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  • The Scottish Government has set a 2045 target for net zero emissions of all greenhouse gasses, with a target reduction of 75% by 2030 and 90% by 2040.
  • Net zero means the amount of greenhouse gas emssions we put into the atmosphere, minus the amount we're able to take out, will sum up to zero.
  • Destination net zero is a key strand of the COVID-19 Tourism Recovery Programme. As part of the "pathway to net zero", we commissioned Progressive Partnership to undertake an industry survey to investigate the attitudes and behaviours of Scottish tourism businesses towards a carbon neutral economy.
  • The research included a mix of telephone interviews, online surveys and in-depth interviews. Fieldwork took place between September and November 2021.

Net Zero Industry Survey 2021

Published April 2022

Read the full report

1. Key statistics


of businesses use local producers or suppliers as much as possible


are concerned about the impact of climate change on their business


of businesses were aware of the Scottish Government's 2045 net zero target


of attractions and activities already have a policy, strategy or action plan in place

2. Executive summary

Most tourism businesses expressed concern about climate change. They rated "being sustainable" and "reducing emissions" as important priorities and want to take action to minimise the environmental impact of their activities.


Action taken

Almost all businesses have taken steps to reduce the environmental impact of their activities. Just less than half have a strategy in place or are in the process of creating one.

42% have made someone responsible for improving their environmental performance. Although only three in ten have recognised accreditation or awards. 

Larger organisations, attractions, and activity providers tended to have more progress. They were more likely to have a strategy in place and have implemented measures than smaller organisations and accommodation providers.


Awareness of net zero

There is a strong awareness of the Scottish Government's net zero target. But most have not yet made a plan on how to achieve this and do not currently measure their emissions.

One in ten businesses surveyed currently measure their carbon emissions. This proportion is higher for attractions, activity providers, and larger organisations.


Challenges and barriers

The key barriers for implementing change included:

  • cost
  • lack of funding / support
  • practical constraints due to location / property
  • practical limitations of their business activity

Attitudes of customers, staff, and management were seldom seen as a barrier to change.

3. Methodology

The research included a mix of telephone interviews, online surveys, and interviews. This was to find out more about the attitudes and behaviours of tourism businesses towards a carbon neutral economy.

We commissioned the survey, which Progressive Partnership carried out. Fieldwork was undertaken in the lead-up to and during the UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 (COP26).

Fieldwork (telephone and online surveys) took place between 30 September and 1 November 2021. The final sample size was 460. Fieldwork (online depth interviews) took place between 28 October and 16 November 2021. The final sample was nine.

A detailed breakdown of the sample by the main business activity is available in the full report to download.

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