Why it’s now green for go for the Scots tourist trade

The Herald - - OPINION - AN­DREA NI­CHOLAS Man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Green Tourism

IN the last 20 years, we have seen the growth of re­new­able en­ergy sources, mil­lions of tonnes of car­bon and wa­ter saved and a stronger em­pha­sis on lo­cal pro­duce amongst sus­tain­ably minded busi­ness in Scot­land.

But where did it all start?

When my busi­ness part­ner Jon Proc­tor and I launched Green Tourism, a sus­tain­able ac­cred­i­ta­tion busi­ness, 20 years ago, you might have ar­gued we were well ahead of the sus­tain­abil­ity curve. Global warm­ing wasn’t some­thing that con­cerned most peo­ple and the term car­bon foot­print cer­tainly wasn’t com­mon­place. This made our job of en­cour­ag­ing tourism busi­nesses to op­er­ate sus­tain­ably a chal­lenge.

With­out the pull of con­sumer de­mand for sus­tain­able tourism, busi­nesses did not see the ben­e­fit of in­vest­ing time and money adopt­ing en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly prac­tices.

Twenty years on and with al­most 1,000 Green Tourism-ac­cred­ited busi­nesses across Scot­land, to­talling more than 2,500 mem­bers across Bri­tain, Italy, Canada and Zim­babwe, the im­pact of our com­bined con­tri­bu­tion to pro­tect­ing the planet is im­mense.

Ad­dress­ing the pos­i­tive im­pact Green Tourism-ac­cred­ited busi­nesses have had on the en­vi­ron­ment, a de­tailed anal­y­sis was un­der­taken across these busi­nesses in­clud­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion providers, vis­i­tor at­trac­tions, tour op­er­a­tors and event and con­fer­ence venues across Scot­land. The re­sults found that Green Tourism-ac­cred­ited busi­ness in Scot­land have saved one mil­lion tonnes of wa­ter, 250,000 tonnes of car­bon and have all switched to sus­tain­able sourc­ing.

Five mil­lion “green” bed nights were en­joyed last year in 2017, with 25 mil­lion vis­i­tors choos­ing sus­tain­able des­ti­na­tions, at­trac­tions and venues the year be­fore in 2016. This shows we are now see­ing more sus­tain­ably-aware con­sumers driv­ing the green econ­omy and this is hav­ing an im­pact on tourism busi­nesses look­ing to meet this de­mand.

The ‘green move­ment’ is ex­tend­ing to food with 30 per cent of tourism busi­nesses now part of a lo­cal food ini­tia­tive

The ben­e­fits to the planet are far reach­ing – a stag­ger­ing 1.5 mil­lion trees have been planted by en­vi­ron­men­tally-aware tourism busi­nesses over the last 20 years and the “green move­ment” is ex­tend­ing to food with 30 per cent of tourism busi­nesses now part of a lo­cal food ini­tia­tive, an in­crease of 150 per cent in five years. Ad­di­tion­ally, 84 per cent of Scot­tish food ser­vice busi­nesses have switched to sus­tain­able sourc­ing with at least 60 per cent of their menus com­ing from lo­cal pro­duc­ers in the last 12 months alone.

We have seen ex­am­ples of in­no­va­tive and in­spi­ra­tional ways of meet­ing sus­tain­able goals. Once such ex­am­ple is Cri­eff Hy­dro, a gold award holder, that di­verted 280kg of used soap from land­fill, while at the same time sup­port­ing coun­tries with poor san­i­ta­tion through Mary’s meals.

We have set am­bi­tious tar­gets to broaden our reach and pen­e­tra­tion through dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies, mak­ing as­sess­ments more ac­ces­si­ble and pro­duc­tive and re­port­ing eas­ier so we can sup­port busi­nesses on their green jour­ney.

Scot­land’s rep­u­ta­tion as a qual­ity des­ti­na­tion for vis­i­tors re­lies on con­tin­ued in­vest­ment and in­no­va­tion, and with sup­port from our mem­ber busi­nesses and tourism or­gan­i­sa­tions, this is pos­si­ble. And as Visitscot­land’s trend Hunt for Sus­tain­abil­ity fur­ther high­lighted, vis­i­tors are be­com­ing more so­cially and en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious and go­ing green has be­come in­creas­ingly im­por­tant.

Our nat­u­ral re­sources are lim­ited and I be­lieve that while all busi­nesses must play their part, tourism busi­nesses are in a strong po­si­tion to de­liver sus­tain­able goals due to their unique re­la­tion­ship with peo­ple,

Agenda is a col­umn for out­side con­trib­u­tors.

Con­tact: agenda@the­herald.co.uk

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