VisitScotland Chairman John Thurso enjoyed a tour of the Scottish Borders this week, stopping off at some of the businesses shortlisted for a top tourism award.
Lord Thurso’s visit to the region comes ahead of this year’s Lothian & Borders Regional Final of the Scottish Thistle Awards taking place on Thursday 23November.
First stop on the tour was Born in the Borders, shortlisted in the Best Outdoor/ Adventure Experience, followed by Ruberslaw Wild Wood Camping, which is shortlisted in the Best Accommodation provider category, before going onto Seasons at Gattonside, up for an award in the Best Informal Eating Experience category.
This year marks the ‘silver’ anniversary for the prestigious competition, which celebrates success, innovation, excellence and best practice in the country’s tourism and hospitality industry. Over the past 25 years, the Scottish Thistle Award has crowned over 350 national winners.
A total of 15 businesses, individuals and events in the region have made it through to the regional finals in total, with the winners due to be announced at the Lothian & Borders Regional Final at Prestonfield House Hotel, Edinburgh, on Thursday. Lord Thurso took the opportunity to meet with business leaders and industry stakeholders as part of his two-day tour to gain a better understanding of both positive developments as well as the challenges facing the tourism industry in the region.
Tourism is at the centre of economic success in the region, supporting 4,000 jobs, sustaining communities, generating £76 million in revenue and providing a shop window for business activity.
Lord Thurso, VisitScotland Chairman said:
“Scotland’s reputation as a quality destination relies on continued investment and innovation to ensure that current provision meets future demand.
“This visit to the Scottish Borders offers a valuable opportunity to speak directly to our stakeholders. By working closely with our local communities and businesses, we can showcase the rich assets, hidden gems and local stories of every region in Scotland to develop and deliver innovative initiatives that grow the visitor economy.”
Paula Ward, VisitScotland Regional Director said:
“I was delighted to offer Lord Thurso the opportunity to visit some of the exciting and unique experiences on offer in the Scottish Borders. There are so many great examples of businesses committed to further enhancing our region’s tourism offering and attracting more visitors to the Scottish Borders.
“The fact that, this year, we have a remarkable 15 finalists in the Regional Thistle Awards is testament to the impressive range and depth of outstanding tourism businesses we have in the region.”
Ruberslaw Wild Woods Camping is set within 500 acres of unspoilt upland in the heart of the Teviot Valleys Special Landscape Area near Denholm. The site offers seasonal wild-camping between March and November, either in the comfort of fully equipped self-catering but remote Safari Tents or in pitch-your-own woodland sites. Or people can be close to the high spec facilities in the Hub, pitching their tents in our beautiful restored Edwardian Walled Garden.
Alan Bailey from Ruberslaw Wild Woods Camping said:
“It was a pleasure to welcome Lord Thurso to Ruberslaw Wild Camping. Our visitors have the unique opportunity to try out wild camping but with service and support, while enjoying the beautiful Scottish Borders hills and woods. They can pitch their own tents or glamp in great comfort in remote Safari Tents. Or there is our restored Edwardian Garden where they can camp in another unique setting and with the superbly equipped Hub. We were delighted to have this opportunity to share our experiences and plans for the future with the VisitScotland team.”
Born in the Borders is a visitor centre set on the banks of the River Teviot between Jedburgh and Denholm. As well as shopping, a café and restaurant and brewery, recent additions to the centre include grass sledging and ice rink which has recently opened for the season.
John Henderson, owner of Born in the Borders said:
“We continually strive to come up with new ideas and innovative ways of attracting visitors to Born in the Borders. In the last two years, with the introduction of grass sledging and now the ice rink, we have been able to attract children and families to our visitor centre throughout the year. We were delighted to take part in Lord Thurso’s visit to the Scottish Borders and have the opportunity to showcase the latest addition to our business and celebrate all that is on offer in the region.”
Seasons is an informal restaurant, serving fresh, local, seasonal produce from the Scottish Borders run by husband and wife team Roger and Bea McKie. Roger added:
“The breadth and quality of our artisan suppliers enables us to have a changing menu that truly reflects the seasons and the countryside of the borders. Building relationships and working with our local borders suppliers is fundamental to our approach to deliver great food and hospitality in a relaxed and welcoming environment.”
The round-table meeting and stakeholders’ dinner at the Burts Hotel in Melrose was attended by:
John Fordyce, Borders Distillery
Will Haegeland, County Hotel Selkirk and Grapevine, Galashiels
Fergus Watson, Midlothian Borders Tourism Action Group
Annika Meiklejohn, Tempest Brewery
John Henderson, Born in the Borders
Alan Bailey, Ruberslaw Wild Woods Camping
Roger McKie, Seasons Restaurant.
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 seven overarching strategies:
- Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland to visit different parts of the country
- Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
- Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
- Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
- Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
- Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
- Working in Partnership: we will listen to and work with the industry, partners and communities to shape our offering and support
- To ensure everyone can safely enjoy Scotland’s amazing countryside and landscapes, VisitScotland encourages all visitors to fully respect their surroundings by behaving in a responsible and appropriate way.
- VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
- 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
- The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Structural Funds 2014-20 Programme. For further information visit www.gov.scot or follow @scotgovESIF
- For VisitScotland’s press releases go to http://www.visitscotland.org/media_centre.aspx, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to http://www.visitscotland.org/
- 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) 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology
- 2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories through a wide-ranging variety of new and existing activity to drive the nation’s tourism and events sector, boosting tourism across Scotland.
- The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology begins on 1 January 2017 and will end on 31 December 2017. It will build on the momentum generated by previous themed years in Scotland including the 2015 Year of Food and Drink, Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
- The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Galleries Scotland and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland.
- The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
- The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
- For more information visit visitscotland.com/HHA2017 or join the conversation at #HHA2017