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