It’s better to travel ethically
LOW PAY IS COMMON IN THE HOSPITALITY AND TOURISM SECTORS. SO CAN YOU ENJOY A TRIP WITH A CLEAN CONSCIENCE? BRIDGET MORRIS TRACKS DOWN COMPANIES THAT HAVE PLEDGED TO PAY STAFF A LIVING WAGE
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.kelvingroveparkcafe.co.uk 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.springbankwhisky.com 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.eileandonancastle.com 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.scallowayhotel.com 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. www.comriecroft.com 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.rabbies.com/en 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.musselandsteakbar.com 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.thestand.co.uk 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 www.scotrail.co.uk 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. www.calmac.co.uk
Comrie Croft offers camping without the hardship ... for guests and staff