Thistle Awards 2023

Best Business Event - from left to right presenter Gary Innes with Neil Brownlee, VisitScotland, Dawn Lauder, Scottish Event Campus (SEC)  and Willie Towers from the James Hutton Institute with Danielle Kelly, STV  and presenter Jennifer Reoch

Article published 04/12/2023

The World Congress of Soil Science has been named Best Business Event at Scotland's premier tourism and events awards.

The conference, which was held at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in July and August 2022, received the award at the Scottish Thistle Awards national final at the Glasgow Hilton on Friday 1 December.

The Scottish Thistle Awards are delivered by VisitScotland with support from headline sponsor Johnstons of Elgin. The awards, which also include a media partnership with News Scotland, celebrate the very best of tourism in Scotland and the excellence, collaboration and innovation that is helping to support the responsible growth of the industry.

The Best Business Event category, sponsored by STV, celebrates business events as catalysts for economic and social transformation and recognises the value of business events as an industry, which is worth around £2billion to the Scottish economy.

Taking place every four years, the World Congress of Soil Science returned to the UK in 2022 for the first time since 1935. Organised by the British Society of Soil Science, the congress brought together soil enthusiasts from around the world and set the scene for vital knowledge sharing between industry-leading academics and practitioners. Described by judges as a "benchmark for all business events," judges praised it for its clear demonstration of content, public outreach and environmental sustainability efforts.

On receiving the award, Dawn Lauder, Head of Association Sales at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) said: "This was a highly sophisticated event that left legacies across the Scottish population, the educational and scientific community, both domestically and internationally, and brought together leaders to discuss the crucial role soil plays in the future of the planet. It also inspired people, be they local schools, international artists, or the population of Glasgow. The team at the British Soil Science Society along with the SEC and Glasgow Convention Bureau led the bid, and worked in collaboration to implement the event, but also created a blueprint for us, and future congresses on how to produce, measure and learn to create sustainable events."

Head of Business Events at VisitScotland Neil Brownlee said: "Congratulations to the World Congress of Soil Science at the SEC on receiving the award for Best Business Event at the Scottish Thistle Awards.

"It was a fantastic achievement for Scotland to host this renowned international event on its return to the UK for the first time since 1935. The event organisers and the SEC should be commended for delivering a hugely impactful event that provided a platform for engagement, innovation and sharing of best practice.

"Business events can be a powerful tool to highlight global issues in local communities and show where real, positive change, can be achieved."

Around 400 guests attended the awards ceremony that marks the culmination of the Scottish Thistle Awards programme for 2023. The evening was hosted by TV presenter Jennifer Reoch and broadcaster Gary Innes with entertainment by Cammy Barnes.

The Scottish Thistle Awards are delivered in partnership with Highlands & Islands Thistle Awards (HITA), the Aberdeen City and Shire Thistle Awards (ACSTA) and the South of Scotland Thistle Awards, supported by a panel of industry representatives.

The awards champion innovation collaboration and sustainable practices, in line with the ambitions of the national tourism strategy, Outlook 2030.

This year, the awards also include a media partnership with News Scotland.

Responsible tourism is at the heart of the Scottish Thistle Awards, supporting the aim for Scotland to be recognised globally as a leader in this field. 

Every entry was required to provide clear evidence on how their business addresses responsible tourism.

VisitScotland is committed to working with partners to ensure Scottish Thistle Awards events are delivered in a responsible way. This includes the introduction of a digital programme for regional awards and the national final, the use of locally sourced and sustainably-farmed produce at events and the use of Green Tourism accredited venues.

For more information on the Scottish Thistle Awards, visit