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Business / Two Shetland businesses shortlisted for regional tourism and hospitality awards

The company has invested in making their boat wheelchair accessible by adding a flat, obstruction-free boarding platform to accommodate all levels and abilities. Photo: Malcolm Younger/Millgeat Media

LERWICK’s No 88 restaurant and boat tour provider Seabirds-and-Seals have both been shortlisted for this year’s Highlands and Islands Thistle Awards.

Applications for the awards, which will be held in Inverness in November, were submitted by local businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector.

Seabirds-and-Seals is in the running for two awards, best visitor attraction and inclusive tourism, whilst No 88 is shortlisted for best eating experience.

The Commercial Street restaurant uses plenty of local produce in their cooking, which is a must for the award – last month it even started serving fresh Shetland oysters.

Karen Arellano, one of the directors at No 88, told Shetland News: “We are delighted to be shortlisted again this year and very excited to be going to the award ceremony.

“We are really proud of all of our local suppliers and the produce they give us and want to thank them all.”

Noss boat tour provider Seabirds-and-Seals celebrated 30 years of operating last year and more recently was awarded five stars by VisitScotland at a quality assurance check.

It is up against Cruachan power station and the Highlander’s Museum in the highly varied visitor attraction category.

Marie Leask now owns the business alongside her husband Brian after they took it on from founder Jonathan Wills.

She said they are “absolutely over the moon” to be shortlisted.

“We’ve worked hard for it, so it’s good to see all our hard work paid off,” Leask said.

Additionally the inclusive tourism award is dedicated to businesses that make holidays accessible for everyone.

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The catamaran that is used for Seabirds-and-Seals’ tours is accessible for wheelchair users and those with mobility issues.

“We are the only boat tour operator in Shetland that is wheelchair accessible,” Leask continued.

“Brian specifically designed the platform at the back of the boat and he specifically looked for this type of boat that he could adapt to make it accessible.”

Head judge for the awards Lorna Maclennan said: “This year has seen another fantastic number of entries from businesses and individuals right across the Highlands, islands and Moray.

“The range and calibre of submissions has been impressive and made our work as judges all the harder in deciding our shortlist.”

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