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  • Rebuilding Scotland's visitor economy responsibly helps our communities and visitors form strong relationships. This allows our local communities to benefit from tourism.
  • During 2021, visits from the rest of the UK and overseas markets to Scotland were limited due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. During this period, research with Scotland's residents could be caried out with a focus on responsible tourism.
  • The research was commissioned by VisitScotland and carried out by 56 Degrees Insight.
  • We studied how residents feel about climate change. We also explored the sustainable behaviours that they may adopt when on holiday in the future.
  • Fieldwork took place between 3-11 August 2021. 1,015 respondents completed an online survey. Further information on the sample is available within the full report to download.

Full report - Scotland resident's view on responsible tourism 2021

Published February 2022

A focus on the role of responsible tourism.

1. Key statistics from the research


are willing to go off the beaten track in Scotland


would be willing to travel more in the off-peak season in Scotland


would choose independent local shops, cafes, restaurants in Scotland


would be willing to pay more for locally sourced and produced food and drink


would consider car free days when on holiday in Scotland


would consider public transport once in destination


would search out places to eat that source local food and drink


would choose vegan or vegetarian options more often when eating out on holiday in Scotland

Source: Scotland Residents' View on Tourism, 2021

2. Views on climate change

73% of Scottish residents see climate change as an immediate and urgent problem. The importance of tackling climate change has increased for many following the pandemic.

45% are more concerned now than pre-pandemic.

3. Future travel behaviours

The importance of climate change is recognised. But there is more limited willingness among many to change future travel behaviours.

As many as 49% of Scotland's residents are unlikely to think about sustainability when on holiday. 46% will still find reasons to travel internationally despite concerns.

This is especially the case among young independents. That is despite this group being most aware and sympathetic towards tackling climate change.

For domestic holidays, there may be deep-rooted beliefs around accommodation choice and travel options.

However, there is some willingness to change around some areas of responsible tourism. This is most notably around food and drink choices, energy consumption and car free days.

4. Views on responsible tourism in Scotland

55% are concerned with the impact of tourism on Scotland’s natural environment. Litter, threats to local wildlife and overcrowding at popular tourist sites were the main concerns.

68% are keen to reduce their energy consumption whilst on holiday in Scotland. However, there is a clear need for more advice and education on how to make holidays greener or more sustainable with 42% unsure.

5. Views on tourism businesses

The top five areas where Scotland residents believe that tourism businesses could do more are:

  • sourcing local products (72%)
  • providing information to tourists on local natural and cultural attractions (71%)
  • employing staff local to the area (70%)
  • committing to reduce carbon energy consumption (62%)
  • committing to reduce carbon emissions (61%)

Read more about accommodation choices and transport including electric cars in the full report.

6. Methodology

The research used an online survey based on a representative sample of Scotland residents. The analysis provides a representative viewpoint of the Scottish adult population. The survey was commissioned by VisitScotland and carried out by 56 Degrees Insight.

Fieldwork took place between 3-11 August 2021. Respondents were recruited from Yonder Data Solutions' consumer panel. 1,015 respondents completed the questionnaire.

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