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

Responsible travel and tourism means lots of different things to different people. Read on to find out about what responsible travel means to Scotland, and how you can plan and enjoy a responsible trip.

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What is Responsible Travel?

Responsible travel and tourism is important whichever country you decide to visit. It protects the landscape and boosts the local economy, culture and diversity of the area you visit, which in turn keeps the landscape natural and beautiful for other people to enjoy in the future.

Sustainable tourism is a way of holidaying to different parts of the world in an eco and environmentally friendly way. Green and sustainable tourism is about considering the impact your trip could have on the country you're visiting, and the world. This could be in terms of

  • through your mode of transport
  • the accommodation you stay in
  • the food you eat
  • the activities you do in the area
  • the communities you interact with.

How to travel responsibly and sustainably

Travelling sustainably is actually a lot easier than you may think. A variety of companies, businesses and brands across all industries are making concerted efforts to be more responsible and provide eco-friendly experiences for visitors. From electric cars, eco glamping pods and locally sourced fresh food, to reduced-emission vehicles and supporting family businesses, there are so many ways you get involved and travel responsibly in Scotland.

Read up on our 10 Simple Steps to Becoming an Eco Tourist.

Being an eco-friendly traveller doesn't mean you need to change your entire lifestyle right away. Even making small changes over time (which will be easier to stick to) and little things will help restore and preserve the environment for years to come. Help local businesses and give back to communities by shopping local, choose a less polluting form of transport such as cycling, and be respectful of the landscapes you visit by leaving no trace with no litter, waste, or fires.

Explore Scotland's wealth of Green Businesses who have been awarded Bronze, Silver or Gold for their efforts to be sustainable.

While You're Here…

Our landscapes, mountains, valleys, lochs, towns and cities are all iconic and simply magnificent to experience up close, so we definitely recommend getting out and exploring these magical gems whilst on a trip to Scotland.

Scotland offers the perfect playground for walks, hikes, city strolls, woodland wanders and much more. Most of our parks and gardens are open all year round and are free to enter too! As spring is just around the corner, the nights are getting lighter, the weather is getting warmer and the sun is shining for longer each day, so now is the perfect time add Scotland's mesmerising landscapes to your bucket list.

As our landscapes are beautiful and can be popular destinations for locals and visitors alike, they need to be taken care of so their natural beauty and habitats last for centuries to come, and for others to enjoy and visit too.

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

  • Pick up litter; take it home with you or dispose of correctly
  • Clean up after your dog
  • Do not start fires
  • Do not disturb farm animals and keep your dog on a leash around farmland
  • Do not disturb natural flora, fauna or animal habitats

Find out more about exploring the outdoors during Covid-19.

Responsible tourism during the Covid-19 pandemic

After the Covid-19 pandemic it's even more important that we be kind and look after all living things in Scotland - whether that's the people we travel with, those we meet along the way, small communities, farm animals, wildlife, city parks, forests, glens and beyond.

There are a few key things to consider in 2021:

  • 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 so Covid-19 regulations can be followed.
  • Don't leave anything behind. Use litter bins provided or take it back home with you to dispose of in recycling and waste bins.
  • Explore somewhere different. Many parts of Scotland are proving to be a popular choice, so why not head off your beaten track, and do something a bit different? This is a great time to explore the city you thought you knew, or the town just beyond yours.

Understanding the Environmental Impacts of Tourism

There are many positive and negative environmental factors of tourism. Unfortunately, some can cause damage to Scotland's beautiful landscapes, but others are there to help restore greenery and encourage the natural world to thrive. Pay a visit to one of Scotland's many National Nature Reserves which are protected areas of land where wildlife and plantlife can flourish. You can find these reserves all over Scotland, from Hermaness Nature Reserve in the northern corners of Shetland, and Staffa National Nature Reserve on the west coast, to the Isle of May reserve off the coast of Anstruther in Fife.

Or why not join in an educational outdoor activity on your trip to Scotland? Outdoor activities such as bushcraft are all about surviving and thriving in the natural environment, and using knowledge and skills that have been in existence for many thousands of years. Learn about specific plant species and why they grow in certain environments, how to tell the difference between species and how to identify them, how to forage safely, and much more.

Whilst you're out exploring all that Scotland has to offer, it is important to be respectful of the areas and landscapes you are visiting. Popular destinations will naturally see more visitors but this can cause harmful impact to the land. 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.

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.

Remember to read up on, and follow, the Scottish Outdoor Access Code before you explore Scotland.

Hams of Roe

Responsible tourism holidays in Scotland

There are many ways you can enjoy a sustainable and eco-friendly holiday in Scotland, without missing out on all the fun and adventure! Embark on a conservation holiday where you can learn all about Scotland's landscapes and what you can do to help restore and protect them through eco-friendly tourism activities.

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, rather than big chain hotels.

Transport is a big way to be a more sustainable traveller too. Public transport emits less pollution than if we all travelled around in our own cars or vehicles. Scotland's public transport options are great for scooting around the country, even to our most remote locations. From efficient trains and frequent bus and coach services, to ferries and electric car hire options, there are more sustainable ways to travel than you think.