New statistics have revealed that VisitScotland has reduced its carbon emissions by 72% in the last decade, surpassing the Scottish Government’s new 2020 target to reduce carbon emissions by 56% from 2008/9.
Released for Climate Week 2019, the statistics also show VisitScotland recycled 57% of its waste in 2018/19 and decreased the waste it sends to landfill by 18%. This means the national tourism organisation is on track to achieve the Scottish Government’s 2025 recycling rate target of 70%.
Transport related carbon emissions have been reduced by 43% in the last ten years, in large part due to a reduction in emissions from car usage. VisitScotland also revealed 87% of its properties are Green Tourism certified with 35% of achieving a gold award and 65% achieving a silver award.
The Green Tourism certification programme recognises the commitment of tourism businesses and organisations which are actively working to become more sustainable.
The data was gathered from the national tourism organisation’s annual sustainability report which will be released later this year. The report details the measures VisitScotland have taken to support its sustainability objectives and its ambition to make Scotland the most sustainable destination in Europe.
Running until Sunday 13 October, Climate Week 2019 is a Scottish Government initiative to encourage businesses, schools and universities to join organisations across the public sector in helping drive awareness and action to tackle climate change.
Lord Thurso, VisitScotland Chairman, said: ‘I am thrilled to see the progress we have made in supporting the Scottish Government’s aims to address climate change. While there is still a huge amount of work to be done, these results are very encouraging and I look forward to our continued work to grow Scottish tourism sustainably and transition to a low carbon society.
‘In line with the Scottish Government declaring a climate emergency and the 2019 Programme for Government, we are looking at the actions we can take as an organisation and industry leader to reduce the impact of tourism on climate change and also ensure that the growth in tourism does not negatively impact on the lives of communities, or the visitor experience.
‘Our industry engagement team works with businesses across the country to help them maximise their sustainable practices and ensure long-term success of tourism in Scotland.’
Andrea Nicholas, managing director Green Tourism, said: ‘We are very proud to be working with VS on greening their properties and their bold ambition to work towards every site achieving the highest accolade of a Gold Award.
‘It is great to see the National Tourism Agency leading by example and ensuring that sustainability and information on having a more responsible break is being promoted to visitors to Scotland.’
VisitScotland’s sustainability policy recognises that Scotland’s environment, society and culture are vital to the country’s tourism and sets out the measures taken by the national tourism organisation to protect and enhance them for future generations to enjoy. It aims to reduce the environmental impact and maximise the economic and social benefits of its own operations, while influencing and supporting third parties such as strategic partners, businesses and visitors.
In Spring 2019, Scotland was one of the first countries to declare a climate emergency and in Autumn 2019 the Scottish Parliament passed the Climate Change (Emission Reduction Targets) 2019 Bill setting a new target of net- zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, which is one of the most stringent legislative targets anywhere in the world.
A number of Sustainable Tourism resources are offered by VisitScotland and can be accessed on www.visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/quality-customer-experience/sustainable-tourism
For more information about Climate Week 2019, go to www.gov.scot/news/scotlands-climate-week-2019/
To learn more about VisitScotland’s sustainability policy go to www.visitscotland.org/about-us/our-policies/sustainability