What is Sustainable Tourism?


VisitScotland's definition of sustainable tourism


Sustainable tourism is tourism committed to generating a low impact on the surrounding environment and community by acting responsibly while generating income and employment for the local economy and aiding social cohesion. Sustainable tourism aims to ensure that economic development as a result of tourism is a positive experience for everyone involved; local community, tourism businesses and visitors.


What does sustainable tourism mean in practice?

  • Greener transport - transport is central to tourism, but it also puts pressure on our natural resources and makes a contribution to our global environmental impact. Measures like encouraging visitors to use public transport, and innovations in cleaner forms of transport will help in this area.
  • Seasonal and geographical pressures - a more even spread of visitors reduces pressure on natural and built environments and on communities, and maximises the economic benefits. VisitScotland tailors its marketing campaign to encourage a spread of visitors throughout the year and around the country, e.g. Surprise Yourself.
  • Understanding the impacts - we need to work with partners to measure the environmental and social impacts of tourism so we can ensure that tourism development brings a positive experience for local people, tourism companies and the tourists themselves.
  • Greener accommodation - a sustainable tourism industry will be one in which all accommodation providers minimise their waste, energy and water use. The Green Tourism Business Scheme encourages businesses to reduce their environmental impact. With over 800 Scottish members the scheme is one of the largest of its kind in Europe.

How will Scottish tourism benefit from becoming more sustainable?


Because it safeguards the very assets on which Scottish tourism depends, taking a sustainable approach to tourism growth is the only way to ensure long-term tourism growth in Scotland. Ignoring the environmental or social impacts of tourism development will ultimately undermine the success of tourism in this country.


Visitors benefit from a sustainable approach to tourism through better links with local communities, a high quality tourism experience and a natural and built environment that is cared for.


Becoming a sustainable tourism destination will give Scottish tourism businesses a competitive edge by generating greater community support for tourism, achieving cost savings and creating new marketing opportunities.




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