My Column

All roads lead to a greener tourist drive

  • Date: Tuesday 3rd March 2020
column Picture

Just last month I discussed the fact that more and more Scottish businesses are aiming to become more eco-friendly.

I had used the food and drink industry as an example but I’m pleased to see developments across other key Scottish sectors in the past week or so.

VisitScotland revealed the findings of Trends 2020: Travelling towards transformational tourism at the Travalyst summit in Edinburgh. It predicts climate change and sustainability will be one of six key trends for the Scottish travel industry over the next 18 months.

The report suggests visitor destinations with green credentials are increasing in popularity while opportunities for visitors to contribute to sustainable projects will become a focus.

I’m delighted to see the issue of sustainability become a bigger factor for our tourism industry.

The industry is so important for our economy and we should be proud that so many tourists choose to visit our beautiful country. We really are so lucky to have such spectacular scenery on our doorstep.

I do sometimes wonder what impact increasing tourism and the ‘Outlander effect’ will have on this amazing landscape and what can be done to protect it.

One example that always comes to my mind is the North Coast 500.

The route, which is hailed as one of the best road trips in the world, has provided a massive boost to businesses in the area. Destinations on the route have seen an increase in visitors since it launched in 2015 to promote less visited areas of the North of Scotland.

Last year it was revealed that the NC500 contributed more than £22million to the North Highland economy in a 12 month period.

Despite this, research carried out by Stirling University last year found that the majority of residents in the area viewed the NC500 negatively and some had chosen to move away from the area because of the negative impact of tourism.

Yes, the popularity of the route has brought increased footfall and spend in the area, but it has also brought an increase in pollution and littering and has put a huge strain on local infrastructure with a much higher volume of traffic than the area is used to.

Tourism is so vital to Scotland we must look at how we can ensure its sustainability for future generations and look after our country so it continues to be a beautiful place to visit.

I hope VisitScotland’s report will help keep the momentum in the industry going with more and more tourism businesses looking at ways to become green as well as encouraging their visitors to take responsibility for their own carbon footprint and be mindful of the ways in which they can make a difference too.

It’s not just tourism that’s been in the news for looking at eco options.

Greenspace Scotland, a charity and social enterprise, released research which shows Scotland's parks could provide low-carbon energy to heat 15 percent of our homes.

A study of 3,500 green spaces suggested urban parks could be used to generate significant amounts of energy by capturing the heat in the ground, which would then be fed out to neighbouring homes.

Not only could this initiative help Scotland achieve its target of reducing emissions to net-zero by 2045, but the report also stated that these systems could make parks profitable for councils or community owners.

It sounds like our parks and green spaces could have fantastic green energy potential.

If Scotland's target to reduce emissions to net-zero by 2045 is going to be met gas boilers in most homes will need to be replaced with a greener method.

The Scottish Government has also enlisted the help of farmers to help protect our environment.

A share of £34million in funding has been awarded to 472 farmers and crofters to help them protect the environment and mitigate the impact of climate change.

The sum will be used by farming businesses to improve water quality, manage flood risks, protect natural habitats and promote biodiversity.

I concluded my thoughts on greener businesses last month by talking about actions counting rather than the motivations behind consumers and businesses becoming more eco-conscious.

A month on and there’s some great examples of actions that can be taken to try to repair the damage to our environment.

 

Laugh

Wild deer have long been a source of fascination to visitors of Glencoe – but recently some tourists have been taking the biscuit.

I heard the STAGgering news last week that a deer went on the rampage after a tourist tried to feed it chocolate digestives.

The bumbling visitor waved a packet of the sweet snacks at a wild stag with hopes of enticing it closer. And indeed it worked – the action caused the creature to charge.

Nearby Kingshouse Hotel have since issued a warning to tourists, asking them not to feed the animals biscuits, sweets, crisps or any other processed foods.

It was also claimed that one drunken reveller was spotted offering a stag whisky while on a camping trip. Deer, oh deer.

Weep

We were hit by a string of bad news in the finance sector last week, compounded by reports that Virgin Money were axing 500 jobs and 22 branches.

Six Clydesdale Bank branches will be lost in the move. Virgin Money have said they will consolidate 30 branches where the group’s different brands were located in close proximity. The sad news means that 215 jobs will be lost from Virgin Money’s branches, with the rest at its main offices in Glasgow, Newcastle and Leeds.

Meanwhile, it was announced earlier in the week that Lloyds Banking Group would shed 780 jobs and insurer Direct Line 800. HSBC also said it would be closing 27 of its UK sites. I understand that businesses have to make changes in order to stay financially viable. However, my heart goes out to all staff who will lose their jobs in the process.

Side

You meet some amazing people at the Scottish Property Awards but the true winners are the audience. I attended as a guest for the Bank of Scotland Trust and had the pleasure of meeting an amazing woman named Ann Leslie, Chief Executive at the LAR Housing Trust.

She told me all about LAR Housing Trust, a relatively new concept in the housing sector which has really taken off. LAR is a housing charity which charges mid-market rents to help those struggling to find suitable, good quality rented accommodation - particularly in Edinburgh, the Lothians and Glasgow.

The trust, which recently celebrated its fourth anniversary, was set up to help people who don’t qualify for social housing because they are employed and they can’t afford the increasingly expensive private rented sector.

In a remarkably short period of time, the trust – which charges mid-market rents - has worked with most of the major construction companies in Scotland, has a burgeoning reputation and has 30 sites around the country either completed, under construction or in planning.

This is a fantastic organisation which has made a massive difference to the lives of hundreds of Scottish people and I’m proud to see such vital steps being taken to get more people into suitable homes.

The great thing about LAR is that it aims to build communities with most properties occupied by people with local connections. Therefore, many have family members or friends living in the same developments or living nearby, creating a welcoming atmosphere for residents who instantly experience a sense of home.

I welcome the fantastic work being done by LAR as it provides an innovative approach to solving a pressing need in the housing sector.

 

 

 

 

Back to column listings

Recent News

News Archive