TOURISM and events businesses in the Wee County are being urged to enter an awards scheme set to showcase the best in the region.

The 30th Scottish Thistle Awards is open for entries with businesses across the Forth Valley able to submit applications in a range of categories.

The awards will shine a spotlight on individual businesses, people and partnership working as an annual celebration of excellence, collaboration and innovation within one of the country’s most important sectors.

Delivered by VisitScotland in partnership with regional awards programmes, the Scottish Thistle Awards combines five regional awards and a national final.

Last year, more than 600 businesses entered from across the country, culminating in the crowning of 17 national winners at a ceremony in Glasgow in December.

Categories include Best Hotel Experience, Best Eating Experience, Best Pub/Bar and Best Visitor Attraction.

In the region last year, there was success for Cromlix in Dunblane, which was named Best Hotel Experience.

The five-star country house hotel set in 34acres of private grounds and woodland has been owned by Scottish tennis legend Andy Murray and his wife Kim Sears since 2013.

Newly refurbished, the hotel has 15 bedrooms and suites, as well as a one-bedroom gate lodge, a new restaurant, The Glasshouse, and recreational activities for guests.

Judges praised the hotel for putting the visitor experience at the heart of everything it does and “going above and beyond” to provide a memorable stay for all guests.

Lynsey Eckford, VisitScotland regional director, said: “The Scottish Thistle Awards represent an exciting opportunity for individuals and businesses in Forth Valley to gain recognition for all the work they do to make the region and Scotland such a fantastic place to visit and stay.

“By winning a Scottish Thistle Award, tourism businesses join a prestigious roll of honour, earning recognition as one of the best in the country, helping to ensure that tourism, and the individuals who work in the industry, are recognised for the positive impact they bring to the country and our communities.

“Cromlix recent win shows the calibre of our local tourism offering. I hope this year we see even more entries and can celebrate further success across the region.”

Since the start of March, people across Forth Valley have been invited to nominate businesses, individuals and events they think are deserving of recognition in their field.

While businesses and events must formally enter to be eligible for the Scottish Thistle Awards, the nomination process allows members of the public to show appreciation to those they think deserve some extra recognition.

The deadline for public nominations is March 31 while formal entries will close on April 28.

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