Clock is ticking on closing date for entrants to Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards

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Time is running out for tourism businesses in the north east that want to take centre stage and shine at the hospitality industry’s annual Oscars.

The deadline for entries in the Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards (ACSTA) is on June 30 – giving businesses and individuals just a matter of days to get their applications in.

The winners of in the 16 different titles up for grabs in ACSTA will go on to represent the area at the national Scottish Thistle Awards next year, and could well go on to emulate the success of those who flew the flag for the north east in this year’s event.

Three ACSTA winners went on to scoop the national title in March – the best ever performance by the region – in the holiday accommodation, informal eating and hospitality hero categories, fending off competition from across Scotland.

ACSTA organising chairman Alison Christie says the success shows that local operators are among the best of the best when it comes to rolling out the welcome mat to visitors from home and abroad.

She adds: “Winning industry awards such as these show a true commitment to delivering the highest levels of customer service. Competition for these awards – both within ACSTA and the wider Scottish Thistle Awards – is extremely high and anyone who is even shortlisted should feel an immense sense of pride at that achievement.

“Businesses that enter do so for many reasons, whether it’s to help raise their profile or to demonstrate to staff that they are valued for the contribution they make. Whatever the reason, we hope that local operators and individuals will be inspired and get their entry in before the deadline.

“The awards are free to enter and the application form is simple to complete. There are no right answers or wrong answers – all we are looking for is information that shows how you and your team are making the experience of visitors to Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire unforgettable for all the right reasons.

“We’ve already received a substantial amount of entries – no doubt helped by the profile our Scottish Thistle Award winners received earlier this year – but there are so many businesses and individuals out there who could really shine in these awards.

“The range of categories is vast and the individual categories are for anyone involved in interacting with visitors at any level. For example, perhaps you know a local taxi driver who goes above and beyond to help visitors find their way around the local area or a shopkeeper who goes the extra mile to make visitors feel welcome.”

Rebecca Brooks, chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards Industry Panel, said: “The Scottish Thistle Awards is a chance to celebrate those who work tirelessly to ensure that all visitors, whether from Scotland or further afield, enjoy a truly memorable experience.

“Tourism is more than a holiday experience, it creates jobs and sustains communities. I’m delighted that these awards continue to recognise the shining lights within our industry.

“This year marks a very special anniversary for the Scottish Thistles Awards, it is our 25th anniversary. In that time, we have recognised the dedication, talent and success of over 350 winners and this year is no exception.

“We would urge all our fantastic tourism businesses in Aberdeen City and Shire to go online, find out what category or categories they think best represents them and enter.”

Entries can be made online at www.acsta.co.uk and after applications close on June 30, a judging panel will meet to whittle entries down into a shortlist for each category. The eventual winners will be announced at an awards ceremony and gala dinner at Ardoe House Hotel in Aberdeen on November 24: these will be the entrants to go on and represent the city and shire at the Scottish Thistle Awards next spring.

The full list of awards categories is:

1. Best Accommodation Provider

2. Most Hospitable B&B/Guest House

3. Most Hospitable Hotel

4. Best Cultural Event or Festival

5. Best Informal Eating Experience

6. Best Outdoor/Adventure Experience

7. Best Restaurant Experience

8. Best Sporting Event

9. Best Visitor Attraction

10. Best Bar/Pub

11. Innovation in Tourism

12. Regional Ambassador (age 31+)

13. Regional Rising Star (age -30)

14. Tourism and Hospitality Hero

15. Working Together for Tourism

16. Best Heritage Tourism Experience