Column: Fife businesses embracing sustainable tourism

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As Scotland plays host to COP26, one of the largest international climate summits ever held in the UK, it brings focus to Fife’s own environmental position.

Some of the world’s most prominent leaders are coming together to agree actions to tackle one of the biggest threats facing humanity, climate change.

It may seem strange that an organisation who is committed to supporting local tourism would be so invested in the outcome of an event taking place miles away in Glasgow, but at VisitScotland, we know that environmental change is one of the biggest challenges facing our tourism and events sector and we all have a part to play.

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Scotland’s breath-taking scenery is the number one reason why people visit our shores. Visitors from every corner of the world have fallen in love with our world-famous views and natural assets. They are part of what make Scotland so special.

Caroline Warburton, VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director.Caroline Warburton, VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director.
Caroline Warburton, VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director.

And that is exactly why we need to take action against climate change today, to protect these assets for the visitors of tomorrow.    

The outcome of these talks will impact each and every one of us and will shape how we rebuild tourism sustainably following the COVID-19 pandemic.

VisitScotland is committed to working with the industry and communities to support a long-lasting sustainable tourism destination which can protect the environment and benefit visitors and residents alike. 

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The COVID-19 pandemic has already made people pause and think about the future environment, and their impact on it. 

Ardross Farm Shop (Pic: Walter Neilson)Ardross Farm Shop (Pic: Walter Neilson)
Ardross Farm Shop (Pic: Walter Neilson)

For VisitScotland and the wider tourism industry, it was a chance to reset and consider how we can build back responsibly, sustainably and safely. COP26 presents a unique opportunity to demonstrate the decisive action that Scotland’s tourism industry is taking to secure its future prosperity in the face of a growing climate crisis.  

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As the world’s eyes focus on Scotland, VisitScotland is stepping up its commitment.

Along with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation and other industry leaders, we have helped to draft the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism. This includes a promise to cut emissions and reach net zero as soon as possible. We are already working towards meeting the Scottish Government’s ambitious target of reducing emissions by 75 per cent by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2045.

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Fife Coastal Path - one of the jewels of the KingdomFife Coastal Path - one of the jewels of the Kingdom
Fife Coastal Path - one of the jewels of the Kingdom

Across Fife, more and more businesses are looking at what they can do to embrace responsible and sustainable tourism.    

Ardross Farm Shop in Elie is a great draw for environment conscious foodies with its food miles as little as metres on some products.

They strive for sustainability throughout the farm and retail business. Seasonal vegetables sold in the shop merely move from the field next door to the shop floor and beef is reared and butchered locally.

Sustainability isn’t a niche trend; it is a fundamental part of our country’s fantastic tourism offer as we encourage visitors to consider the impact their visit has on the environment.  

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In Scotland, almost three quarter of residents agree that climate change is an immediate and urgent problem so there is a real opportunity for businesses to highlight how they are playing their part.

And that’s where VisitScotland can help. As well as working with businesses, we are making it easier for visitors to tread lightly when visiting Scotland by sharing ideas and inspiration on our website, via social media and through our marketing, highlighting the best of Scotland’s green tourism experiences.

By making sustainable travel choices we can all help protect our landscapes while at the same time boost the local economy, culture and diversity of the areas we visit.

We face many challenges with the climate emergency and VisitScotland is part of the solution.     

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We are committed to working with tourism and events businesses and communities to ensure sustainability is at the heart of their offers. 

And as we market our country to visitors, we will make sure we inspire them to enjoy our country in a way that preserves and protects all the things that make Scotland so special.    

Tourism is a force for good, creating economic and social value in every corner of Scotland and enhancing the wellbeing of everyone who experiences it.    

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Fife Free Press.