15. They will now face an anxious wait until January 30 next year to learn if they will be crowned winners.
Glen Tanar Estate, Buchanan Foods Ltd, Visit Royal Deeside, Run Balmoral, Aboyne guest houses Struan Hall and Glendavan, and the Banchory Lodge and Tor-na-Coille hotels have all been selected as finalists.
This is an impressive feat for Deeside as this year saw a 25% rise in the number of entries received by the awards scheme, increasing the competition.
Cllr. Geva Blackett said: “These awards are recognition of how much Royal Deeside has to offer visitors and to have nine finalists is an unbelievable achievement - I applaud their efforts, wish them the very best of luck and personally think they are all winners anyway!”
The ACSTA awards, which took place for the first time earlier this year, are organised by the Aberdeen City and Shire Hotels’ Association (ACSHA).
Two additional categories were also introduced and the sections are now aligned with the national VisitScotland-backed scheme, The Scottish Thistle Awards.
‘‘It is intended that ACSTA will become adopted as the regional final for the Scottish Thistle Awards by 2016.
ACSTA chairman Iain Watson said the level of interest took organisers by surprise.
He added: “From the moment we opened for entries in July, there was a steady stream of nominations coming in.
‘‘Overall we were 25% up on the number of nominations received last year and while we have two additional categories, the increase was seen across the board.
“We have received entries from many of the operators who took part in our inaugural awards in 2014, but also many new faces who are taking part for the first time.
“This is not about rewarding the organisation that has the most budget or manpower at its disposal: the awards are about recognising operators and individuals who make a real difference to the visitor experience and who are dedicated to ensuring that customers, whether they are here for business or leisure, leave with a first rate impression of what we have to offer.”
The Deeside businesses are shortlisted in categories including Our Warmest Welcome, Best Event or Festival and Creative Ambition.
Final judging will take place before the end of the year and winners will be announced at a ceremony at Ardoe House Hotel and Spa in Aberdeen.
The host for the evening will be broadcaster Tam Cowan.
Further information about the awards is available at www.acsta.co.uk.