Scots companies dominate tour awards

Scottish companies have dominated a prestigious tourism awards ceremony, with 31 businesses scooping gongs in Glasgow.

VisitScotland has praised the winners of the 2017 CIE Tours Awards of Excellence, which are based entirely on feedback from 14,000 customers who experienced 250 providers of accommodation, dining, tours and attractions throughout the UK.

Awards were given to those providers achieving an average customer satisfaction rating of 90 per cent or more.

A total of 56 CIE Awards were presented at the Hotel du Vin Devonshire on the eve of VisitScotland Expo 2017, the country’s flagship travel show. The Scottish winners included Norton House Hotel & Spa and The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which were presented with the awards for Best Overall Hotel and Best Special Event respectively. Apex Grassmarket Hotel, Dalmahoy Hotel & Country Club and Macdonald Holyrood Hotel also won Hotel Awards of Excellence while Palace of Holyrood and Edinburgh Castle won Visit Awards for Excellence.

CIE Tours International, which was named Scotland’s Heritage International Operator of the Year 2017, saw a 10 per cent rise in bookings in UK tours on the previous year, increasing the number of visitors the Irish operator brought to the UK to 14,000.

In 2016, the company took visitors to 175 attractions and 75 hotels across the UK, paying a total of £10 million to its UK suppliers. A total of 13,000 of CIE’s guests visited Scotland as part of their tour.

CIE Tours launched its UK customer satisfaction awards in 2013. Since then, the numbers of venue and attraction winners achieving a higher than 90 per cent satisfaction rating in the UK, has grown from 32 to 56. As a result, CIE introduced its “Gold” award that recognises the top-rated supplier in each of the 11 categories including Best Accommodation and Best Overall Tour Feature.

Elizabeth Crabill, Chief Executive Officer of CIE Tours International, said: “The vast majority of our visitors to the UK – around 13,000 guests in 2016 – visit Scotland during their tours and we are pleased to award these partners that have developed a notably excellent customer experience in Scotland with more than half of our Gold and Merit Awards this year being made to Scottish hotels and attractions.

“We anticipate that demand for our Scotland tours will grow significantly in 2017, demonstrating the significance and growing appeal of Scotland’s heritage and quality customer experience. However, our challenge can be finding the right accommodation at the right price in some locations, where hotel prices threaten competitiveness and potential growth.”

Manuela Calchini, Regional Director at VisitScotland, said: “I would like to congratulate all the hotels and attractions winning these prestigious awards. It is great to see the warm welcome and excellent service provided to our overseas guests being recognised by a company such as CIE Tours, which is making an important contribution to Scotland’s visitor economy.”

For more information about CIE Tours, go to

Best Overall Hotel

Norton House Hotel & Spa

Best Overall Hotel Accommodation

The Stratford Hotel

Best Overall Hotel Service and Hospitality

Atholl Palace Hotel - Perthshire

Best Overall Walking Tour

Windsor Tourist Guides Ltd

Best Overall Feature

Working Sheepdogs - Leault Farm, Highlands

Best Special Event

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Best Overall Castle Experience

Glamis Castle

Best Overall Loch Cruise

Jacobite Cruise

Best Overall Visitor Attraction

Tower Of London

Best Overall Dinner & Entertainment

Welsh Banquet at Cardiff Castle

Best Overall Heritage Site


Hotel Awards of Excellence

Apex Grassmarket Hotel; Dalmahoy Hotel & Country Club; Marriott Kensington Hotel; Macdonald Holyrood Hotel; Macdonald Windsor Hotel; Newton Hotel; Radisson Blu Hotel; The Westerwood Hotel

Visit Awards of Excellence

Stirling Castle; Windsor Castle; Palace of Holyroodhouse; St Davids Cathedral; Dunrobin Castle; Alnwick Castle; Alnwick Garden; Skara Brae; Dunvegan Castle; Eilean Donan Castle; The Lovespoon Workshop; Cardiff Castle; Tintern Abbey; Blair Castle - Perthshire; Italian Chapel - Orkney; Lanhydrock House; Urquhart Castle; National Slate Museum; Crathes Castle; Roman Baths; Edinburgh Castle; York Minster; Inveraray Castle; Minack Theatre; St Magnus Cathedral; Conwy Castle; Ring of Brodgar; Brodie Castle; Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre; Castle Howard; Harlech Castle; Arran Distilley; Inverewe Gardens; St Paul’s Cathedral; Glenlivet Distillery; Blair Athol Distillery; Caernarfon Castle