Here at Select Scotland Tours we understand the importance of preserving and protecting the landscape, habitats and beauty of the land in which we live and work and we aim to ensure our tours are Environmentally Friendly. In November 2020, Select Scotland Tours became the first group of Accredited Scottish Tourist Guides to obtain a Gold Award through the Green Tourism Business initiative. This was achieved through targeting measures at three levels within our business:
- Making our operations Zero Waste and Carbon Neutral;
- Promoting our Green credentials and initiatives to Travel Agents and Destination Management Companies; and,
- Incorporating the message of sensitive and responsible tourism when guiding guests around Scotland.
Reducing waste and carbon emissions within our own operations was, perhaps, the easiest objective to achieve:
- All driver guides undertook the Government sponsored FuelGood driver training, or equivalent;
- All walking guides undertake Leave No Trace training;
- All vehicle carbon emissions are offset through tree planting in the Select Scotland Woodland, part of the Trees For Life re-wilding project;
- City Centre driving tours are no longer offered, with all tours undertaken on foot or by public transport;
- All home offices use a 100% renewable energy tariff;
- Wherever possible Ticketless and paperless itineraries are used; and,
- Any waste generated by guest or guide is collected daily for recycling.
With increased environmental awareness and the increasing threat from global climate change the demand for Responsible and Sustainable Tourism continues to grow. Collaborative working with travel agents and Destination Management Companies during the planning phase of trips has allowed a number of improvements to be made:
- Carbon neutral travel around Scotland with no incremental cost to the end client;
- Identification and incorporation of other responsible operators and service providers (hotels, restaurants and attractions) into final itineraries;
- Expanding elements within tours that focus on a connection to nature, highlighting Scotland’s Geo and Bio-diversity;
- Promoting Scotland’s Rivers and Lochs for angling tourism; and,
- Promotion of local experiences with which people can connect on an emotional level, avoiding overcrowding hotspots and potentially damaging impacts on the local environment or communities, while spreading tourist spend to smaller, more remote businesses.
The World Federation defines a Tourist Guide as “a person who guides visitors in the language of their choice and interprets the cultural and natural heritage of an area”. It is through helping a visitor interpret what they see around them, rather than dictating how they should behave, that we can best develop the concept of the Responsible Tourist. Depending on tour type and length, the following (amongst others) are all topics we might discuss, which may influence where and how our guests choose to travel in future;
- Scotland’s environmental targets and achievements on a local and national level and what needs to be done in the future;
- Tourist numbers at the more popular sights and the importance of tourism spend on the local economy;
- The need for catch and release policies on all angling trips;
- Reporting of wildlife sightings and how this is used; and,
- Importance of locally sourced food with ethical provenance, how this benefits the environment and how tourism benefits the local producer.