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Scotland, Yours to enjoy. Responsibly.
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Sustainable & Responsible Tourism in Scotland

Responsible travel and tourism can mean lots of different things to different people. But what we all definitely share is a desire to keep Scotland as beautiful as ever, for now and for future generations.

Read on to find out about what responsible travel means to Scotland and how you can plan and enjoy a responsible trip, give back to local communities, look after Scotland's landscapes, and make lasting eco-friendly choices. And lucky for you, you won't miss out on anything in the process!

What is sustainable or responsible tourism?

Sustainable tourism is a way of holidaying to different parts of the world in an eco, green and environmentally friendly way.

Responsible tourism is about considering the wider impact your trip could have on the country you're visiting, and the world.

Responsible travel and tourism is important regardless of which country you decide to visit.

Travelling responsibly can help:

  • protect the landscape
  • boost the local economy
  • create more money for funding new and innovative projects

Your holiday in Scotland can have a positive impact on the landscapes and communities, just through a few simple choices. There are also ways you can offset your travel, and make your trip more sustainable and eco-conscious.

How Do I Take a Responsible Tourism Holiday?

When you're planning your holiday...

1. Choosing a destination

Consider where you want to go and when.

Scotland is home to many iconic and famous landmarks and locations, which feature at the top of many wishlists. If you want to visit these places, consider travelling outwith any peak summer months.
If you are travelling during summer, why not consider visiting some lesser-known places this time? We've got plenty of ideas and suggestions for places off the beaten track which will give you an amazing experience just the same.

Here are some new things to try:

2. Deciding how long to stay for

There are many benefits to staying longer - you can enjoy more of Scotland, but you can also take your time, savour the experiences, and be more flexible with your plans. Having extra time means you can choose to come back again on a quieter day, or have that extra travel time to go further.

Slow travel is a more meaningful way of travelling about forming connections with a place, taking your time and savouring the moments along the way - the journey, the destination and the people.

3. How you'll travel around

Transport is a big way to be a more sustainable traveller, if you can find a way to leave the car at home and use public transport. It emits less pollution than if we all travelled around in our own cars or vehicles.

Scotland's public transport options are great for travelling around the country, even to our most remote locations. Our public transport is abundant and accessible, with budget friendly options so you can save the spending for the real holiday. From electric cars, frequent train services, buses, coaches and even a variety of cycle paths, you'll have plenty of sustainable travel options available.

Find out more on travelling by:

4. Where you'll stay

Consider the accommodation you stay in. Maybe you'd prefer a back to nature break?  Snuggle into an eco-friendly glamping pod, or enjoy the outdoors with a camping break, both are great ways to explore sustainable accommodation options in Scotland. Another way would be to stay at local B&Bs or family-run cottages and lodges.

5. Things to do on holiday

Joining in an educational outdoor activity, such as bushcraft where you can learn all about surviving and thriving in the natural environment. Explore more eco-friendly places to visit.

Once you're on holiday, keep an eye out for our accredited Green Tourism businesses. These companies and operators have gone out their way to make their business more sustainable and eco-friendly by reducing their carbon footprint - and even have an award to show for it!

6. Support local communities

A way you can help give back to local and rural communities is by shopping and supporting local. This is an important part of being sustainable as it allows small, rural businesses to flourish, it brings money back into the community, and it gives you a chance to get involved with Scottish communities, learning about their enticing history and culture along the way.

You don't just have to stay in accommodation in these areas to help out. If you're passing through or stopping off on a day trip, popping into local shops, going out for a meal, or buying local crafts and gifts are great ways you can help support these communities. They thrive off sharing their talent, so your visit means a lot to them!

7. Respect the landscape

You should always be respectful of the areas and landscapes you are visiting. Thanks to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code you can explore off-path, but if you are visiting somewhere that is particularly vulnerable to damage, it might be sensible to try and stick to paths and tracks where available.

If you are heading out into Scotland's landscapes, it's also important to be safe, equipped and organised. Although our scenery is stunning, Scotland's outdoors are often wild and rural too, so if you're not prepared with the correct clothing and equipment, it can become dangerous.

It's a good idea to read up on the Scottish Outdoor Access Code before you head out. You can find out more about equipment and essential items to bring with you to stay safe outdoors - whether you are conquering a Munro, wild swimming or just exploring Scotland's nature.

Whilst you're outdoors, it is also crucial that you do not disturb the surrounding landscapes as many areas are home to wildlife habitats and rare or protected plantlife species.

  • Avoid tampering with sticks and don't break branches off of trees.
  • Don't lift stones from the ground and place elsewhere.
  • Avoid building fires as these can easily get out of control and damage the landscape.

8. Leave only footprints

Scotland offers the perfect playground for walks, hikes, city strolls, woodland wanders and more. Most of our parks and gardens are open all year round, and are free to enter too! As our landscapes are popular destinations for locals and visitors alike, it's important to take care of them so their natural beauty and habitats last for centuries to come.

Wherever you go, please be considerate of what's around you and respect any signage or information - they're there for a reason! Please remember to:

  • Not leave anything behind. Pick up litter; take it home with you or dispose of correctly
  • Clean up after your dog
  • Do not start fires or disturb natural flora, fauna or animal habitats
  • Do not disturb farm animals and keep your dog on a leash around farmland
  • Always plan ahead. Even if you're just popping out for a day trip, check where you're going is open, know where you can park (and have a plan B), and research toilets and facilities.
  • Book before you go. You need to book accommodation, attractions, tours and places to eat in advance.

Remember: leave no trace, only footprints, and take only memories.

Are there any dedicated conservation holidays where I can contribute positively to Scotland?

As well as making a general holiday more responsible, you can also choose to dedicate your time to looking after Scotland and learning more about responsibility. If you're looking to go that little bit further, embark on a conservation or volunteering holiday where you can learn all about Scotland's landscapes, what you can do to help restore and protect them, and give back to communities in the process, all through eco-friendly tourism activities.

Conservation holidays and voluntourism is a new travelling trend of holidaying in Scotland whilst doing some good for the landscape around you. It's an interactive and positive way to off-set your carbon footprint and make a lasting impact to the Scottish environment.