Voting for the 2024 Orkney Tourism Awards has officially gone live this week, with organisers Destination Orkney urging visitors to the islands, and local folk, to get involved.
The awards have been split into eight different public categories, covering everything from the best visitor attraction to the finest eating experience.
A further seven award categories, including best newcomer to tourism and climate action accolades, will be voted on by members of Destination Orkney.
Members of the public can submit their votes on Orkney.com or scan a QR-code displayed by participating tourism businesses.
Winners will be presented with a special awards trophy at a gala event to be held in 2025 and can highlight their achievement in promotional material, and on their websites. In addition, successful businesses will be nominated by Destination Orkney for the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards and the Thistle Awards.
The Orkney Tourism Awards were launched by Destination Orkney in 2022 in a bid to recognise excellence within the local tourism sector. The initiative proved to be a major success, bringing a welcome, post-Covid morale boost for islands businesses.
“The thrill of opening an email confirming our three nominations was an incredible experience,” recalls previous winner Keith Austen, of Skaill House Falconry (SHF). “We can still remember the look of disbelief and the excitement that we felt. When SHF was confirmed as winner of the Best Hands-On Experience award, it came near the end and so we were even more shocked and surprised.
“Being presented with the award was unbelievable. Like most attractions in Orkney at times it has been a struggle, but at this moment it all seemed worthwhile. It makes us so proud to say to customers booking that we recommend our award-winning Falconry Experience Session.”
The Merkister Hotel’s Lorna Munson agrees about the positive impact the awards have had.
“The team were absolutely delighted to win,” she says. “What an accolade with all the fabulous hotels Orkney has to offer. It’s voted for by the public, so it really means something! I mention all the time about winning the Serviced Accommodation award, which is displayed at the entrance of the hotel.”
Nic Thake, joint chair of Destination Orkney, adds: “The response to the inaugural Orkney Tourism Awards was tremendous, with visitors and local people alike getting involved, and so we’re keen to see the 2024 event build on that success and generate even more engagement.
“Nominations mean such a great deal to our tourism providers who work incredibly hard to ensure visitors to Orkney enjoy their time in the islands, with the winners rightly feeling a real sense of pride in their achievement. In turn, the awards serve as an additional seal of quality in a local sector that’s already providing the finest of service to our guests, so it’s all good for Orkney’s reputation as a destination.”