It’s bet­ter to travel eth­i­cally


Sunday Herald Life - - TRAVEL FEATURE -

ETH­I­CAL travel, re­spon­si­ble tourism and eco-savvy hol­i­days are be­com­ing ever more pop­u­lar. So how about tak­ing a trip that sup­ports fair pay? With more and more Scot­tish em­ploy­ers sign­ing up in sup­port of Scot­land’s Liv­ing Wage, which saw a new rate of £8.75 an­nounced last week, we’ve teamed up with the Poverty Al­liance to high­light some of the com­pa­nies in the Scot­tish tourism and hospi­tal­ity in­dus­try that have com­mit­ted to pay­ing all their staff at a rate be­yond the Gov­ern­ment’s statu­tory min­i­mum wage. That makes it eas­ier to wind your way around our gor­geous coun­try and, with ev­ery visit, bol­ster the fair pay move­ment. GLAS­GOW FAIR For cul­ture vul­tures, food­ies, shop­ping fiends and ar­chi­tec­ture buffs, Glas­gow is hard to beat – and Kelv­in­grove Park is a must-see. While you’re there, pay a visit to An Clachan café, housed in a for­mer play­ground shel­ter. Own­ers Bar­bara McGin­ley and Gary Pilk­ing­ton spot­ted the boarded up build­ing while push­ing their pram through the park. Four years later, this child-friendly café opened its doors. The vibe is dis­tinctly eth­i­cal, from free range, lo­cally sourced prod­ucts to fair pay. Ac­cord­ing to their web­site, “Most of our food and in­gre­di­ents are Fair­trade and or­ganic.” Try the chilli chicken (“roast free range chicken, cashews and mint”) and the kids’ Baby­c­cino, a child’s ver­sion of Cap­puc­cino. www.kelv­in­grovepark­ GET INTO THE SPIRIT Ap­pro­pri­ately sit­u­ated on the site of an il­licit still, Spring­bank whisky dis­tillery in Camp­bel­town was es­tab­lished in 1828 and has now passed through five gen­er­a­tions of the Mitchell fam­ily. Some things haven’t changed, such as the tra­di­tional meth­ods the Mitchell fore­fa­thers used to pro­duce the dis­tillery’s three malts – Lon­grow, Hazel­burn and Spring­bank. Oth­ers have; this is the first Ar­gyll and Bute­based com­pany to win Liv­ing Wage ac­cred­i­ta­tion, which (we think) makes their Scotch taste all the bet­ter. It’s all about recog­nis­ing the peo­ple who make Spring­bank Dis­tillers’ whisky world renowned, says J&A Mitchell’s di­rec­tor Neil Clap­per­ton. “We be­lieve that our staff are the key rea­son that our whiskies are so well re­garded around the world. We feel that any com­pany can only be as strong as its em­ploy­ees and we are com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing the best con­di­tions for them and their fam­i­lies.” Spring­bank of­fers tours which pro­vide in­sight into the his­tory of Scot­land’s na­tional drink and the dis­till­ing process, as well as the chance to taste a dram. www.spring­ A FAIR-PAY STAY IN THE HIGH­LANDS When you visit Eilean Do­nan Cas­tle in Kyle of Lochalsh, you get more than a slice of his­tory. Sit­u­ated on an is­land at the point where three great sea lochs meet, this is a place of ma­jes­tic scenery and iconic im­ages. No won­der that it’s one of the most pop­u­lar at­trac­tions in the High­lands. As well as a jour­ney through 15 cen­turies of Scots his­tory, Eilean Do­nan is a first-rate place to stay, fea­tur­ing both a cot­tage and ser­viced apart­ments. Stand in the foot­steps of the likes of David Niven, Er­rol Flynn and Pierce Bros­nan, all of whom have filmed here. And make sure you pay a visit to nearby Plock­ton, the myth­i­cal home of TV po­lice­man Hamish Mac­beth. www.eile­an­do­nan­cas­ BUCK­ING THE TREND IN SHETLAND It may be sit­u­ated in one of Britain’s most rugged lo­ca­tions but there’s noth­ing un­re­fined about Shetland’s Scal­loway Ho­tel. On the water­front of Ler­wick, it pulls in awards and celebrity guests and has the only two AA rosette restau­rant in the North­ern Isles. The dé­cor is dis­tinctly Scot­tish, with sheep­skin rugs, Shetland wool car­pets and tweed fur­nish­ings, lo­cal art on the walls, mod­ern, newly

re­vamped bath­rooms and, in ev­ery room, hand­crafted fur­ni­ture from nearby firm Pa­parwark. An­other first is its Liv­ing Wage ac­cred­i­ta­tion, mak­ing the ho­tel the first in Scot­land to at­tain this. “The ho­tel sec­tor isn’t renowned for be­ing a good payer, so any­thing which chal­lenges that per­cep­tion has to be a good thing,” says owner Car­o­line McKen­zie. www.scal­loway­ho­ WILD CAMP­ING WITH­OUT THE HARD­SHIP The peo­ple be­hind Com­rie Croft, a Perthshire farm­stead that in­cludes ac­com­mo­da­tion, camp­ing, a farm shop/ cafe and moun­tain bik­ing, are as strong on ethics as they are on pro­vid­ing an ex­cel­lent recre­ational stop-off.

An hour from Ed­in­burgh and Glas­gow, this is a place with a stated vi­sion of be­ing a model for ru­ral re­gen­er­a­tion, with per­ma­cul­ture, con­ser­va­tion, self­suf­fi­ciency and sus­tain­abil­ity high on the list. So while you’re snug­gled up in­side your hand­made Nordic-style kata tent with wood-burn­ing stove (think wig­wam but more glam), en­joy what the Com­rie Croft folks de­scribe as “wild camp­ing with­out the hard­ship”. And be safe in the knowl­edge that, thanks to fair pay, those who work here are safe from hard­ship too.­ LET THEM TELL YOU A STORY At Rab­bie’s coach tour com­pany, small is beau­ti­ful. They in­vite cus­tomers to “travel the lo­cal way on small group tours” around the High­lands or through whisky coun­try. Though they once tried us­ing larger coaches, they felt it made the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence less per­sonal and, frankly, the buses were too dif­fi­cult to ma­noeu­vre in those out-of-the-way places Rab­bie’s likes to take peo­ple. So they went back to 16-seaters and pro­claimed they would never go big again.

Their award-win­ning small group tours are world renowned for their driver-guides, who are some of the best sto­ry­tellers and his­to­ri­ans around. And they prom­ise that you’ll al­ways take the scenic route – be­cause these coaches fit the small coun­try roads and tight city cor­ners. Owner Robin “Rab­bie” Worsnop was told his vi­sion for a busi­ness – and sin­gle Sherpa van – wouldn’t work back in 1993. He’s proved them wrong. His stated vi­sion is “to make the world a bet­ter place through travel”. And that in­cludes pay­ing a fair wage. www.rab­ CAP­I­TAL FOOD FOR THE CAP­I­TAL CITY No visit to Ed­in­burgh is com­plete with­out a stop-off at The Mus­sel And Steak Bar, nes­tled in the heart of the city’s Grass­mar­ket. They take their seafood se­ri­ously, with dishes that scream fresh and Scot­tish: mus­sel pots with whisky, chilli and gin­ger, and Thai curry; mus­sels served with surf and turf steak; and plates of oys­ters, lan­goustines and salmon. So se­ri­ously that they reg­u­larly send staff on vis­its to en­hance their own pro­duce knowl­edge. More at www.mus­se­land­steak­ STAND UP FOR FAIR PAY As the Ed­in­burgh Fringe cel­e­brates its 70th an­niver­sary, one of its most pop­u­lar com­edy venues has an­other cause for cel­e­bra­tion: its com­mit­ment to fair pay. The Stand com­edy club, Scot­land’s orig­i­nal and world fa­mous pur­pose-built com­edy club, is an ac­cred­ited Liv­ing Wage em­ployer.

Kenny O’Brien, di­rec­tor of The Stand, with com­edy clubs in Glas­gow and Newcastle, en­cour­aged more arts venues to be­come Liv­ing Wage ac­cred­ited. The Stand has 50 em­ploy­ees, a num­ber that tre­bles dur­ing the Fringe.

He says: “Be­ing an ac­cred­ited Liv­ing Wage em­ployer en­sures a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. We see the ben­e­fit of that in our ex­tremely low staff turnover. Many of our staff stay for years. It also en­cour­ages sea­sonal staff for events like The Fringe to come back year af­ter year, which saves us time and money on re­train­ing and, most im­por­tantly, means our cus­tomers get bet­ter served. For those rea­sons I would highly en­cour­age oth­ers in the arts sec­tor to con­sider it.”

O’Brien adds: “We have al­ways paid above the in­dus­try norm. It some­times means we have to pass ex­tra costs on to the cus­tomer, but we still en­deav­our to keep prices as low as we can. We want to make live com­edy as ac­ces­si­ble to ev­ery­one as pos­si­ble.” www.the­s­ IT’S BET­TER TO TRAVEL ETH­I­CALLY ... Scot­land’s rail net­work ScotRail has never been more eco­nom­i­cal to use, with chil­dren go free of­fers, a loy­alty card for the over-50s and down­load­able vouch­ers for visi­tor at­trac­tions. And now that ScotRail, a fran­chise of Abel­lio UK, is an ac­cred­ited Liv­ing Wage em­ployer, it’s right on track with pay as well. For routes and ticket of­fers Mean­while, Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) was the first ferry op­er­a­tor in the UK to achieve Liv­ing Wage ac­cred­i­ta­tion. The com­mit­ment cov­ers 1450 staff, many of whom live and work in re­mote or eco­nom­i­cally frag­ile ar­eas around Scot­land’s west coast. That means that ev­ery time you hop a CalMac ferry you’re boost­ing a work­force as well as Scot­land’s tourism sec­tor.

Com­rie Croft of­fers camp­ing with­out the hard­ship ... for guests and staff

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