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Rising stars of tourism

Press release   •   Nov 05, 2018 15:41 GMT

TV presenter Jennifer Reoch (centre) met with Regional Rising Star nominees Amy Paton and Craig MacDonald at the Kelpies

THE COUNTDOWN to this year’s Regional Finals of the Scottish tourism Oscars is on, as a group of young rising stars of the industry celebrate their nomination with host Jennifer Reoch.

Amy Paton (20) from Falkirk Community Trust and Craig MacDonald (20) owner of Transcend Escape Rooms and Wee Heroes in Falkirk have both been shortlisted for a Scottish Thistle Award in the Regional Rising Star category, sponsored by Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT) Scotland, in recognition of their passion for the tourism industry.

They are shortlisted alongside Becca Buckner (26), from the Scotch Whisky Experience, and Joe Posnett (22) from the Apex Hotel in Edinburgh.

TV presenter and former Miss Scotland, Jennifer Reoch, will announce the winner of the Central, Fife & Tayside category, as well as the Lothian & Borders category at the glittering awards ceremony at the Prestonfield House Hotel, Edinburgh, on 15 November. The winners, who will be announced later this month, will also receive a HIT Scotland scholarship.

The Scottish Thistle Awards are Scotland’s premier awards for the tourism industry. They celebrate success, innovation, excellence and best practice in Scotland’s tourism and hospitality industry.

They also offer the opportunity to recognise those people who have made valuable contributions to the sector across the country.

2018 saw more than 640 entries submitted, including well over a thousand nominations from members of the public keen to recognise hotels, restaurants, B&Bs, visitor attractions and individuals who go the extra mile to provide customers with exceptional service.

Host Jennifer Reoch said: “I am so delighted to be once again part of the Scottish Thistle Awards, celebrating the very best of our incredible tourism industry. The quality of every single finalist is always exceptional so I am really excited to meet them all, especially the stars of the future - the enthusiasm and skill of each rising star candidate is exceptionally inspiring.”

Rebecca Brooks, Chair of the Scottish Thistle Awards industry panel, said: In the Year of Young People 2018, it is fitting to pay special mention to our younger workforce, recognised in the Regional Rising Star categories. Our young people play a valuable role in the country’s thriving tourism and hospitality sector and it is fantastic to see our young tourism ambassadors recognised in this way.The future of the tourism industry lies with our young people, and the Regional Rising Star award celebrates an individual who shows real promise as a rising star in Scottish tourism and a passion for their future and the future of the industry.

“Tourism is more than a holiday experience – it is the heartbeat of the Scottish economy and touches every community, generating income, jobs and social change.

“On behalf of the panel, I would like to congratulate all shortlisted entrants and wish each and every one of them the very best of luck at the regional finals.”

Becca Buckner from the Scotch Whisky Experience said: “I am really grateful for the opportunities that have developed me as a person over the past four years with so much training both in my retail role and through to the wider cultural training as part of my management apprenticeship. I know how overwhelming a new job can be and I love being able to share my experience and training with new members of the team.

Craig MacDonald owner of Transcend Escape Rooms and Wee Heroes said: “I am very grateful to be a Finalist for such a prestigious award having only started my first business 15 months ago. It means a lot to have gotten this far in the Regional Rising Star Award with Visit Scotland. I’m really excited for the night and wish the rest of my fellow finalists good luck on the day! “

Joe Posnett from the Apex Hotel in Edinburgh said: Scottish hotels and tourism institutions have a great sense of unity that has established Scotland as one of the best locations to visit in the world. And not only that; thisunification gives us a great platform and network to build upon to keep growing the Scotland brand. It is a brilliant industry to be a part of with so many opportunities to develop as a person and progress in your career. For me, getting into hospitality after school was the best thing I could have done, and now to have the privilege to be shortlisted for a Scottish Thistle Award is a huge reward.”

Amy Paton, Visitor Services Advisor, said: “I am absolutely delighted to have been shortlisted in the regional rising star category for a Scottish Thistle Award. It is an honour to have been nominated so early into my career in the travel and tourism industry and I am really looking forward to the awards.”

The Scottish Thistle Awards is led by a panel of industry experts from several organisations including VisitScotland, Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards, Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards, the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA), the Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland, Scotland Food and Drink, Scottish Tourism Alliance, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, sportscotland and Wild Scotland.

Regional finals will take place in different locations around Scotland covering areas such as Central Fife and Tayside, Lothian & Borders, West, the Highlands and Islands, organised by the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards, and Aberdeen City and Shire, which is organised by Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards.

  • The Highlands and Islands Regional Final, organised by the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards, will take place at Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness, on Friday 2 November.
  • The Central, Fife & Tayside Regional Final will take place at Prestonfield House Hotel in Edinburgh on Thursday 15 November.
  • The Lothian & Borders Regional Final will take place at Prestonfield House Hotel in Edinburgh on Thursday 15 November.
  • The Aberdeen City and Shire Regional Final, organised by Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards, will take place at Ardoe House Hotel and Spa, Aberdeen, on Friday 23 November.
  • The West Regional Final will take place at Oran Mor, Glasgow, on Thursday 29 November.

The full 14 regional categories are:

  • ScotRail - Best Visitor Attraction
  • Fishers - Most Hospitable Hotel
  • Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers – Best Self-Catering Accommodation Experience
  • Criton - Most Hospitable B&B/Guest House
  • Caledonian MacBrayne - Best Eating Experience
  • J Thomson Colour Printers - Best Bar / Pub
  • Johnstons of Elgin - Regional Ambassador
  • Best Outdoor/Adventure Experience
  • Edinburgh Airport - Working Together For Tourism
  • Tourism & Hospitality Hero
  • HIT Scotland - Regional Rising Star
  • Kinrara Distillery - Best Cultural Event or Festival
  • Historic Environment Scotland - Best Heritage Tourism Experience
  • Geotourist - Innovation in Tourism Award

For information and tickets, please visit:

Notes to Editors

  • Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
  • The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
  • This will be supported by five overarching strategies: Marketing, Events, Quality and Sustainability, Inclusive Tourism, International Engagement.
  • The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
  • Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP
  • For VisitScotland’s press releases go to, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to
  • Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
  • For holiday information on Scotland go to
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2018 Year of Young People

  • The Year of Young People (YoYP 2018) will inspire Scotland through its young people aged 8 to 26, celebrating their achievements, valuing their contributions to communities and creating new opportunities for them to shine locally, nationally and globally
  • Central to YoYP 2018 will be a celebratory events programme that puts young people at the heart of its development and delivery, creating new and valuable experiences for young Scots and the wider public, with links to the inaugural 2018 European Championships.
  • Over 200 young people throughout Scotland are currently being recruited to become YoYP 2018 Ambassadors. Ambassadors will ensure that people and organisations in their communities know about what’s happening and will lead on projects and activities to create events and opportunities to celebrate young people.
  • The Year of Young People will have six themes which were developed in co-production with young people themselves:
  • Participation – looking at how young people can influence public services and decisions which affect their lives
  • Education – creating a stronger role for young people in shaping their learning
  • Health and Wellbeing – supporting young people to lead healthier, active lives and have opportunities to learn about and improve their mental health and resilience
  • Equality and Discrimination – broadcasting the value of young Scots, challenging negative perceptions of young people, and supporting young people to take leading roles in challenging discrimination in all its forms.
  • Enterprise and regeneration – celebrating young people’s role in innovation, entrepreneurship and the Scottish economy as well as making Scotland a greener and more pleasant place to live
  • Culture – celebrating young people’s talent and contribution to Scottish culture and arts.
  • Further information on what’s happening and how people can get involved can be found on the new website or @YOYP2018 on Twitter.