How you can promote sustainable and responsible tourism
In Scotland, almost three quarter of residents agree that climate change is an immediate and urgent problem. So, there’s a real opportunity for businesses to shout about their eco experiences and cater for a market that recognises the need for action.
We’re asking the industry to prioritise responsible and sustainable growth. Play your part in helping Scotland to become a world-class low carbon destination, and the best destination for responsible tourism.
Make sure to share your story with your customers, who want to travel more sustainably. Let people know what you’re doing and that you have committed to this journey, and help them to reduce their carbon emissions when visiting.
Foster collaboration and ensure that we learn from each other and can go faster and further in our collective journey to net zero.
We continue to be inspired by all the great work that many businesses are already undertaking:
Case study films | living responsible tourism
Check out these sustainable case studies of businesses fostering green production or community practices:
Inclusive tourism case studies
The Soirbheas Community Group in Glen Urquhart & Strathglass reinvest revenue from renewable energy schemes into a range of projects to benefit their communities. This includes a major focus on inclusion and accessibility, to make the area a better place to live in and visit.
The OpenNESS Inclusive Communities project brings together local partners including The Patient Participation Group, The Glenurquhart Centre and The Drumnadrochit Chamber of Commerce to create dementia-friendly communities. There are also plans in development to make Drumnadrochit a dementia-friendly destination.
The community group also piloted a respite holidays project with the Clansman Hotel. This provided accommodation for carers, discounted food and excursions.
Learning and development
The group deliver learning and development workshops to improve confidence on how to communicate and support people with additional requirements or physical needs. Including hearing and sight loss, and autism awareness. The training and awareness sessions are delivered through a range of accessible means and offer supporting resources.
Access for all
Soirbheas Community Group are also developing better streetscapes including buildings, to improve pavements, cycle ways and access for all. The Community Council have begun scoping cycle ways. The Loch Ness Hub toilets and buildings have been renovated for the benefit of those visiting the area.
Lewiston village near Drumnadrochit. Image credit VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins
2020 Scottish Thistle Awards, Inclusive Tourism Award winner
For three weeks in August, artists and performers host shows across many venues and locations in Edinburgh. The variety of shows include theatre, comedy, dance, physical theatre, circus, cabaret, children's shows, musicals, opera, music, spoken word, exhibitions and events. These are supported by the charity, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society.
To mark the Fringe’s 70th anniversary, the Fringe Society published the Fringe Blueprint, a series of commitments to work towards ahead of the festival’s 75th anniversary in 2022. Its main commitment to create a truly open Fringe removing barriers to entry. Ensuring that everyone who wants to can attend and take part. Done in consultation with the charity Attitude is Everything.
Fringe Blueprint commitments
• Providing an access bookings service, to help people with access requirements find shows and book tickets.
• Establishing accessible viewing areas so wheelchair users could enjoy street events.
• Loaning out 80 sensory backpacks to autistic children and adults. Each backpack contains items designed to make their experience of the Fringe more enjoyable.
• Providing British Sign Language interpretation at one of the street events stages every Saturday of the Fringe.
• Generating accessible show listings, with details of signed, relaxed, captioned and audio-described performances.
• Providing a Changing Places toilet (with an adult-sized changing bench and hoist) for people unable to use a standard accessible toilet.
• Utilising the Neatebox Welcome app. People with access requirements can use the app to tell staff in advance that they’re coming to the Fringe and how their visit can be improved.
• Partnership with Birds of Paradise, a disability-led theatre company, to ensure all Fringe staff (and many at independently run venues) receive disability equality training.
• Encourage venues to build accessibility into their approach. The Venue Access Award (produced in partnership with Attitude is Everything) gives venue managers a framework for making their spaces as accessible as possible. Also gives audiences information on each venue’s accessibility.
• Hosted Fringe Disabled Access Day, which introduced visitors to the access services at the Fringe Shop, in conjunction with World Fringe Day, which unites over 250 fringes worldwide and used it to promote accessibility internationally.
Performer on the Royal Mile during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Image credit: VisitScotland / Kenny Lam
The 16th edition of The Solheim Cup, the biggest event in women’s golf between the best players in Europe and USA, was staged at Gleneagles from the 9 – 15 September 2019.
Organisers, including VisitScotland and the Scottish Government alongside staging partner IMG, used the opportunity to deliver a milestone event with responsible tourism principles at its core.
This included minimising the events environmental footprint whilst including key elements of social inclusion, diversity, and equality.
A full accessibility programme was developed with input from disability charity, Euan’s Guide. A host of initiatives were introduced including, access buddies, free mobility scooters, designated disabled viewing areas and a dedicated quiet space.
A pricing policy was designed to attract families, young people, and lower-income groups. A range of child-friendly activities were also provided on-site.
Of the 90,000 spectators, more than 6,000 children under the age of 16 were able to attend free of charge, while 47% of spectators from Scotland admitted it was their first experience of a major women’s sporting event.
Minimising the environmental footprint
Some of the key environmental actions included using a park and ride service, avoiding single-use materials, protecting 19 designated wildlife areas on the Gleneagles Estate, and promoting green activities.
Organisers won Bronze in the 2020 Sports Business Awards for Sports Diversity category.
The 2019 Solheim Cup was held at Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire. Image credit: VisitScotland / Kenny Lam
V&A Dundee sits on the city’s historic riverside as part of a major development project for the waterfront area. The focus is on engaging with audiences in the museum, online and across the wider area providing many outreach programmes for schools, young people, families and communities from all backgrounds, with inclusion and accessibility built in.
How the V&A Dundee are engaging with audiences
• Wide reaching learning programme and workshops for schools, young people, families and communities held in museum and across local area, catering for those with additional support needs.
• Variety of stakeholder engagement activity and events were delivered to stay in touch with audiences and communities during the pandemic.
• Digital resources and content to widen access for those unable to visit the museum including live digital content piloted for groups locally and nationally.
• A virtual walkthrough to allow people the opportunity to explore the museum from home and plan their visit.
• Quiet room with dementia-friendly high contrast furniture, changing places facility and lifts.
V&A Dundee. Image credit: VisitScotland / Kenny Lam
We want to make sure Scotland’s natural beauty is preserved for future generations. This means:
- Driving positive economic recovery
- Ensuring people act in a responsible way
- Minimising any negative impacts
Most people treat our country and communities with respect, but there is a small minority who are acting in an irresponsible and anti-social way with potentially damaging long-term consequences.
Working alongside partner organisations across Scotland, we've been using our channels to encourage responsible behaviour and inform people on how to be a responsible visitor. Think of our responsible tourism campaign or how we amplify campaigns of other organisations that align with our vision.
Share the #RESPECTPROTECTENJOY message
Mountaineering Scotland’s campaign urges people to think twice about what they take into the hills with them to avoid leaving any litter.
It also has pick up tips for any found litter safely – using pickers, gloves, hand sanitiser, etc.
Share the water safety message
In the summer, water temperatures can still be lethally cold, and the sea can have unpredictable waves and rip currents.
If you’re a business close to or by the sea, please share the RNLI’s life saving tips.
Although inviting to cool down on a warm day, Scottish Water highlights the importance of being responsible around bodies of water.
Reservoirs in particular hold many hidden dangers.
Tonnes of plastics end up in the ocean each year. Businesses and organisations can play their part in reducing this down.
Sign up and set your business a target to cut down on plastic.
Safety around our famous landscapes
Promoting mountain safety
Mountaineering Scotland has useful resources for inexperienced walkers.
If you cater for or have links with walkers in any way, you can use these to boost their visitor experience.