By Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive, VisitScotland.
Our scenery, nature and landscapes are among Scotland’s most special features. They’re loved across the world and are undoubtedly an integral part of our DNA as a destination.
But with these precious assets likely to bare the impacts of climate change, reaching net zero and ensuring we protect them for future generations has never been more important.
What’s encouraging is everyone understands the need for action against climate change. Our own research shows that three quarters of Scottish tourism businesses are aware of the Scottish Government’s target to be net zero by 2045. And it’s particularly positive that the majority of tourism businesses view the reduction of emissions as a priority, with a third having a plan in place to take action.
To help businesses, as part of the Destination Net Zero work we have run with partners, we’ve developed a series of resources on our VisitScotland.org website. These will help businesses measure carbon emissions and understand how a transition to low carbon can positively affect communities, the environment and businesses – including their own bottom line.
Tourism is a force for good which benefits communities and wellbeing across the country. I’ve been so impressed by the efforts that businesses are making to become sustainable. From investing in sustainable practices such as joining a green certification scheme and installing electric vehicle charge points for visitors, working with local suppliers; and creating voluntourism opportunities.
Scotland’s tourism industry couldn’t exist without our international visitors. They stay longer and spend more than their domestic counterparts. But we want to make sure their time in Scotland is as sustainable as possible. We’re supporting the development of net zero tourism itineraries and the reduction of carbon across the wider tourism supply chain.
We know that visitors also want to see these low-carbon tourism experiences on offer. Most visitors are aware of their impact on the world around them. They actively want to know that these impacts are having a positive effect on the places and people they encounter. To do that, they need to travel more sustainably. It means that as well as an ethical need to embrace sustainable tourism, there is a growing business case too.
It’s also positive that like-minded destinations around the world want to learn from Scotland’s approach. We’ve been exchanging best practice with others striving to reach net zero, finding solutions to the common issues being faced globally.
So, with the challenges of reaching net zero come opportunities and our aim is to help Scottish tourism on this journey. It’s more important than ever to ensure that tourism is part of the solution in tackling the climate emergency. This is not something that we, or any one individual business or destination can do alone. We must all work together if we want to accelerate our progress to net zero to protect our planet and our country for future generations.