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Tackling climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing Scotland's tourism and events sector. Our natural and cultural assets, the things that make Scotland so special, are at risk from the impacts of climate change.

It is now more important than ever to ensure that tourism is part of the solution in tackling the climate emergency. We want to set out our commitment to positive change and reinforce that tourism is a force for good. We want to inspire future generations to say that Scottish tourism and events led the way and made a difference. Our Destination Net Zero Climate Action Plan sets out how we will do that, supporting the sector to meet Scotland's net zero ambitions.

This page provides an executive summary of our Action Plan. You also have the option to download the full document for more detail on our approach. 

VisitScotland's Destination Net Zero Climate Action Plan

Published May 2023

Our net zero ambitions

Supporting the global commitment to tackle climate change, the Scottish Government has set ambitious, but necessary, targets to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 (Scottish Government website).

Climate action has also been identified as a priority within the national tourism strategy Scotland Outlook 2030 (Scottish Tourism Alliance website) and the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation (Scottish Government website).

VisitScotland is committed to taking bold action and championing change. We were the first national tourism organisation to join Tourism Declares and declare a Climate Emergency. We were also on the drafting committee and a founding signatory of the Glasgow Declaration for Climate Action in Tourism, which is published on the One Planet network website.

Purpose of the plan

The purpose of our Destination Net Zero Climate Action Plan is to support and speed up climate action within the Scottish tourism and events sector. This will ensure we make progress towards net zero at the pace and scale required.

The plan covers an initial period of three years, from 2023 - 2026 and is focused on VisitScotland’s key areas of influence. We will work with businesses, destinations and visitors to influence and drive change and deliver the plan.

Our own internal targets and actions will also make sure we are working towards the same goals and values within our own organisation. Further information on our internal activity can be in our sustainability annual report.

Priority action areas

Climate action needs to address key areas to support Scotland’s transition to a low carbon economy aligned with the Scottish Government climate action plan.

  • Measure, monitor and report on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 
  • Energy efficiency and renewables
  • Resource use and Waste Reduction (Circularity)
  • Low carbon consumption
  • Low carbon transport and active travel
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Protect and restore natural environments

To speed up Scottish tourism’s journey to net zero, VisitScotland will develop and deliver actions in line with the following priority areas:

  • Collective ownership

    Embed our climate action plan into our planning and management processes to encourage shared ownership across VisitScotland.

  • Insights and measurement

    Build and share data and insights, to inform practical actions, develop new measures of success and measure and monitor progress.

  • Net zero advice and tools

    Build knowledge and skills so that tourism and events businesses and destinations can develop their climate action plans and take climate action at pace.

  • Support net zero product development

    Support businesses and events and their supply chain to develop low carbon products and itineraries.

  • Visitor engagement and communication

    Inspire, inform, and influence visitors to make low carbon choices in their trip planning and when visiting.

  • Collaboration

    Collaborate with partners to find, inspire and share ideas, best practice and solutions. This will position Scotland as a leader in taking action to achieve net zero targets.


Collective leadership, by our senior management, will ensure responsible tourism is at the heart of all our activity. The action plan will be delivered and monitored by VisitScotland's:

  • dedicated Responsible Tourism Team
  • Responsible Tourism Steering Group
  • internal Sustainability Group 

More details on the responsibility of these groups can be found within the full Destination Net Zero Climate Action Plan.

We will report annually on the actions undertaken and the progress made.

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