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by Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland
26 May 2022
Associate Feature: Tourism: playing our part in tackling climate change

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Associate Feature: Tourism: playing our part in tackling climate change

Scotland’s breathtaking scenery is the number one reason people visit our shores. Visitors from every corner of the globe have fallen in love with our world-famous views and natural assets. They are what make Scotland so special.

VisitScotland is committed to working with the industry and communities to tackle climate change and create a long-lasting sustainable tourism destination, benefitting visitors and residents alike. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has already made people pause and think about the future of our planet, and their impact on it. For VisitScotland and the wider tourism industry it was a chance to reset and build back responsibly, sustainably and safely.  

VisitScotland has already set out its stall. We were the first National Tourism Organisation to sign up to the Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency initiative and a member of the drafting committee of the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism, along with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation and other industry leaders. This includes a promise to cut emissions and reach net zero as soon as possible. We are already working towards meeting the Scottish Government’s ambitious target of reducing emissions by 75% by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2045.   

Sustainable and responsible tourism isn’t a niche trend anymore, it is a fundamental part of our country’s fantastic tourism offering as we encourage visitors to consider the impact their visit has on the environment.  

In Scotland, almost three quarters of residents agree that climate change is an immediate and urgent problem; and the importance of tackling climate change has increased for many following the pandemic. Globally, consumer focus on sustainability is also here to stay - so there is a real opportunity for businesses to cater for a market that recognises the need for action but maybe requires more support when it comes to make those sustainable travel choices.
VisitScotland can also help; we are making it easier for visitors to tread lightly when enjoying Scotland by sharing ideas and inspiration on our website, via social media and through our marketing that highlight the best of Scotland’s green offering. 

We’re also working with businesses across Scotland, offering advice, support and funding opportunities, which aligns to the National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET)’s entrepreneurship and innovation strand.

In support of post-pandemic recovery, the Destination Net Zero project will help Scotland’s tourism industry on the journey to net zero. The programme consists of research to discover where we are now, advice on taking climate action, and funding to support industry to transition a greener, more sustainable future, building their resilience and aligning with Scottish Government targets. 

The programme includes a recently launched fund where tourism businesses can apply for funding to assist with the installation of an electric vehicle charge point on their premises. While 72% of Scotland residents use their own petrol/diesel car when taking breaks and holidays in Scotland, according to our research, 43% are interested in changing to electric/hybrid “within the next few years”. By supporting sustainable travel choices, we believe everyone can help protect our landscapes while at the same time boosting the local economy, culture and diversity of the areas they visit.

Tourism can be such a force for good - boosting local employment, aiding our physical and mental health and now, supporting Scotland’s green ambitions. Despite the many challenges we face with the climate emergency, VisitScotland is part of the solution.  
We’re committed to working with tourism and events businesses and communities to ensure sustainability is at the heart of their offering. And as we market our country to visitors, we inspire them to enjoy our country in a way that preserves and protects all the things that make Scotland so special.

This article is sponsored by VisitScotland.

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Read the most recent article written by Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland - Associate Feature: A growing appetite for rural experiences.

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