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ICYMI: Thistle do nicely! Highland tourism heroes cruise to success

By Calum MacLeod

AN Inverness bar which celebrates craft beer and spirits and traditional Scottish music, and a company offering cruises of Loch Ness were named best in the business at Scottish tourism’s biggest awards night.

MacGregors Bar in Inverness was crowned best pub/bar at the Scottish Thistle Awards national final at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, while there were two winners with Loch Ness connections.

Fort Augustus family firm Cruise Loch Ness was named best visitor attraction, and “Mr Loch Ness” himself – Willie Cameron, founding director of the Cobbs Group, and go-to expert on the loch and its legend – took the prestigious Johnstons of Elgin Silver Thistle Award.

Mr Cameron was praised for “playing an important part in the promotion of food and drink, hospitality and film development, both in the Highlands and in Scotland”.

Best pub winner MacGregor’s Bar was singled out by the judges for its family and accessibility offering and commended for its events programme and food and drink initiatives.

Owner Bruce MacGregor said: “Absolutely delighted for this – we wanted to create something that was more than a bar but a complete cultural experience.”

Cruise Loch Ness was commended by judges for continuously looking to invest in improvements and for its strong focus on staff training and development.

Managing director Ronald Mackenzie said it was “a huge honour for us and our team.”

Also among the recipients was US author Diana Gabaldon, whose Outlander books and the TV series it inspired, have brought thousands of visitors to Scotland. She received a special award recognising her international contribution to tourism.

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