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Highland tourism businesses offered help to set up climate action plans

By Neil MacPhail

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The Skye Bridge and Isle of Skye from Kyle of Lochalsh.
The Skye Bridge and Isle of Skye from Kyle of Lochalsh.

Tourism businesses across in the north are being helped to consider how they can tackle climate change and meet consumer needs by having a climate action plan.

With visitors becoming increasingly aware of their impact on the world around them, VisitScotland is launching a series of new online resources to help these businesses form these important plans.

It comes as research by the national tourism organisation found that 75 per cent of businesses were aware of the Scottish Government’s 2045 net zero target, and a third have already created an action plan or strategy to reach this goal.

Hosted on VisitScotland.org, the climate action planning guide includes practical step-by-step advice for businesses on how to create and manage a climate action plan.

It was created in partnership with Green Tourism and The Edinburgh Climate Change Institute, as part of the Destination Net Zero programme.

The new online resource includes dedicated advice on identifying carbon emissions; measuring business carbon emissions; reducing carbon emissions; adapting to climate change; supporting nature-based solutions to climate change, and communicating and collaborating on climate change.

A climate action plan has become a recognisable tool for understanding how the transition to low carbon will affect businesses, communities, and the environment.

It sets out implementable actions that can help increase efficiency to reduce costs and build resilience.

The new resource also aims to help tourism businesses cater for visitors who are keen to make more responsible travel choices. Research by Booking.com found that more than 70 per cent of travellers want to try in the next year to travel more sustainably.

Some 78% intend to stay in sustainable accommodation, demonstrating an opportunity for tourism businesses to cater for a growing market of environmentally conscious consumers.

Small Business, Innovation and Trade Minister Richard Lochhead said: “Scotland is blessed with natural beauty, vibrant cities, rich historical sites, white sand beaches and rolling hills, and it is these natural and cultural assets that draw visitors from near and far.

“In order to protect and preserve these assets, many of Scotland’s tourism businesses and organisations are leading the way on taking decisive action to mitigate the impact tourism has on climate change.

“The climate action planning guide will play an important role in helping support Scotland’s tourism sector transition to a low carbon future through globally recognised leadership in responsible, sustainable managed growth in accordance with Scotland Outlook 2030, Scotland’s national tourism strategy.”

Rob Dickson, VisitScotland’s director of industry and destination development, said: “It’s hugely encouraging and inspiring to hear that so many businesses are already taking action to address the threat of climate change.

“With this comprehensive new guide we want to help as many people as possible across our valuable tourism and events industry take that crucial next step on their journey to net zero. A climate plan allows businesses to understand their emissions and then take the appropriate action to reduce them.

“Not only will this action help reach the Scottish Government’s net zero target, for a business it will also help them meet the needs of their guests and in some situations reduce costs.

"By working together, we can create a long lasting sustainable tourism destination, which will protect the environment and benefit visitor and residents alike.”

Andrea Nicholas, Green Tourism chief executive, added: “With more than 1000 members in Scotland, we are proud to partner with VisitScotland and ECCI to develop this practical and user-friendly guide to help businesses to manage the challenges and maximise the opportunities presented by the transition to low carbon and meeting the target of net zero emissions by 2045.

“The modular design of the guide with downloadable templates, checklists, and way to calculate emissions, provides businesses with all the tools they need to develop a climate action plan in their own time and including aspects that are relevant to their specific resources, operations, and reporting requirements.

“This is so important for the future sustainability of the tourism industry, the people and places of Scotland and ultimately our planet."

To find out more about the climate action planning guide, visit:


Destination Net Zero is a Scottish Government tourism recovery funded project, delivered by Scottish Enterprise, VisitScotland, HIE and SoSE and partners and aims to support tourism businesses and destinations as they transition to a greener, more sustainable future.

Case Study.

One business with a climate action plan is The Skye Inn in Portree. This involved measuring emissions, reducing them, and in 2022 used carbon offsetting to achieve carbon neutral.

Claire Christie, operations manager at The Skye Inn, said: “We understand the need for climate action and as a company, we wanted to be part of the solution. Skye is famous for its landscapes and natural surroundings, and this is something we risk losing or damaging irreparably if we don’t take climate action.

“We started by measuring our emissions using a carbon calculator before looking at how we could reduce these emissions through our operations. This included looking at our waste, investing in energy efficient lighting and eco mechanisms to reduce water and working closely with local suppliers and produce.

“As well as looking at our own operations we also have been taking steps to give back to the community. This has included creating a voluntourism opportunity for visitors with the Sleat Community Trust.

"So not only do our visitors get to enjoy time in Sleat they are helping create a new site that will hopefully alleviate the pressure on some of Skye’s busiest locations. We also allow our staff to take two volunteering days which has recently saw them planting native trees.

“Our hope is that by working with visitors and our own staff we can inspire them to act and consider their own behaviour. If we all play our part, then we can start to take meaningful action against the very real threat of climate change.”

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