Scotland on road to Net Zero after COP26

New projects are to set Scottish tourism sector firmly on the road to Net Zero

A package of COP26 legacy projects will see Scotland’s tourism sector lead the world in the race to net zero.

Through the Scottish Government’s Tourism Recovery Programme, global sustainable tourism body The Travel Foundation has been appointed to work with Scotland’s three economic development agencies and VisitScotland.

The appointment follows on from the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism, launched at COP26 and now being delivered in partnership with the UN’s World Tourism Organisation, which both the Travel Foundation and VisitScotland helped draft.

Part of the Destination Net Zero programme, and developed by the Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG), the projects will accelerate climate action within the sector, while sharing the lessons so that destinations worldwide can also benefit.

Together, they will deliver three projects –

  • pilot schemes in Glasgow, the Outer Hebrides and Inverness & Loch Ness to support destinations to develop green action plans;
  • working with major tour operator The Travel Corporation on another pilot specifically targetting emissions from ground transport and food production in the sector;
  • supporting Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, South of Scotland Enterprise, VisitScotland and other stakeholders in the transition of the sector to net zero

The Travel Foundation is working with the UN’s World Tourism Organisation to coordinate the Glasgow Declaration and support the more than 500 businesses and organisations who have signed up, recognising that many tourism businesses and destinations have the motivation but not always the tools and know-how to take action.

These Scottish pilot projects will directly feed into the Travel Foundation’s efforts to address this.

Tourism Minister Ivan McKee said:”Destination Net Zero will play an important role in helping support Scotland’s tourism sector transition to a low carbon future through globally recognised leadership in responsible, sustainable managed growth.”

“Our ambitious climate targets align with our intention for Scotland to be world leading in 21st century tourism as set out in Scotland Outlook 2030, our national tourism strategy.”

Jeremy Sampson, CEO of The Travel Foundation, said:”Scotland has adopted a leadership role on climate action in tourism, and the work we are doing now will improve understanding of – and hopefully resolve – some of the challenges that all destinations are facing as they plan their transition towards net zero. It is important that other destinations follow in Scotland’s footsteps, and we hope these initiatives will create useful tools, guidance and a way forward.”

Malcolm Roughead OBE, Chief Executive of VisitScotland said: “As the first national tourism organisation to declare a climate emergency, we have long been committed to leading the development of Scotland as a responsible destination. Climate change is one of the biggest long-term challenges facing the tourism sector. We must take action if we want to preserve and enhance Scotland’s natural and built assets to create an environment which benefits communities, businesses and our visitors. Through the Destination Net Zero programme, we want to support tourism businesses on their journey to net zero. By working together, we can help Scotland become a world-class destination, and the best destination for responsible tourism​.”

Elaine Morrison, Scottish Enterprise’s Director of Place said: “Our net zero framework is supporting the Scottish Government’s net zero 2045 targets across the business environment and our just transition to a strong, green economy requires the full participation of our industries. So it is exciting to be working in partnership with some of Scotland’s most innovative businesses and places helping them achieve a responsible tourism future.”

“Tourism plays a vital role in communities throughout Scotland. Despite being severely impacted by the covid crisis, the industry is showing tremendous leadership working with global experts to learn. This work and the collaborative approach across private and public sector will deliver experiences and products focused on new consumer expectations and contribute to the Scottish Government’s net zero target.”

The Travel Corporation’s Scottish brands include Haggis Adventures and Highland Explorer Tours, and the company has recently developed an internal carbon calculator.

The Travel Corporation’s Scottish based brands include Haggis Adventures, Highland Explorer Tours and The Skye Inn, in addition to group touring brands such as Contiki, Trafalgar and Insight Vacations and Red Carnation Hotel group, who are opening the 5-star 100 Princes Street in Edinburgh later this year.

The company has recently developed an internal carbon calculator that will help with Scope 3 estimates – the emissions that occur in the tourism value chain such as accommodations, ground transport and food production – and be integral to setting the group’s carbon reduction targets.

Shannon Guihan, Chief Sustainability Officer & Head of TreadRight at The Travel Corporation said: “As we embark on our own ambitious path to reduce our carbon, the need to engage directly with progressive destinations is clear to us. We, as the visitor and Scotland, as the host in this case, can identify practical steps to address our Scope 3 emissions, addressing the challenge from the perspective of supply and demand jointly rather than in our own silos. Our brands such as Haggis Adventures, Highland Explorer Tours, Trafalgar and more are dedicated to operationalising Scotland’s own net zero ambitions.”

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