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Tourism chief highlights key role of guest houses

14 May 2010

HIGH-quality guest houses and bed-and-breakfasts are an essential part of the country’s tourism infrastructure, Scotland’s top tourism executive insisted during a trip to Moray.

Philip Riddle said visitors to Scotland are very discerning, and providing them with good standards of accommodation and service will ensure they keep coming back.

Mr Riddle, chief executive of VisitScotland, was speaking during a visit to The Pines guest house in Elgin, which is owned by husband-and-wife Charles and Helen Bruce. He presented them with a four-star award to mark the high-quality establishment they run.

Mr Riddle had been in Moray to attend Scotland’s Food and Drink Excellence Awards at Benromach Distillery. He also met with members of the recently-formed Moray Tourism Group, and called in at Johnstons of Elgin Woollen Mill during his visit.

The Pines, which was taken over last summer by Mr and Mrs Bruce, has maintained four-star status for the last six years.

“Many people see places like this as the character of Scotland,” Mr Riddle said. “The standard required to achieve four stars is rightly high, and meeting the standards is no easy matter. Owners of establishments such as The Pines Guest House appreciate the importance of providing a high level of quality and service to visitors, and I’d like to congratulate Charles and Helen on their achievement.

“Guest houses play a huge part in bringing millions of visitors and billions of pounds to our economy, so it is right that they are recognised in this way.

“The rewards of the star grading will be reaped not only by The Pines Guest House but also by their customers, and by extension Scottish tourism as a whole, as we work together to encourage visitors to Scotland to stay longer and spend more.”

Mr Bruce, who runs the five-bedroom guest house with his niece and stepson, said: “We are delighted to have maintained the four-star grade here at The Pines. It is hugely satisfying to know that our efforts are being recognised so positively, and in a way that will hopefully help to bring more visitors to our door.”

Mr Bruce, who owned the Garmouth Inn for 18 years, and before that a bed-and-breakfast in Yorkshire which was rated among the best in the world, says the key is creating a relaxed atmosphere where people feel at home.

“I don’t believe in being in people’s faces too much. I just tell them where everything is and if they need anything to come and see me,” he said.

VisitScotland’s quality adviser, Helen Parker, who assessed The Pines, said: “The Pines really is a charming place to stay, from the period features to the manicured lawns. The quality of my stay and the service experienced was nothing short of excellent and I didn’t hesitate to award them four stars.”

Scott Armstrong, VisitScotland’s regional director, said the agency was committed to working with Moray Tourism Group and Moray Council in promoting the area across Scotland and farther afield. “Moray Council is very supportive of tourism and keen to work with VisitScotland,” he said.

  • Charles Bruce and his niece Charmian (left) are pictured accepting the four-star award from Philip Riddle, chief executive of VisitScotland, and regional director Scott Armstrong (right).
 (The Northern Scot)
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