My Column

Green for go in our travel and tourism

  • Date: Monday 5th April 2021
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Once again we are on the precipice of returning to normality as lockdown restrictions are slowly eased, and Scottish families are optimistically putting the foundations in place for their travel plans over the summer.  

 

As per the guidance of the Scottish government, being able to meet people outdoors is just the beginning, however with plenty of us looking to venture further afield over the next few months, the move will hopefully provide plenty of opportunities for Scottish tourism businesses to recover slowly, but surely.

 

Still, with so many unknowns regarding the timeline for easing out of lockdown, where and how far we can travel is still something that we need to take into account, with staycations the likely big trend for 2021.

 

As I mentioned a few months ago, I feel that this lockdown could be a prime opportunity for us to reinvent the wheels in which we travel into something much more sustainable - an ideal proposition for a nation set to host the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow later this year.

 

With some of the nation’s busiest visitor attractions, such as Edinburgh Castle and a whole number of National Trust for Scotland sites, all set to reopen this month, and a ‘staycation boom’ on the horizon - travel and tourism organisations are borderline giddy with excitement on potentially kick-starting their businesses once again.

 

VisitScotland have been spear-heading a green ideology calling for ‘responsible tourism’ as part of a £124,000 campaign, calling on any travellers visiting beautiful parts of the country to ensure they respect and protect the environment. 

 

This investment is hopefully going to help keep the surge of lockdown crowds from costing local communities, particular in more remote parts of Scotland, from needing to spend even more money simply cleaning up after someone else’s mess.

 

Tourism bodies aren’t the only groups looking to enter a new green age of post-lockdown life. Some of the big names behind Scotland’s transport industry have also been investing in more sustainable technology, with electric buses being the top of wish lists due to partly-funded projects with the Scottish Government to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.


Perth-based transport giant Stagecoach have taken the initiative ordering around 46 new electric buses to communities around Aberdeen, Perth and the Ayrshire coast. Each of these buses is set to be created by Falkirk manufacturer Alexander Dennis and battery specialist BYD UK.

 

Smaller operators such as McGills are also taking this innovative approach by investing a colossal £15 million into a series of all-electric buses, bringing its total to 68 green coaches in total. The Greenock based bus operator has also ordered a revamp of their Renfrewshire depot infrastructure to create a number of electrical charging points for their new planet-friendly fleet.


The group has ambitiously claimed that all of the new all-electric buses should be delivered ahead of the aforementioned COP26 climate conference in Glasgow. Chief Executive of McGills, Ralph Roberts has said the investment in the new vehicles will ‘bring a significant reduction in CO2 emissions, at over 2 billion grams ever year’. It goes to show that even during an admittedly challenging time for the travel and transport industry, investing into a brighter future may be the best one to make.


Although a lot of the above is certainly good news and solid investments from the industry, the road to recovery post-lockdown won’t be without a few turbulent take offs especially for the airline industry.

 

This past week, Scottish regional airline business Loganair revealed they’ve seen a loss of £12.7 million, attributable to the pandemic and their plans to phase out older aircraft for new next-generation planes, which improve capacity and lower environmental emissions.

 

However, a new more ‘rigorous focus on costs’ as the company says, means they’re expecting these losses to significantly narrow over the next few months. I imagine the staycation craze may also benefit Loganair as more holidaymakers across the UK consider Scotland for a family trip this year.

 

So as we all get excited to venture beyond our homes once again for a summer of staycations, it’s good to see that the sun is certainly still shining on attitudes towards investing in a more sustainable and innovative future for Scotland’s travel, transport and tourism industry. 

 

Sidebar 296

Many businesses are using key learnings from the past year to implement positive changes in their working practices, rather than simply reverting back to old ways once lockdown is over.

Recent research from The Reward and Benefits Association (REBA) revealed that 91 per cent of businesses agree employee expectations of their work experiences are changing, so it’s important as business owners and employers that we recognise this and respond.

This same study showed 68 per cent of employers have introduced at least one new benefit to support employees’ mental and emotional health over the last 12 months as they adjust to new ways of working, which is really reassuring.

Employee incentives have always been used by recruiters, but a cycle to work scheme or travel expenses cover has been invalid for much of this year, and with the likelihood of future flexible working high on the agenda, this pot could be redirected into something more useful to attract and retain staff.

Mental health and wellbeing has become much more of a priority in recent years for employers to take action on, and an employee assistance programme could prove a crucial and worthwhile investment for many businesses.

These schemes can help with counselling, expert impartial advice or even financial support, which can prove to be a lifeline. Subscribing to such schemes reflects well on a company’s culture too and can boost morale across the board.

We shouldn’t undervalue the importance of employee recognition and ensuring a team or individual feels valued and appreciated, so employee recognition platforms may also become much more popular as we move forward.

Positive job satisfaction, engagement, morale, work-life balance and mental wellbeing are all linked to successful businesses, so all of these work practices shouldn’t be ignored when planning for the future.

Laugh 134

It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve heard of a binge-worthy TV show impacting on consumer trends, such as chess sets for Christmas linked to The Queens Gambit, but surely Tiger King didn’t encourage us to become a nation of exotic animal owners?

A new study by wildlife charity Born Free has uncovered that nearly 4,000 dangerous wild animals are being privately kept in Great Britain – 255 of them in Scotland, and this only accounts for those with a licence. We’re talking about wild cats, scorpions, crocodiles, venomous snakes and more.

I’ve read my fair share of stories about animals on the loose in local communities, so here’s hoping we don’t see an increase in these cases and instead we stick to enjoying these animals through our TV screens or at the zoo and safari parks. 

Weep 131

I’m all for entrepreneurial spirit, but it seems an increasing number of people are crossing boundaries and using online bots to buy and sell in-demand items – also known as scalpers – and it could soon become illegal.

There was a crackdown on scalping in 2018 when, thanks to support from big names in the music industry, it became illegal to use these bots to mass buy and resell gig tickets at a profit.

Now with the interest moving to games consoles and designer trainers, lockdown became the perfect environment for scalpers, and politicians are calling for a new law to ban such activity.

Sometimes business isn’t fair, and reselling popular items for profit is the nature of the game, but there’s a moral argument that using bots is a step too far.

 

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