The welcome impact of Scotland’s tourism sector on sustainable business

Thu 29 Mar 18

Sustainable tourism business in Scotland has saved 1 million tonnes of water and ¼ million tonnes of carbon according to an impacts report published by the sustainable accreditation organisation, Green Tourism.

The report, entitled “20 years of making a difference”, addresses the positive impact Green Tourism accredited businesses have had on the environment over a period of twenty years. It was released today at a Scottish Tourism Alliance reception at the Scottish Parliament attended by Fiona Hyslop MSP.

Green Tourism sustainability assessments undertaken by the organisation spanning the last twenty years have revealed carbon and water savings, habitat and biodiversity creation, waste recovery, local procurement and business savings.

The detailed analysis was undertaken across tourism businesses including accommodation providers, visitor attractions, tour operators and event and conference venues across Scotland.

The impact of a combined sustainable approach across 809 Scottish accredited businesses shows that 5 million ‘green’ bed nights were enjoyed last year (2017), with 25 million visitors choosing sustainable destinations, attractions and venues in 2016.

Furthermore, a staggering 1.5 million trees have been planted by environmentally-aware tourism businesses over the last 20 years.

The report also shows that the ‘green movement’ is gaining traction with 30% of tourism businesses now part of a local food initiative, an increase of 150% in 5 years.

Speaking of the results, Green Tourism managing director, Andrea Nicholas, said: “Green Tourism’s impact over the last 20 years has seen the growth of renewable energy sources, millions of tonnes of carbon and water saved and a stronger emphasis on local produce amongst participating businesses. Tourism is in a unique position to deliver sustainable goals as the industry connects people, places and our planet.”

The report also highlights that 298 (84%) food service businesses have switched to sustainable sourcing with at least 60% of their menus coming from local producers in the last year.

Green Tourism’s Chairman, Jon Proctor, added: “By assessing the performance of businesses against over 150 sustainability indicators, we have access to in-depth data on what sustainable organisations are doing in order to meet their sustainability goals. This is an ongoing process highlighting where improvements can be made and it goes beyond cost savings; we encourage tourism businesses to invest in their local community by enabling guests to experience local cultural experiences or social projects. Our research has shown that Green Tourism accredited businesses are more efficient and offer better customer experiences.”

One such business is Crieff Hydro in Perthshire which started off with a Bronze award in 2008 and is now a Gold award holder. Measures adopted by the family-owned business include replacing old lights with LED lights over the last 10 years at a cost of £150,000, but with total savings of £¼ million. Furthermore, the recycling of used soap bars to Mary’s Meals in Dunblane diverted 280kg of soap from landfill and supported countries with poor sanitation.

Looking to the future, Green Tourism is setting ambitious targets to broaden its reach and penetration.

Andrea explains: “Our ambitions are to support a wider range and number of businesses through digital technologies. By making assessments more accessible and productive and reporting easier we can support businesses on their green journey which, cumulatively is making a significant impact on the environment.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “The success of Scottish tourism rests not only on its economic competitiveness but also on protecting and enhancing the environment, society and culture, which are vital to the brand, the industry and our ability to continue to attract visitors from around the world time and time again.

“The fantastic work of Green Tourism over the past 20 years, and the businesses that have implemented a wide range of environmental and social practices, has made great strides in spearheading and showcasing sustainable tourism in Scotland.

“Scotland’s reputation as a quality destination relies on continued investment and innovation. As visitors become more socially and environmentally conscious – as identified by our 2017 Trend, 'Hunt for Sustainability' – going green has become increasingly important.”

Green Tourism managing director Andrea Nicholas (centre) & Green Toruism CEO Jon Proctor

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