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Green certification

Tackling climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing Scottish tourism now. Consumer concern over the environment and climate has doubled in the last decade and visitors are increasingly seeking out businesses and destinations with excellent green credentials.

Gaining green certification provides a good opportunity to showcase your green credentials as well as managing your sustainability actions.

What is green certification?

A certification scheme provides a third-party assessment of your businesses environmental and sustainable practices.

Generally, an assessor will measure your business against the scheme criteria, which can cover a range of sustainability aspects. By meeting those criteria, you gain the certification’s label, which can then be used as an independently verified badge of validation for your business.

Renewed regularly to ensure you are maintaining your sustainability activities, it formalises your current environmental work in a visible and verifiable way to your staff, customers, suppliers and community.

Why join a certification scheme?

Sustainability certification schemes have a range of benefits. Taking part in a scheme is a great way of reviewing your environmental, social, and economic impact and facilitating action to maximise the positive benefits to your business and wider community and environment.

The independent verification of the actions you take, can provide a robust and credible certification to help promote your sustainability commitment to potential customers, benefitting your business as well as developing a more sustainable destination. 

Benefits of joining a scheme

  • Proves your commitment

    It helps to demonstrate your commitment to the environment and community by increasing sustainable business practices

  • Reduce carbon footprint

    It’s a great way of reducing not just your carbon footprint, but also energy, water and waste bills too

  • Monitor and improve

    Certification provides your business with a useful management framework to monitor and help improve your sustainable practices

  • Raise awareness

    It can help raise awareness and facilitate behavioural change of guests, staff, and suppliers

  • Marketing advantage

    You could achieve marketing advantage over your competitors by meeting increased demand for sustainable businesses 

  • Supporting your visitors

    You also make it easier for visitors to make environmentally conscious travel decisions

Sustainable Tourism Certification Scheme | discounted membership offer

Earlier this year, as part of the Destination Net Zero Programme, we launched the Sustainability Certification Scheme Fund for Tourism Recovery. It provided grant funding to certification providers to support businesses to recover from the impacts of COVID-19 in a sustainable manner.

As a result, three sustainable tourism certification scheme providers were successful in securing funds to offer tourism businesses a membership fee discount. A total of £60,000 was allocated to the three programmes - EarthCheck, Green Key and Green Tourism.

Scheme providers

Green Tourism

£50,000, aim to support around 150 new certified businesses

Green Key

£5,000, to support 10 new certified businesses


£5,000, to support 10 new certified businesses

Join now

The certification programme providers are offering a £500 discount to businesses joining their certification schemes before March 2023 (or until all funding is used up). The discounts are limited, and will be provided on a first come, first served basis.

The discount will mean eligible tourism businesses will get membership for the first year either discounted or even free depending on the certification fees. Businesses can contact their certification programme of choice directly and make an application for membership.

Take a look at the three programmes to see which one is best for your business.

Green Tourism is also offering businesses located within a UNESCO Trail postcode area a discount on the first year of membership of up to £500 and thereafter membership will automatically renew with a 50% discount of your fees in year two and three.

Take a look at the Scotland's UNESCO Trail | Green certification offer.

Available programmes

Who can receive a discount?

Micro, small and SME businesses within the tourism sector are eligible for discounted membership from the certification scheme programme providers.

All businesses will need to meet the certification programme’s eligibility requirements.

Ineligible businesses

  • Non-tourism businesses 
  • Non-micro businesses, non-small businesses and non-SME businesses 
  • Lapsed members of a Sustainability Certification Scheme Providers’ Scheme who cancelled their membership on or after 1 November 2021 
  • Local authority or public body owned / managed businesses supply chain businesses for events and tourism sectors (e.g. florists, caterers, photographers, chauffeur, taxi services, etc.)
  • An individual event or multiple set of connected events 
  • Venues that are not open for bookings by members of the public (i.e. an exclusive member-only organisation venue)
  • Transport providers without a tourism product (i.e. coach hire, car hire, taxi services, boat hire, ferry operators)
  • Large educational establishments such as schools, colleges and universities   
  • Non-tourism accommodation (non-tourism hostels, workers accommodation and long term lets)

Scotland's UNESCO Trail | Green certification offer

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