Interest in this year’s competition reached unprecedented levels with over 230 entries and nominations received by organisers.
The Ferry Inn, Stromness, has been shortlisted in the Best Bar/Pub category of the awards, with Stromness-based dive company, Scapa Scuba, in the running for the Best Outdoor/Adventure Experience award. The Orkney Brewery and Visitor Centre is shortlisted as a finalist in the Best Visitor Attraction category.
Karen Crichton, proprietor of the Ferry Inn, said: “We’re really thrilled to be shortlisted for a HITA as we’ve worked hard to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere within our bar, one that visitors, our hotel guests and the local community alike all enjoy. We strive for quality throughout all aspects of our business, from our service and our bar menus, to our range of drinks on offer, so it’s heartening to see the commitment from our team recognised.”
Sara Tuner, owner, Scapa Scuba said: “We are absolutely delighted to be a finalist in the HITAs for the best outdoor/adventure experience. We’re passionate about diving – especially UK diving, and opening up our amazing Scapa Flow to everyone. Hopefully it will help to promote the fabulous activities that we have here in Orkney!”
Norman Sinclair, managing director of Sinclair Breweries, said: “We’re really delighted to be shortlisted for a HITA. As a five-star visitor attraction, we take our role as Orkney ambassadors very seriously indeed and always strive to make the best of impressions on our guests. Our visitors particularly enjoy the opportunity to see how our beers are made and to learn more about the stories behind our brand. That personal touch is vitally important in the competitive tourism marketplace and it’s something we do well in Orkney.”
Cameron Taylor, executive director of Orkney Tourism Group, said: “Having three Orkney businesses shortlisted in these prestigious awards is a great achievement and reflects the effort they’ve all put in to delivering the very best of visitor experiences. The awards are also a good measure of how our tourism businesses compare to others in the Highlands and Islands region and an opportunity for everyone to learn from each other in terms of best practice. We wish all the finalists well and hope all three Orkney businesses come home with an award.”
The Orkney businesses were encouraged to enter the awards by Lee Inkster, industry relationship manager for VisitScotland. She said: “Tourism is massively important for Orkney and we’re fortunate to have an incredible range of visitor attractions and fantastic tourism businesses that provide a great Orkney experience to visitors. The very best tourism businesses are the ones that never rest on their laurels and go the extra mile in terms of what they offer to visitors. The three Orkney finalists are great examples of that ethos and we wish them the very best of luck on the night.”
HITA is regarded as one of the premier industry hospitality awards programmes in Scotland, where the tourism sector is worth more than £4.5 billion to the economy.
The awards scheme, which is held in association with SSE, is free and is open to people operating in the Highland, Moray, Orkney, Shetland, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Argyll & Bute (excluding G postcode areas) local authority areas.
Winners will receive the famous piper trophies at a ceremony in the Drumossie Hotel, Inverness, on Friday, 3 November and (with the exception of the Highland Rising Star and Highland Ambassador) go on to compete at the Scottish Thistle Awards next year.