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Article published 19/01/2022

Creating a long-lasting sustainable tourism destination

Climate change is one of the biggest long-term challenges facing the tourism sector now and in the future. Scotland is already considered as a leader in the field of responsible tourism – and now is the time to take it to the next level.

A responsible and low carbon approach to re-building and growing tourism in Scotland needs to be a priority and destinations have a key part to play.

We are committed to working with the industry, our visitors, destinations and communities to create a long-lasting sustainable tourism destination, which will protect the environment and benefit visitors and residents alike.

As part of this commitment we are coordinating the Destination Climate Action Plan pilot project, which will support Scottish destinations to identify actions and develop a Climate Action Plan.

Tourism Declares and the Glasgow Declaration

But first, some background. VisitScotland was the first National Tourism Organisation to sign up to the Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency initiative and was a member of the drafting committee of the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism, along with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Travel Foundation and Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency, which was launched at COP26.

Supporting the Glasgow Declaration presents a unique opportunity to demonstrate globally the decisive action that Scotland’s tourism and events industry is taking over the coming decade, in the face of the climate crisis.

For Scotland to undertake effective action on its path to net zero and deliver on the Scottish Government targets and ambitions of The Glasgow Declaration, it will be necessary to embed climate action into destination strategies and plans.

Destination Climate Action Planning Project

As part of the Destination Net Zero programme, we’re running the Destination Climate Action Planning Project, working with the Travel Foundation, who will be providing the advice and support to participating destinations.

The project will help Scottish tourism destinations build the conditions to create and implement their own climate action plans.

It supports Scotland’s, and the industry’s, wider commitments to Net Zero and will help destinations to understand and manage their own climate impacts.

This project is open to all destinations in Scotland – destination organisations, local authorities and other partners involved in tourism strategy development and delivery.

Due to the nature of this project (i.e. a pilot initiative that will act as a demonstration for other Scottish destinations), every attempt will be made to select participants that represent different tourism types and contexts.

How can destinations get involved with the project?

  • 1 | Introduction to Destination Climate Action Planning Workshops

    Open to all destinations virtual workshops will be conducted between February and March 2022, to help Scottish destinations understand climate action planning at a destination level and good practice across the five pathways of The Glasgow Declaration.

    Workshop sessions will take place:   

    • Tuesday 8 February 2022, 2pm – 4pm  
    • Tuesday 29 March 2022, 2pm – 4pm


    You only need to sign up once to attend both workshops, with each covering different content.

    Please register to attend these workshops now.

  • 2 | Extended Destination Climate Action Planning Support Pilot

    Three Scottish destinations in Glasgow, the Outer Hebrides, and Inverness and Loch Ness have been selected to participate in an extended support pilot over February and March 2022.

    The three destinations will receive support and mentoring in undertaking the development of an Initial Climate Action Plan, which will include:

    • A series of Climate Quick Wins (six – 18 months implementation timeframe)
    • Building blocks for future planning cycles such as foundation actions which support the strengthening of stakeholder capacity, governance, and resourcing


    We had some really excellent submissions to be part of the pilot and it is wonderful to see that so many destinations have the desire to tackle climate change and prioritise responsible and sustainable growth. Businesses that submitted Expressions of Interest were contacted on 3 February 2022.

What is expected of the three destination participants?

Each pilot destination will be supported by The Travel Foundation to develop its own initial action plan, to ensure local ownership and engagement. This will be achieved through a series of activities designed to provide guidance, inspiration, connection, feedback, and mentorship. 

The participants (e.g. DMOs, local authorities) will be prepared to allocate a lead staff member or consultant who will engage approx. 1.5 days per week during February – March.

Participants will also be able to quickly form (or leverage an existing) advisory group of three to five key stakeholders within their destination, who will be able to actively support the planning process during this time period (anticipated commitment for key stakeholders of approx. 0.25 days per week between February – March).

It’s also recommended that wider stakeholder consultation should take place at the end of the project (from March onwards). N.B. This does not form part of the pilot programme.

The advice and support will be provided through a mixture of one-to-one and peer-to-peer online sessions over the period 9 February – 29 March 2022, including: 

Three individual sessions with advisors, at a convenient time: 

  • Session one: between 9 – 11 February 2022 
  • Session two: between 28 February – 4 March 2022 
  • Session three: between 21 – 23 March 2022

Two peer-to-peer sessions with the other two pilot destinations: 

  • Session one: Tuesday 22 February 2022, 2pm - 4pm
  • Session two: Tuesday 15 March 2022, 2pm - 4pm

The selection process

Expression of Interest submissions for the Extended Destination Climate Action Planning Support Pilot closed on 28 January 2022 and were subsequently reviewed taking the following factors into consideration:

  • Destination management

    Demonstrable commitment to destination management / stewardship (e.g. lead or key partner in development and / or delivery of destination strategy and action plan)

  • Action

    Demonstrable commitment to climate action (e.g. destination is a signatory to The Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism and / or has an existing strategic commitment towards development of a climate action plan)

  • Needs

    Clear demonstration of need for this project within your destination such as the value that this programme can add to current plans / strategies (e.g. helping your destination to start addressing climate with stakeholders / building on existing commitments)

  • Resources

    Ability to provide suitable resources for the pilot, including profile(s) of project lead(s) and proposed working group

Further information

If you have any questions please contact