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Green & Sustainable Businesses In Scotland

Learn about green and sustainable businesses in Scotland - find out what they are doing to be eco-friendly, and find attractions, accommodation and places to eat for your trip.

The  Green Tourism scheme helps businesses reduce their environmental impact by caring for people, places and our planet. They assess over 70 things including carbon, waste, biodiversity, local produce, ethical purchasing and equality.

The scheme works across all types of business from accommodation to attractions, activities to tours.

Galloway Gin Escape at Crafty Distillery Newton Stewart

green tourism scheme scotland

Crafty Distillery

Crafty Distillery’s award-winning Hill & Harbour Gin gets its delicious taste from wild growing botanicals harvested by hand from the Galloway countryside. Create your own inventive cocktails and receive an in-depth tour of the distillery.

  • Accessible Parking Or Drop-off Point
  • Level Access
  • Accessible toilets

Eden Mill Distillery St Andrews

green tourism scheme scotland

Eden Mill new distillery

Order a glass of delicious gin or a dram from Scotland's first carbon-neutral distillery. Eden Mill's striking bottles are deliberately sized to reduce waste turnover and use nearly 20% less glass than the average drinks brand.

Mharsanta Glasgow

green tourism scheme scotland

This restaurant works closely with local food and drink suppliers including Macsween Haggis, Graham's Dairy and The Fish People. They have also switched their takeaway orders to smarter packaging, made from extractions of juice and sugarcane.

  • Level access to dining room, cafe or restaurant
  • Vegetarian/Vegan

Loch Arthur Farm Shop and Café Dumfries

green tourism scheme scotland

Our Delightful Cafe

Loch Arthur is part of a working community that looks after people with learning disabilities, many of whom work in the bustling café and shop. Everything served and on display is made using the finest organic ingredients, grown and reared on the farm, or sourced locally.

Dawyck Botanic Garden Peebles

green tourism scheme scotland

Dawyck Botanic Garden

Learn about the importance and conservation of plant life on a tour of the UK's first carbon neutral botanic garden. Powered by hydro-electric energy generated from a nearby burn, the sleek building also has a heat conserving 'green roof' which retains the warmth provided by its biomass boiler.

  • On Public Transport Route
  • Hearing Loop
  • Cafe or Restaurant

Inveraray Castle Argyll

green tourism scheme scotland

A view of the Castle from the South-West.

This romantic 18th century castle has a forward-thinking approach to sustainability. They provide a visitor charter for guests, to help you explore, shop and follow the Outdoor Access Code while visiting the area. Argyll Estates also boasts its own windfarm and biomass heating system.

The National Museum of Rural Life East Kilbride

green tourism scheme scotland

Clydesdale horse with stockperson at the National Museum of Rural Life © Ruth Armstrong Photography

© © Ruth Armstrong Photography

See how this living history museum is looking to the future by partnering with Plan Bee to cultivate the local honeybee population, which ensures the vital pollination of farm crops with hives and the site's wildflower meadow. In the summer months, witness the colourful array of fragrant flower species which have been replanted to support the growth of bees and other essential insects.

JP Orkney Orkney

green tourism scheme scotland

A JP Orkney camper seen here in an evening spot.

© JP Orkney / VisitScotland

This tour company based in Orkney is the only business of its kind to offer tours in a fully electric van, which also doubles as a campervan. Enjoy a drive around the magnificent islands free of carbon emissions in the Nissan E-NV200.

Argyll Walking Holidays Strachur

green tourism scheme scotland

Walking along Loch Coruisk on the Isle of Skye during our guided Scottish Highlands & Isle of Skye luxury walking tour

© About Argyll Walking Holidays

This walking tour company is passionate about letting people access some of Scotland's most wild and remote places. To reduce the impact of their minibuses, they donate to Trees for Life which works towards restoring the ancient Caledonian forest of the Highlands.

Scotland's UNESCO Trail Various locations across Scotland

green tourism scheme scotland

Beinn Eighe Mountain Trail

© VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

Our new UNESCO Trail brings together 13 designations across Scotland from the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere to the Shetland Global Geopark. The trail highlights sustainable businesses helping you to have an eco-friendly trip.

Burmieston Steading Perthshire

green tourism scheme scotland

© Simon Jauncey

The Burmieston Farm's passion for sustainability goes beyond its buildings. It uses recycled plastic and sheep's wool for insulation and biomass and solar energy systems. The rooms are beautifully furnished with antiques and 'upcycled' furniture, while outside boxes for bats, owls and hedgehogs help support the wildlife.

  • Pets Welcome
  • Wet room or level entry shower

Lochranza Campsite Arran

green tourism scheme scotland

Lochranza Campsite

Set in a spacious clearing surrounded by dramatic glens, Lochranza is one of the most picturesque spots in Scotland to pitch a tent. You can also stay in one of the insulated pods. It has a 100% green energy tariff, and has taken steps to boost the biodiversity of the area so that it's teeming with red deer, birds, wildflowers, bees and red squirrels.

Pentland Ferries Orkney

green tourism scheme scotland

Image of MV Alfred

If you're heading to Orkney, hop onboard Scotland's most green ferry - MV Alfred - which uses an incredible 65% less energy and emits 62% less CO2 than other Scottish vessels of its size and type. Watch as stunning coastal vistas and seascapes glide by while relaxing in the sleek interior illuminated with energy efficient LED lighting.

Outdoor Explore Blairgowrie

green tourism scheme scotland

kayaking in Scotland - Outdoor Explore

© Outdoor Explore

The most environmentally friendly way to cruise around Scotland is in a man-powered canoe or kayak. Be extra eco-aware on your next paddle with this kayak tour company and join their free of charge 'Litter Free Paddles' and help tidy up some of Perthshire's loveliest waterways.

Want to learn more about being a responsible traveller?

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How Scottish tourism is staying on track to a sustainable future

How Scottish tourism is staying on track to a sustainable future 

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The tourism industry is working withgovernment and communities to manage social and environmental impact

The Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism, launched at last year’s Cop26 conference, has inspired more than 500 travel-related businesses to sign up to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) initiative.

Set within the framework of the One Planet Sustainable Tourism Programme, its goal is to increase sustainable consumption and production in the sector, ultimately halving emissions by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2050.

Of particular significance is the focus on five pathways: measure, decarbonise, regenerate, collaborate and finance – all in a spirit of collaboration.

It’s a mission statement being heard loud and clear in Scotland, with the national tourist board VisitScotland in the vanguard for positive change.

“Sustainable tourism is about maximising the positive impacts of tourism, such as how it creates jobs, sustains communities and enriches our wellbeing, while minimising its negative impacts, including challenges such as over-tourism and emissions,” says Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland’s chief executive.

“The principle of responsible tourism is that we, the tourism and events industry, work with government, communities and visitors to manage that economic, social and environmental impact and respond together.”

According to Roughead, Scotland’s communities and natural and cultural heritage are central to the country’s attractiveness as a destination. He believes visitors are increasingly mindful of their impact on the world, socially and environmentally, which makes it imperative for the tourism industry to recognise that tackling climate change can not only reduce costs in the longterm and build resilience, but also help meet increasing consumer demand for responsible and sustainably focused businesses.

VisitScotland’s vision is for Scotland to develop as one of the world’s most economically, environmentally and socially sustainable destinations. There are, however, significant obstacles to overcome.

“The current crisis around the cost of living is a major challenge for tourism in the short term,” notes Roughead. “However, we’ve found behaviour change and affordability are among the main obstacles to overcome when looking at sustainable practices.

“Our own research shows there is a great deal of agreement on the importance of tackling climate change but limited willingness when it comes to changing future travel behaviours. Around two thirds of Scots say they’ll try to reduce energy consumption while on holiday, while less than a third feel green credentials are important when choosing accommodation.”

Roughead believes the industry needs to make it easier for visitors to choose more sustainable options, so this becomes the norm and isn’t something they must seek out. “The industry, we know, is aware of this and responsible tourism is a key focus. Our own research last year revealed this, with eight in ten businesses ensuring they operate as sustainably as possible, with seven in ten prioritising a reduction in their carbon footprint.”

VisitScotland has long been an advocate for regional and seasonal spread of visitors, promoting Scotland as a year-round destination and highlighting lesser-known destinations to ease pressure on ‘honey pot’ areas.

It manages the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund on behalf of the Scottish Government to improve the visitor experience in rural areas facing pressure on infrastructure or negative impacts due to rising visitor numbers. To date, £14.5 million has been awarded to 60 projects across Scotland, including Doune Castle, Glenfinnan Viaduct and parts of the Fife Coastal Path.

Through Destination Net Zero, a partnership programme between VisitScotland and Scotland’s Enterprise agencies, it is also engaging directly with the industry on transitioning to net zero.

Despite such initiatives, Roughead admits more can be done by tourism businesses.

“Our research shows attractions and activity providers are making progress on moves to become net zero but we must acknowledge there are barriers. For many it comes down to cost, the practical constraints to make changes to a property and the limitations of the business.

“Our sustainable fact sheets offer businesses advice and guidance to make changes that could bring both financial and environmental benefits down the line. Businesses can also consider joining a green scheme by organisations such as Green Tourism or Green Key.”

With challenges come opportunities and Roughead is personally optimistic the future of tourism in Scotland can be both successful and sustainable. “Absolutely! There’s no doubt tourism is going through one of the most challenging times in living memory, however the industry is resilient and there is a general acceptance we all have a duty of care to protect the natural, social and cultural assets so vital to Scotland’s brand and its future prosperity.

“There is a real opportunity now for both businesses and visitors. I firmly believe embracing responsible tourism and events makes our country a better place to live and visit. Scotland is recognised on the global stage as taking a leadership role on climate action in tourism and that means continuing to play a leading role in the development of Scotland as a globally recognised responsible destination.”

Four sectors making their mark

Going forrit.

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Dominic Ryan

Related posts, how glasgow can now be a shining example to the world , finance sector gearing up to play multi-billion pound role , on track for a greener future , rewilding can boost profits as well as biodiversity , energy crisis looms over new leader , making sustainable choices through your investments .

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Rural and Environment

Sustainable tourism.

September 19, 2020 by Fergus Ewing MSP No Comments | Category Environment

green tourism scheme scotland

Despite this, as we continue to navigate our way through this crisis and work towards recovery, the aim for our tourism industry to be world leading has not diminished.

Recovery will not be a short and easy task. At the forefront of our ambition is the aim that our recovery is as safe and strong as possible – ensuring the sustainability of jobs in the sector. Equally, we feel it is absolutely necessary that the rebuild is environmentally friendly.

We are in the process of transitioning to a net-zero emissions country – for the benefit of our environment, our people, and our prosperity. It must be said that to reach net-zero it is a collective responsibility of everyone in Scotland.

Whilst the majority of people support these aims we have seen some examples of poor behaviour and a lack of understanding of how to respect the environment this summer. We are working on a comprehensive range of policies and plans that will tackle ‘dirty camping’ and wider issues such as anti-social behaviour that has been shown by a small minority. We want everyone to be able to enjoy our beautiful country and for it to be as accessible as possible.

The strategy looks for us to grow the value and positively enhance the benefits of sustainable tourism across Scotland by delivering the very best for our visitors, our businesses, our people, our communities and our environment.

Scotland has some of the most wonderful scenery and landscapes in the world – and we know people come from far and wide to experience. Recent global estimates show that tourism is approximately responsible for eight percent of carbon emissions. It is therefore imperative that we reimagine a tourism sector that puts the environment at the top of our priorities.

Our strong commitment to reaching net-zero has helped us gain the respect globally for our ambition and leadership on climate change.

Sustainable tourism is also essential to our local communities – helping support local businesses whether that be restaurants, bars, museums, art galleries amongst others.

Arbroath Abbey is an excellent example of sustainable tourism in Scotland, the attraction site is a gold member of the Green Tourism Business Scheme – which assesses waste management, effectiveness of use of energy and biodiversity and procurement.

We have already committed £9 million to the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund – this will in turn help protect our treasured, vulnerable rural visitor sites by supporting sustainable developments.

One development that has benefited from the fund already is the Old Man of Storr on Skye. We granted almost £185,000 to enhance visitor access and help protect the iconic landscape.

Sustainable, inclusive growth is about increased value for all and whilst it won’t be as straightforward as we’d hope – we are determined to use our new tourism strategy as a force to deliver that growth.

Tags: climate week , environment , Scottish Government , tourism

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25 Tips For Sustainable Travel In Scotland

Categories Scotland , Scotland Guides , Sustainable Travel

25 Tips For Sustainable Travel In Scotland

Sustainable tourism in Scotland is a passion of mine. When I hiked the  Scottish National Trail  I fell head over heels for Scotland’s landscape and I made a promise to myself to protect it fiercely. 

Table of Contents

Now that tourism is reopening in Scotland [Hallelujah!], sustainable tourism is more important now than ever. Everyone is itching to travel around Scotland, and overtourism in Scotland is sure to make a return.

One of the most effective tips for protecting Scotland’s environment is not to travel here at all- however this isn’t realistic. I’d love for everyone to experience Scotland’s awe-inspiring landscapes, welcoming hospitality and have a dram with the lovely locals. It’s a tough one when the answer to a more sustainable planet is to travel less, when travel for many of us is our passion and reason for being. Especially after being cooped up for so long!

But there is good news: we lessen our impact on Scotland and still enjoy her bonnie hills, bustling cities and colourful coastline, IF you implement as many of these tips for sustainable travel in Scotland as possible.

Let’s make a vow to enjoy Scotland while helping to protect the environment and supporting local communities!

Want to know the most recent rules and travel restrictions in Scotland?  Read my Covid-19 guide   that is updated every week with the current information.

What is Sustainable Tourism? Sustainable essentially means travelling in a way that minimizes harm to the environment, local communities, and wildlife. To me, sustainable tourism is also about making an effort to leave a destination in a better way than you found it. My tips in this article will help you to achieve just that!

25 Sustainable Tourism in Scotland Tips

eco tourism in scotland the scottish highlands

1. Leave no trace

I’m starting with a fairly obvious one, but it needs to be said.

Scotland is generous when it comes to its freedom. Scotland has a ‘freedom to roam’ law in place which means everyone in Scotland has legal access to land and inland water throughout Scotland.

This is great for hikers and outdoor lovers in Scotland; you can walk and wild camp nearly anywhere. Most people may think they’re abiding by the ‘leave no trace’ principle, however many are not adhering to this law without realising it. If you’re hiking in Scotland in a popular area, stick to the existing paths. If you go off-piste, this can cause damage to the ecosystems that surround the trail.

However, if you’re hiking in a pristine area, such as in the north-west Highlands, disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and paths and avoid areas that are starting to suffer from impact.

2. Avoid tourist hotspots

I’ve written a blog post about  overtourism in Scotland ; the places to avoid and the places to go instead, so make sure you give that a read. The main places that suffer from overtourism is Edinburgh and the Isle of Skye. There are honestly SO many other places that are just as nice, if not better, so why not go  off the beaten path in Scotland  instead?

3. Visit in the shoulder or off-season

A more even spread of visitors reduces the pressure on Scotland’s environment, popular ancient attractions, and communities. Scotland is heaving with tourists during July and August, so  plan your trip to Scotland  between October and April once [international travel reopens] if you can. These are quiet times for small businesses who really need the cash flow. As a bonus- there are less tourists around and you’ll have a better opportunity to mingle with the locals!

SCOTLAND RESOURCES ✨ On a budget? Grab my Scotland Bucket List Planner ✨ Organising a big trip? Grab my Ultimate Scotland Planner ✨ Want to tick off all the must-sees? Grab my Must-See Scotland Essential Travel Planners ✨ Have a question about travelling around Scotland? Join my Facebook groups Scotland Travel Tips and Scotland Travel Tips for Locals ✨ Love podcasts? Listen to my Scotland podcast Life in Scotland ✨ Want more Scotland? Join my exclusive Scotland community Secrets of Scotland to unlock bonus content

>> Read more: My favourite autumn breaks in Scotland

snow on the scottish mountains

4. Reduce the number of flights you take where possible

If you’re flying to Scotland, try to book the most direct flight possible. Doing so generates fewer greenhouse gases per journey, as take-off and landing uses more fuel than when the plane is in the air. Also research  which airlines currently have the greenest policies  (research everything from the type of fuel they use to their on-board plastic policies).

5. Pack lightly when you fly

Finnair claims  it could save between 1-2 million kilograms of fuel per year if passengers packed their luggage 1 kilogram lighter every time they fly! The same goes for all airlines: pack lighter, travel more economically. 

Read More: 50 Travel Tips for Scotland

6. Bring these eco-friendly travel products with you

When   packing for a trip to Scotland  I always recommend bringing the following:

  • reusable straws  [with a cleaning pipe]
  • a  collapsible water bottle
  • collapsible coffee mug [for takeaway coffee/hot wine at the winter markets]
  • reusable bags  [or a good quality  hiking backpack ].

You’ll use less plastic, and save money on buying bags to carry your groceries and shopping [you have to purchase all carry bags in Scotland].

sustainable tourism in scotland travel mug

7. Stay in eco-friendly accommodation

Look for accommodation that utilises solar power, rainwater harvesting, energy-efficient lighting and serves meals made from locally sourced ingredients.

Some of my recommendations for eco stays include:

  • JustB City Retreat  in Edinburgh
  • The Lazy Duck Lodge  in Nethy Bridge
  • Eagle Brae  in Struy [Scottish Highlands]
  • Loch Ossian Youth Hostel  in Corrour [Rannoch Moor]

loch ossian youth hostel

8. Help out your hosts

Always make sure that when you’re not in your accommodation you turn the lights, heating and television off. If you’re staying in a hotel or bed and breakfast reuse your towels by hanging them up so the cleaners won’t take them away for washing. Leaving the ‘do not disturb’ hanger on your door also discourages cleaners, which will save on energy and usage of cleaning products. Let’s face it- your toilet doesn’t need to be cleaned every day!

9. Shop locally

Scotland has some truly wonderful local craft, clothing and book stores. Avoid chain retail stores on the high street and shop at independently owned stores or markets instead. You’ll pick up gifts that are unique and hand-made by local Scottish folk, which is SO much more special. Markets are also a popular place to pick up environmentally friendly products. Win-win.

10. Eat at eco-friendly restaurants

If you’re eating out, go to independent restaurants that source their ingredients locally. You can usually find restaurants that do this by doing a quick scan of their website. Most sustainable restaurants in Scotland will state on their website if they use organic and/or local ingredients. 

Consuming less meat and animal products will also benefit the environment. I’m not vegan, however I have been to some fantastic vegan restaurants in Scotland. To find vegan restaurants the  Happy Cow  website and app is fantastic. And if you’re eating out in Edinburgh, check out the blog  Vegan Edinburgh  for inspiration. 

Restaurants with yummy vegan options I personally recommend include:

  • Harmonium  in Leith, Edinburgh
  • Real Food Cafe  in Tyndrum [the vegan haggis tastes better than actual haggis!]
  • Black Isle Bar  in Inverness
  • Stacks Coffee House & Bistro  at John O’Groats
  • The Storehouse  in Dingwall

the storehouse in dingwall

11. Travel with eco-friendly tour companies

Do your research on eco-friendly tour companies and try to book tours with small, local businesses where possible.  Airbnb Experiences  is a good place to find locals who offer unique tours, including many walking and photography tours.  Rabbies  is an eco-conscious tour provider I recommend for single and multi-day small group tours.

12. Look for businesses that have Green Tourism certification

The Green Tourism scheme is an accreditation organisation in Scotland which hands out Bronze, Silver and Gold awards to businesses that are making an effort towards a more sustainable Scotland. Businesses that apply are assessed against a set of criteria, including energy and water usage, waste management, biodiversity, involvement in the community and more. You will know that businesses with these awards are doing their utmost for a sustainable Scotland- so book your tour, accommodation, lunch date etc with them! You can search for businesses in Scotland that have been  awarded a Green Tourism award  here .

13. Ask businesses in Scotland to limit their plastic use

If you do see a business in Scotland who appears to be using too much plastic, don’t be afraid to have a chat with whoever is in charge or leave a feedback card letting them know they could be doing things more economically. When leaving a Google review, politely suggest how they could be more eco-friendly. A lot of businesses are still catching on to eco-tourism, so why not give them a polite shove in the right direction?

14. Try to walk/cycle everywhere

Whenever the Haggis and I travel to a new city, we walk everywhere. It’s a great opportunity to discover local gems such as neighbourhoods, shops, cafes and pubs- and we have discovered many interesting places by travelling this way. Cities in Scotland such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth and Dundee are easily accessible on foot.

The Scottish Government has put a lot of funding into improving cycle routes in the country resulting in some fantastic cycle paths throughout Scotland . There are a few canal towpaths that connect cities and towns that you can easily walk or cycle. You can walk or cycle from Edinburgh to Glasgow [or vice versa] along the Union canal and the Forth & Clyde. You can also walk/cycle between Inverness and Corpach [near Fort William] along the Caledonian Canal.

15. Use public transport where possible

When you can’t walk or cycle, using public transport versus hiring a car is far better for the environment. Getting from Edinburgh to Glasgow [and vice versa] is super easy on the train, and the bus systems are great in these cities and throughout Scotland. I recommend riding the West Highland Line to see some of Scotland’s most spectacular terrain!

glenfinnan viaduct

16. Hire a hybrid or electric car

If you want to do a road trip around Scotland, hire a hybrid or electric vehicle. They use less fuel and produce fewer carbon emissions than your average car.  Avis  is one company that hires out electric and hybrid cars. You could also hire a private driver like Nicolas from  E-City Chauffeur  who offers tailor-made tours and experiences around Scotland in his Tesla.

17. Slow down

Reducing your transportation usage is another great way to look after the environment. It’s tempting to whip around Scotland to see and experience as much as possible, however, in my super honest opinion: Scotland is not a country you want to rush around. Take a breath, slow down and get to know the area you’re staying in. Choose quality time over the quantity of activities ticked off the bucket list.

18. Know your codes

Spending time outdoors? Check out the  Scottish Outdoor Access Code  before you head outside. Planning on spending a night in a bothy? Read up on the  Bothy Code  beforehand.

sustainable travel in scotland

19. Pick up rubbish when out walking

Campers and walkers leaving litter behind has esculated during lockdown with more and more people heading outside. When the Haggis and I go walking we always make an effort to pick up at least three pieces of litter we see lying on the ground. While it’s not our rubbish, it’s still our responsibility to protect our home. It’s actually turned into a fun game for us! Make sure you wear gloves and take a bag you can put the rubbish into. Just imagine how much cleaner Scotland would be if everyone picked up a few pieces of litter every time they went for a walk!

20. Pick up after yer dug!

For a while I was mystified at the amount of dog poop bags I would see on my daily walks and when out hiking. Why would people bother bagging it, just to leave it behind? Wouldn’t that slow down the degradation process? Is there a Scottish poo fairy that I didn’t know about?

Turns out some people are just lazy and will bag their doggy poo to come back for it later…or not at all. Don’t be that person- carry it with you and dispose of it correctly. I recommend purchasing a  dicky bag – a small machine washable bag you can place your bagged poo in that will contain the odour. Or at the very least, flick the poo into the undergrowth with a stick so it’s out of the way.

21. Avoid animal tourism unless you’re sure they’re ethical

No one should be using animals to make a profit, and by supporting these businesses you are supporting unethical animal practices. Only visit a paid animal attraction in Scotland if you are 100% sure it is ethical. But if you’re unsure, why not opt to see Scotland’s wild animals in their natural habitat instead? Scotland has a diverse range of wildlife, especially birdlife. Head to the  Isle of May  or  Handa Island  to see puffins and other sea cliff nesting birds, or explore the  Birds of Prey Trail  in the Outer Hebrides and see the incredible birdlife Scotland has to offer!

puffins in scotland

22. Do not feed wild animals

While the idea of feeding wild deer in the Scottish Highlands may sound really cool, it is highly unethical and can cause digestive upset and other health issues for animals. It’s also dangerous to get that close to wildlife- because they are just that: wild. Wild deer, especially stags, can charge if they feel threatened. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t like to be on the receiving end of a head butt from a wild stag! Feeding wild animals also encourages them to seek out humans for food, leading them out of their natural environments which can cause higher mortality on roads.

23. Photograph brochures and flyers

If you’re visiting  Edinburgh during the August festivals , you’ll be handed all kinds of flyers from people promoting shows. It’s far better to photograph a flyer and hand it back to be reused rather than eventually throwing the flyer away.

24. Turn off your flash

Many museums, castles and palaces in Scotland [such as Holyrood Palace] won’t let you photograph artwork or artifacts they have on display. Why? Well, light is known to cause damage to artwork, and if light can damage artwork, imagine what a flash on a camera can do! Many pieces of art and artifacts in Scotland are so old and delicate that they won’t survive ignorant tourists wanting to get a snap for the ‘gram. Don’t be that kind of tourist; ask a staff member if you are unsure if you can take photos or not. 

25. Explore and help protect Scotland’s historic monuments

I’ve been an  Historic Scotland member  for a couple of years now, and aside from getting free entry to over 70 historic sites in Scotland, what I love is that the money from my membership goes toward restoring these ancient monuments. If you’re a tourist you can purchase a  3, 7 or 14 day Explorer pass  but if you’re a resident I highly recommend signing up for an annual membership. The membership is around £4 per month, and not only have I gotten my money’s worth, I feel good that I am helping to protect Scotland’s history.

I hope this list has given you a few ideas on how you can be a more responsible traveller in Scotland. Have you learned something from this list? If you have a tip for sustainable travel in Scotland drop it in the comments below. I’m always interested to learn new tips on sustainable travel. Did you spot an error? Let me know- I’m always looking to improve.

Do you care about sustainable tourism in Scotland too? Make sure you share this post!

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Saturday 29th of August 2020

very nice thanks so much for sharing

Monday 6th of July 2020

Great job, love the personal touch!

Yvette Webster

Tuesday 7th of July 2020

Edinburgh Tourism Action Group

Green accreditation and awards

There is growing pressure to demonstrate verifiable green credentials from both visitors and your B2B clients in the public and private sector. 

There are tourism specific green schemes, which are increasingly well known by visitors including:

  • Green Tourism Business Scheme The Green Tourism certification supports businesses to be more sustainable and provides a credible and independent way of demonstrating your sustainable tourism commitment. Founded in Scotland, it’s a globally recognised scheme with 2000 members.  Their GreenCheck Quiz will determine if your business is already eligible for a Green Tourism award.  It only takes 10 minutes and you get an instant result!  For more information and to receive an application pack, please email  [email protected] or call 01738 632162. 
  • Green Key is run by Keep Scotland Beautiful and allows your business to meet global standards set by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and recognised by the UN WTO.    There are numerous free resources and training from partner organisations which offer advice, funding opportunities and skills development for staff across sustainability, inclusivity and community engagement.

VIBES award :   

The VIBES Scottish Environment Business Awards reward and recognise organisations that have demonstrated significant business benefits from good environmental practice. In the year that COP26 is coming to Glasgow, the 2021 Awards will also celebrate the actions and achievements of businesses towards reaching net-zero carbon emissions.

Case study: Dundonald Links, Ayrshire  

Environmental Management Systems

Many corporates now demand proof that all their suppliers have an externally verified environmental management system (EMS) in place. The international standards for EMS are well explained on the NetRegs site and point towards ISO 14001 – the internationally recognised standard. There is also a free online tool that businesses can use confidentially to assess their environmental (legal) compliance around Air, Water, Waste, Materials and equipment, Hazardous substances and Packaging at Environmental Self-Assessment tool

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Biodiversity

The Highland landscape that surrounds Cruachan Power Station is integral to how it runs and maintaining the health of the land, the wildlife and biodiversity of the area is of upmost importance.

For the past seven years, an ecologist has conducted surveys of the site in support of the Biodiversity Action Plan, which covers the area from the Visitor Centre to the dam. The area has operated a Biodiversity Plan since 2005, to help wildlife on its landholdings. It promotes habitats and species, and sets out a timetable for improvement measures.

View Cruachan Power Station’s Biodiversity Survey 2022 here .

green tourism scheme scotland

Gold Award for Green Tourism

Cruachan Visitor Centre is proud to have been awarded the Gold Award for Green Tourism in 2019.

The largest sustainable certification programme of its kind, a Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS) award recognises places to stay and visit that take action to support the local area and wider environment.

Businesses that meet the standard for a GTBS award receive a Bronze, Silver, or Gold award based on their level of achievement. Businesses are assessed on areas including Management and Marketing, Social Involvement and Communication, Energy, Water, Purchasing, Waste, Travel, Natural and Cultural Heritage and Innovation.

For further information www.green-tourism.com

green tourism scheme scotland

Cruachan Visitor Centre Green Tourism Policy

Cruachan Visitor Centre is committed to providing excellent service whilst protecting the environment. A symbol of this commitment is our membership of the Green Tourism Business Scheme. This scheme provides accreditation and encouragement for tourism businesses to reduce the environmental impact of their activities. By encouraging sustainable practices it ensures the continued enjoyment of Scotland for future generations.

Through membership of the Green Tourism Business Scheme Cruachan Visitor Centre is committed to:

green tourism scheme scotland

Green Tourism Offers

Discounted places are available on guided tours for visitors arriving by public transport, electric vehicle, on foot or by bicycle. This offer is subject to availability and requesting a place in advance is strongly recommended to prevent disappointment.

Green Tourism awards

Our staffed Historic Scotland properties hold an impressive 37 Green Tourism gold awards and 31 silver awards.

A healthy green leaf.

Sustainability is at the heart of all that Historic Environment Scotland does. We conserve and maintain monuments across Scotland to ensure they will be enjoyed by future generations.

To see how you can help us in our aims, read our guidance on responsible visiting.

Download our Green Tourism Visitor Charter.

Green Tourism scheme

Most of our staffed sites are assessed under the Green Tourism scheme , the leading sustainable tourism certification scheme in the UK.

Of the 68 Historic Scotland properties individually assessed under the scheme, 37 were given gold awards and 31 were awarded silver. 

The scheme assesses members against a rigorous set of criteria. The range of areas examined includes:

  • waste management
  • procurement 
  • biodiversity

We undertake sustainable practice where possible across all activities in our estate. We also encourage visitors to use public transport to reach Historic Scotland properties where possible.

A green visitor file is available at each of our staffed sites. This is full of useful information to help visitors make the most of the local environment.

The file may contain details about:

  • local cycle routes
  • farmers’ markets
  • local wildlife 
  • other Green Tourism members nearby

Visitors can comment on our environmental efforts using the feedback form provided in the file.

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Loch Assynt is a freshwater loch in Sutherland, located in The North West Highlands Geopark.

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Responsible Tourism

Visitscotland plays a lead role in the development of responsible tourism through taking direct action on issues under our control, as well as encouraging and supporting responsible tourism development through influencing and collaborating with industry, communities, destinations, visitors and strategic partners. there are four strands to our responsible tourism strategy for scotland:, support scotland’s transition to a low carbon economy, ensure tourism in scotland is inclusive, ensure tourism contributes to thriving communities, support the protection, and considerate enjoyment of scotland’s natural & cultural heritage, respecting nature and contributing to develop the local economy is important and a chance for many scottish businesses to create innovative and sustainable projects. responsible tourism has a wide range of benefits which scotland relies upon as a destination., visitscotland travel trade team has compiled various tools to help you create sustainable programmes with our dedicated itineraries and a list of suppliers that have been awarded green tourism and working hard to support the economy in connection with the environment. further inspiration can also be found in our consumer website  sustainable & responsible tourism in scotland ..

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Responsible Itineraries

Visitscotland travel trade team has created a series of  responsible itineraries reflecting visitscotland’s commitment to the development of responsible tourism practices and a net zero sector, by protecting scotland’s natural assets now and for future generations. our inspirational itineraries will feature a variety of responsible experiences, including enjoy a walk in one of scotland natural reserves, explore a city with an electric bike or eat a delicious meal made from sustainable local produce..

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Scottish Suppliers

A list of suppliers working with the travel trade is available on the travel trade site. check our comprehensive list of suppliers who have stepped forward and committed to special rates, discounts and commissions exclusively available for the travel trade. within our list of suppliers a special category has been created for those companies who have also developed responsible products and/or are part of the green tourism scheme..

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Green Tourism Certification

Tackling climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing scottish tourism now. the green certification is a guarantee that the business you want to promote on your social  media channels or book as part of a trip you are planning for your clients is committed to the environment and community by increasing sustainable business practices. check our visitscotland corporate site to learn more about the  green tourism certification schemes  scottish businesses are applying to and the criteria a business needs to implement to officially become green certified..

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Respect the Landscape

We’re asking visitors to show their commitment to preserve scotland’s natural assets and beauty for now and generations to come, tread lightly and consider how their behaviour impacts each other and scotland. your clients will be able to explore most of scotland’s outdoor land, but it is important to be safe and prepared with the correct clothing and equipment. please read and share our guide to safety outdoors   and learn how to  tread lightly in scotland ..

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Responsible Tourism Toolkit

On visitscotland’s digital media library you can access our responsible tourism toolkit   where you can find a wealth of images and videos,  spanning from responsible businesses and best practices to outdoor activities and camping. please register to our digital media library for free and get access to a wide range of assets you can use to promote scotland responsibly..

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Inclusive and Accessible

Scotland is a naturally welcoming country. inclusive tourism ensures that all visitors can have a great experience without barriers. on the travel trade website you can find a list of suppliers  working with travel trade that categorise as accessible and inclusive. more on accessible holidays  can be found on our consumer website where you can browse further ideas and detailed access information on attractions, activities, food & drink and places to stay across scotland., sign up to our visitscotland travel trade enewsletter, sign up now to receive inspirational information about scotland, product updates, events and webinar invites, all from visitscotland and relevant to your market. by signing up you are indicating your consent to receiving our e-newsletter. you can unsubscribe at any time. we will also use your details in accordance with our privacy policy. view our privacy policy ..

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Green Certification, Accreditation, and Standardisation

  • Last updated: January 12th 2024

Introduction

A significant factor in museums becoming more sustainable is reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, their “carbon footprint”. There are many methods and tools to help museums do this. Including through the Museum Accreditation scheme, training, certification, and standardisation schemes. This guide highlights some of the options available to museums.

Green Tourism Scheme

Green Tourism is an awards certification programme that aims to recognise tourism businesses which have made a commitment to or actively working to becoming more sustainable. Their aim is to promote a greener, cleaner environment for people, places and our planet.

Green Tourism highlight five top reasons for joining:  

  • Green Tourism highlight five top reasons for joining:
  • Gain independent certification that’s respected by the customer
  • Achieve distinct market advantage to attract leisure or business spend
  • Build your brand with Green Tourism’s monthly campaigns
  • Stand out from competitors
  • Access bespoke action plan to improve and save costs.

They offer advice and guidance on issues including:

  • Reducing energy use
  • Saving water
  • Efficient & eco-friendly waste disposal
  • Ethical buying
  • Staying local & seasonal
  • Minimising food miles
  • Promoting biodiversity
  • Adopting a smart, sustainable outlook from top to bottom.

Different levels of certification are available. Progression is possible and encouraged to stimulate improvement in operations. Annual fees are associated with this scheme and are dependent on the size and type of your organisation. Museums are categorised in the “Visitor Attraction, Hostels and other Tourism Business” section.  

Further information can be found on the Green Tourism website .

Green Key is an international voluntary organisation that award an eco-label to tourist organisations. Their work focuses on accommodation-based organisations but other attractions, including museums are included. To gain this certification, an organisation must demonstrate adherence to a set of criteria set by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).

There is a lot of criteria needed for museums to gain Green Key certification. Some of these are labelled “Imperative”, which a museum must have. Others are optional “Guidelines” .

A summary of the areas of focus include:

  • Staff involvement
  • Environmental management
  • Guest information
  • Washing & Cleaning
  • Food & Beverage
  • Administration
  • Indoor Environment
  • Green Areas
  • Green Activities
  • Corporate Social Responsibility

Participating in the scheme for 2024 costs €750 annually. You are also required to cover the costs of your scheme audit in years one, two, and five.

Information about the application process can be found on the Green Key website .

Earth Check

Earth Check is a global organisation that focuses on certifying and advising the travel and tourism industry on sustainability and climate performance. Compared to other certification programs, Earth Check offers a broader range of services covering Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) and sustainability issues. For museums interested in climate and sustainability, the key services are:

  • Decarbonisation and Resilience – Ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and become more resilient to climate impacts.
  • Zero Waste – Strategies to minimize your organization’s waste production.
  • Climate Check – Assistance in developing a climate change strategy.
  • Earth Check Certified – A certification program based on your environmental impact.
  • Earth Check Evaluation – An entry-level program to assess an organization’s economic, social, and environmental impact.
  • Event Check – A service to help organize, manage, verify, and market events as sustainably as possible.

The costs for each service vary based on the organisation’s type and size. For accurate quotes, you can contact Earth Check directly through their website.

Standardisation 

Recognised standards of environmental performance can help to improve your organisations sustainability efforts by aligning to set targets. These provide goals to aim for, internationally recognised certification and can help your organisation continuously improve and stay on top of its environmental impact

An organisation’s emissions are usually split into three areas:

  • Scope 1 – These are direct emissions from things the organisation controls, like on-site energy use and emissions from their own vehicles.
  • Scope 2 – These are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating, or cooling used by the organisation.
  • Scope 3 – These are emissions from indirect actions related to the organisation’s operations, like supply chain, staff/volunteer travel, and anything else connected to the organisation but not directly controlled by it.

PAS 2060- Carbon Neutral Certification

PAS 2060 is the British Standards Institution (BSI) certification for carbon neutrality- for legitimate claims to be carbon neutral it’s expected an organisation is certified as PAS 2060. The term carbon neutral is defined as the sum of the greenhouse gas emissions (CO2e) produced by an organisation offset by carbon sinks and/or carbon credits.

It was set up in 2009 with the objective of increasing transparency of carbon neutrality claims by providing a common definition and recognised method of achieving carbon neutral status. There are several benchmarks and requirements that an organisation must reach to achieve this certification. These include:

  • Carbon footprint measurements include 100% of Scope 1 and Scope 2 and all Scope 3 emissions that contribute more than 1% of the total footprint
  • Develop a Carbon Management Plan containing a commitment to carbon neutrality and outline the timescale of reductions, specific targets, planned means of reduction and how residual emissions will be offset
  • From one of the PAS 2060 approved schemes such as the Gold Standard, UK Woodland Carbon Code or Verified Carbon Standard credits for offsetting
  • Genuinely additional- i.e., reductions that would not have happened anyway under a business-as-usual approach
  • Verified by an independent third party to ensure reductions are not temporary, displaced or double counted
  •   Access and buy International standards and regulatory info – British Standard Institute  
  • Carbon neutral certification – The Carbon Trust  

More information can be found at PAS 2060 – Carbon Neutrality Standard and Certification – British Standard Institute  

ISO 14000 series: Environmental Management

ISO (International Organisations for Standardization) 14000 are a series of International Standards for environmental management. The aim of the series is to help organisations minimise how their operations negatively impact the environment, comply with applicable laws, regulations and other environment based requests and to continually improve the previous two issues.  

There are several different ISO’s in this series which may be of relevance to museums and their aims to become more sustainable, however the main one is ISO 14001. The most recent version was released in 2015 and is named “ISO 14001:2015”. This defines criteria for an environmental management system (EMS). It does not state requirements for environmental performance but rather maps out a framework that a company or organisation can follow to set up an effective EMS and focuses on areas such as procurement, storage, distribution etc with the aim of becoming more sustainable in day-to-day practices. If an organisation is following this standard, they can be certified as such.

An EMS such as ISO 14001 is comprised of the policies, processes, plans, practices and records that define the rules governing how an organisation interacts with the environment. Having one which is certified ISO 14001 demonstrates an adherence to an internationally recognised standard of sustainability and environmental care.

More information can be found on the ISO 14001:2015 webpage .

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Shining a light on the green and gorgeous

What is  green travel?

  • Jul 2, 2019

Green Tourism

Green Tourism (was formerly known as The Green Tourism Business Scheme - GTBS) is a national sustainable tourism grading scheme in the UK that has been endorsed by VisitEngland, VisitScotland and VisitWales and has been validated by the International Centre for Responsible Tourism since 2008. 

Operated by a not-for-profit organisation, Green Business, there are over 2,300 GTBS members throughout the UK and Ireland. 

Businesses are graded by qualified environmental assessors and can benefit from significant marketing advantage and reduced running costs of up to 20%.

Green Traveller has visited and filmed over 100 Green Tourism graded businesses in the UK, writing, photographing and filming the businesses as part of our Green Travel Guides series.

Here's a video that explains how video can be used to to promote green tourism businesses:

More information about how it works and all its members, see green-tourism.com/members

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Visit East Lothian

Spotlight on Green & Sustainable Tourism Businesses in East Lothian

| Visit East Lothian

Green tourism has become an essential consideration for visitors seeking sustainable and eco-friendly options when planning their holiday. East Lothian, with its stunning landscapes, rich history and charming towns and villages, has many thriving tourism businesses catering for visitors who want to travel responsibly.

The Green Tourism Scheme is a certification programme recognising the commitment of tourism businesses which are actively working to become more sustainable.

In this blog, we highlight some of our East Lothian businesses who have been recognised for their efforts in reducing their impact on the environment and achieved a Green Tourism award.

green tourism scheme scotland

Gilmerton House (GOLD)

Gilmerton House , this Grade ‘A’ listed Georgian Mansion, home to the Kinloch Family for thirteen generations has been operating as an exclusive use private venue for over 20 years. The property is heated by a Biomass boiler system, burning recycled wood and cardboard from the estate and wood from local residents. Thousands of trees have been planted throughout the estate over the years providing a wonderful environment for the local wildlife.

Whitekirk Hill (SILVER)

Whitekirk Hill countryside retreat strongly believe in eco-friendly values, not least their new range of low impact lodges which are installed with air source heat pumps, triple glazing and led lighting throughout to reduce power consumption. They provide free EV charging points and create seasonal menus whilst continuously sourcing food and drink locally wherever possible, thereby reducing food miles.

East Lothian Cottages (GOLD)

The Muckle Snug and The Wee Bothy are two self-catering cottages set in a rural location just outside the market town of Haddington. The owner commits to providing ethical and plastic-free alternatives to bottle shampoos and soaps to visitors, encouraging on-site composting and recycling and offers visitors the use a vehicle charging point.

Visit-East-Lothian-Gilmerton-House-Green-Tourism-Award-Gold

Glenkinchie Distillery (GOLD)

From the way they make their whisky to the way visitors enjoy the experience, sustainability has always been at the heart of Glenkinchie Distillery . Initiatives include zero-waste to landfill, the distillation process and high standards of water efficiency and stewardship. They have installed beehives, bat boxes, bug houses and plantings to encourage pollination and protect wildlife.

Scottish Seabird Centre (GOLD)

The Scottish Seabird Centre has won multiple awards for their environmental focus - from the energy they use, the products they sell in their shop, to encouraging sustainable travel and raising awareness through the conservation, education and charity work they do. They have undertaken studies to reduce emissions relating to their wildlife boat experiences.

John Muir’s Birthplace (GOLD)

When John Muir's Birthplace opened in 2003, from the start they decided to follow green and sustainable principles. This includes buying materials for their workshops, using Fairtrade tea and coffee and selling locally made and recycled goods in the shop. They continue to work towards better energy efficiency and reducing carbon footprint. Their efforts reflect the values of John Muir and are very fitting in the house where this environmental conservation pioneer was born.

Visit-East-Lothian-Glenkinchie-Distillery-Green-Tourism-Award-Gold

Ezee Riders (BRONZE)

Ezee Riders located just outside of North Berwick are an e-bike tour and rental company. They achieved their award through a commitment to sustainable travel for both customers and within their business, the experiences in the local area and how to enjoy it in a sustainable and responsible manner and by promoting locally and sustainably produced food, contributing to a more sustainable food ecosystem.

East Coast Restaurant (SILVER)

East Coast Restaurant in Musselburgh managed to achieve their silver rating after only been open for 18 months! They decided to change their plastic and polystyrene packaging for compostable, biodegradable and recyclable alternatives. Their frying range recycles heat, saves on oil and any leftover oil is uplifted and turned into biodiesel. They are committed to using as many local food and drink suppliers as possible.

Visit-East-Lothian-Ezee-Riders-Green-Tourism-Award-Bronze

Other businesses who have received this recognised award:-

Eco Friendly Accommodation - Winton Castle (GOLD) , Thurston Manor Leisure Park (SILVER), C arberry Tower Mansion & Estate (BRONZE)

Attractions - National Museum of Flight (GOLD) , Preston Mill (SILVER) , Dirleton Castle (GOLD) , Newhailes House & Gardens (SILVER) , Seton Collegiate Church (GOLD) , Inveresk Lodge Garden – (SILVER) , Tantallon Castle (SILVER)

Organic Farm Stays / Beaches – Yellowcraig Caravan Site (SILVER)

Sustainable Food & Dining - Hickory (GOLD)

Tour Operator - E-City Chauffeur (GOLD)

Information correct at the time of publication.

Jackie Gardiner

Author: Jackie Gardiner

Visit East Lothian

Beaches

green tourism scheme scotland

Visit Scotland Net Zero Membership Offer

Campaign assets for the visitscotland destination zero and unesco trail green tourism discounted membership offers..

September 2022

Thank you for helping us promote these two exciting Green Tourism discounted membership offers.

These offers are being funded by VisitScotland on behalf of The Scottish Government as part of the Destination Net Zero programme.

By reducing the cost of Green Tourism membership - and so encouraging tourism businesses to join the accreditation programme - the offer will not only support tourism recovery, but it will also help to power a more sustainable low carbon future for Scotland.

For further information on these offers, the benefits, how to apply, and full details of eligibility and terms and conditions, please see these pages:

VisitScotland Net Zero Green Tourism Membership Offer

UNESCO National Trail of Scotland Green Tourism Membership Offer

Campaign assets

Here you will find a selection of downloadable images, graphics, and logos that you can use to promote the offers. These are all resized for web, email, and social media. They are free for you to use. Simply point to the image, ‘right click’ and ‘Save image as’ to your computer.

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This years Enchanted Forest theme revealed

A press release from the organisers of The Enchanted Forest, which takes place between 3 October - 3 November 2024 at Faskally Wood, Pitlochry, Highland Perthshire, confirmed this year’s much anticipated show theme is "Symphony of Nature".

The latest show theme from this long-established autumnal event is a celebration of the natural world and the harmonies created by the many creatures who call Faskally Wood home.

This year’s show promises to be an unforgettable journey through a symphony of lights, music, and the natural beauty of the forest, encouraging visitors to immerse themselves in a magical celebration of unity and the beauty of nature’s interconnectedness.

Visitors to this year’s Enchanted Forest will be transported into an immersive outdoor experience which combines a kaleidoscope of vivid colours with inspirational original music.

Beira, the Goddess of Winter, from the 2023 Enchanted Forest show, will return as a wise and gentle conductor who orchestrates the forest’s melody. Beira’s magical wish upon a dandelion seed will set the stage for a breathtaking display of light, sound, and dancing fountains, transforming the forest into a harmonious haven.

A light installation of a large pink flower with a bee in the middle

This year’s show will include several impressive installations, including a spectacular light show over Loch Dunmore using music, animation, projection, beams, lights, and lasers to create a visual and audible celebration of harmony in all its forms.

Tickets are now on sale

For more information or to book tickets for this years show, check out the website. 

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    This means that you align with UNESCO values and responsible tourism. Run by Green Tourism UK, this well-recognised award is an important part of Scotland's future as a sustainable tourism destination. Visitors seek sustainable options when planning their holiday. So, joining this scheme is worthwhile for all businesses.

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  18. Green Tourism Awards

    Most of our staffed sites are assessed under the Green Tourism scheme, the leading sustainable tourism certification scheme in the UK. Of the 68 Historic Scotland properties individually assessed under the scheme, 37 were given gold awards and 31 were awarded silver. The scheme assesses members against a rigorous set of criteria.

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    VisitScotland Net Zero Green Tourism Membership Offer. UNESCO National Trail of Scotland Green Tourism Membership Offer . Campaign assets. Here you will find a selection of downloadable images, graphics, and logos that you can use to promote the offers. These are all resized for web, email, and social media. They are free for you to use.

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    A press release from the organisers of The Enchanted Forest, which takes place between 3 October - 3 November 2024 at Faskally Wood, Pitlochry, Highland Perthshire, confirmed this year's much anticipated show theme is "Symphony of Nature". The latest show theme from this long-established autumnal ...

  25. Scottish Greens manifesto: Key policies analysed

    The Scottish Greens have launched their 2024 election manifesto, in which they promise to "turbo charge" Scotland's journey to net zero with a call to invest £28bn a year in tackling climate change.