Green tourism in Scotland saves one million tonnes of water

Sustainable tourism in Scotland is saving tonnes of carbon and water

Sustainable tourism in Scotland is saving tonnes of carbon and water

A report from Green Tourism has revealed that sustainable tourism business in Scotland has saved 1 million tonnes of water and ¼ million tonnes of carbon over the past 20 years.

The report, entitled "20 years of making a difference," addresses the positive impact Green Tourism accredited businesses have had on the environment.

Green Tourism sustainability assessments 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 in 2017, with 25 million visitors choosing sustainable destinations, attractions and venues in 2016.

Furthermore, 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, said, "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."

Impacts from the assessment include:

  • Over £5 million in energy costs - by saving ¼ million tonnes of carbon dioxide (since 2010 when baselines for carbon emissions were established). We can estimate its value based on present energy costs.
  • Over £3 million in water costs saved. The saving in water emanates from reduced shower flow rates (i.e. from over 12 litres to 8 litres per minute) and it amounts to over 1 million tonnes over 10 years (costs calculated based on a conservative £3 per cubic metre) The average energy demand per bed night for serviced accommodation in Scotland has fallen to 18 kg CO2/bed night in 2015/16 from 26 kg in 2010 (31% reduction over 5 years). 
  • 20 megawatt renewable energy production, based on the actual KW of renewable energy in members' 2017 audits. This is a combination of all carbon neutral fuels and renewable energy from biomass, wind turbines, micro hydro and solar PV. It does not include solar thermal and heat pumps.
  • 81 properties from a membership of 156 self-catering sites in Scotland have a local suppliers' welcome hamper, which showcases local and artisan food and drink suppliers.
  • 187 green businesses are part of a local food initiative (e.g. LA, Scotland's Taste Our Best and other accreditations).
  • 50% of businesses are closing the loop in paper (supporting the circular economy) - 349 businesses have closed the loop in recycling and buying significant volumes or recycled paper (recycled e.g. copier and toilet paper).

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