The welcome impact of Scotland’s tourism sector on sustainable business

Press release   •   Mar 29, 2018 12:12 BST

Sustainable tourism business in Scotland has saved 1 million tonnes of water and ¼ million tonnes of carbon according to an impacts report published by the sustainable accreditation organisation, Green Tourism.

The report, entitled “20 years of making a difference”, addresses the positive impact Green Tourism accredited businesses have had on the environment over a period of twenty years. It was released today at a Scottish Tourism Alliance reception at the Scottish Parliament attended by Fiona Hyslop MSP.

Green Tourism sustainability assessments undertaken by the organisation 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 last year (2017), with 25 million visitors choosing sustainable destinations, attractions and venues in 2016.

Furthermore, a staggering 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, added: “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.”


Notes to Editors

Green Tourism

Founded in Scotland 20 years ago originally in partnership with Visit Scotland – Green Tourism is considered one of the most rigorous certification programmes of its kind, endorsed by VisitScotland, VisitEngland, VisitWales, Tourism Northern Ireland and Fáilte Ireland, and providing a service to 2,500 business members across the British Isles, Italy, Canada and Zimbabwe.

Green Tourism’s co-founders, Jon Proctor and Andrea Nicholas designed the programme to encourage the sector to embrace green issues.

The following are a small number of examples of the outcomes of the assessments:

  • 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).


  • Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
  • The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
  • This will be supported by five overarching strategies: Marketing, Events, Quality and Sustainability, Inclusive Tourism, International Engagement.
  • The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
  • Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP
  • For VisitScotland’s press releases go to, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to
  • Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
  • For holiday information on Scotland go to
  • For information about business tourism in Scotland go to

2018 Year of Young People

  • The Year of Young People 2018 will be the next of the Scottish Government’s series of themed years, following the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017.
  • The Year of Young People (YoYP 2018) will inspire Scotland through its young people aged 8 to 26, celebrating their achievements, valuing their contributions to communities and creating new opportunities for them to shine locally, nationally and globally
  • Central to YoYP 2018 will be a celebratory events programme that puts young people at the heart of its development and delivery, creating new and valuable experiences for young Scots and the wider public, with links to the inaugural 2018 European Championships.
  • Over 200 young people throughout Scotland are currently being recruited to become YoYP 2018 Ambassadors. Ambassadors will ensure that people and organisations in their communities know about what’s happening and will lead on projects and activities to create events and opportunities to celebrate young people.
  • The Year of Young People will have six themes which were developed in co-production with young people themselves:
  • oParticipation – looking at how young people can influence public services and decisions which affect their lives
  • oEducation – creating a stronger role for young people in shaping their learning
  • oHealth and Wellbeing – supporting young people to lead healthier, active lives and have opportunities to learn about and improve their mental health and resilience
  • oEquality and Discrimination – broadcasting the value of young Scots, challenging negative perceptions of young people, and supporting young people to take leading roles in challenging discrimination in all its forms.
  • oEnterprise and regeneration – celebrating young people’s role in innovation, entrepreneurship and the Scottish economy as well as making Scotland a greener and more pleasant place to live
  • oCulture – celebrating young people’s talent and contribution to Scottish culture and arts.
  • Further information on what’s happening and how people can get involved can be found on the new website or @YOYP2018 on Twitter.