Four women active in island tourism feature in the 2022 roll of honour for Scottish women in tourism, it’s been announced this week.
The list, published on Monday (16 May) features 100 women – of 250 nominated – who have been selected as influential and amazing in the world of tourism.
The idea for the top 100 was sparked in 2018, when The Caterer magazine’s top 100 most powerful people in hospitality included only 13 women.
And while that list has never been published since, the top 100 women in tourism is now embarking on its third round, with nominations climbing during each two-year award cycle.
Recognised in 2022 are job-share partners Kirsten Gow and Sarah Compton-Bishop of Jura, who project manage the Scottish Islands Passport Scheme. It covers 72 islands, encouraging people to visit each and collect stamps as they go, improving the flow of tourism and showcasing what’s best about every island.
Kirsten and Sarah said: “We are working hard to try and ensure that the project works for all of our islands – from the smallest to the largest.
“To do that we know we need to tailor the way we work with island communities as much as possible to take into account their individual aspirations, capacity for involvement, and infrastructure.
“Although we know a lot about islands, we strongly believe that the folk living on each island are always the experts on their own island home. Our small team works hard to engage with as many folk as possible across the 72 islands we cover.”
Also in the list is Marion McNeil, owner of the Heathbank Hotel in Northbay, Barra. Marion took over the hotel in 2016 and has just completed a major renovation, but already enjoyed tremendous support from visitors and from her home community for the hospitality she offers.
One customer and friend wrote: “You are successful, Marion, because you are a lovely hardworking person who gives 100% to your customers with great food and hospitality.
“Growing up in Barra, I know how much the community means to you and the welcome you give to tourists who frequent the islands.”
Taking her own place in the top 100 is Rhoda Meek of Tiree, managing director of the brand new holiday agency IsleHoliday.
IsleHoliday is part of a community interest company which offers an ethical way to find and book holidays in the islands, ensuring that 100% of the profit goes back to island businesses.
Rhoda has done that by creating the Isle Develop fund, which makes grants to small local businesses from surplus generated through accommodation bookings.
All the women will be invited to attend a celebratory event in Edinburgh on 7 June, where they can meet, network and find out more about the impact of women in tourism.
Susan Russell, chair of Women in Tourism, said: “This announcement recognises those that are leading the way in innovative ideas, are supporting and mentoring colleagues through unprecedented times, and are welcoming visitors from both near and far.
“Now, more than ever, it’s important that we recognise not just the economic benefits of tourism, but the opportunity for the sector to be recognised as a career of choice.
“The 2022 Top 100 highlights the wealth of talent we have here in Scotland, and we hope it inspires and motivates future tourism leaders. Without your passion, resilience and dedication, tourism in Scotland simply wouldn’t be what it is today.”
Pictures show Rhoda Meek of IsleHoliday, Kirsten and Sarah of the Scottish Islands Passport scheme and Heathbank Hotel in Northbay, Barra.