With interest in responsible travel on the rise, travellers and destinations can work together to ensure a positive impact for both people and places. Could your business help provide a life-changing experience for everyone involved?
Securing our future
Research by Scottish Natural Heritage has found that £1.4 billion of visitor spending per year and 39,000 jobs can be attributed to nature-based tourism. With expenditure on these activities worth nearly 40% of all tourism spending in Scotland, linking relevant markets to these opportunities can be of real benefit to Scotland’s conservation practices.
But it’s not just nature that benefits; the economy and local businesses rely on these attractions to bring income to their area, so targeting responsible travellers who may be eager to play a role in their preservation is vital. The sea eagles on Mull provide a great example, bringing around £2 million a year into the local economy with thousands of people visiting the island to see the birds.
Similarly, in 2012 the World Responsible Tourism Awards recognised the National Trust for Scotland’s restoration work at St Kilda as a good example of the contribution tourism can make to the maintenance of built cultural heritage in remote areas. As the UK’s only mixed-World Heritage site, it’s deemed of great importance to cultural and natural heritage.
As well as making a positive contribution to these destinations and the environment, research has shown that tourists are happy to pay a premium for responsible experiences.
According to global information and measurement company Nielsen, more than half of global respondents to a recent survey say that they are willing to pay extra for products and services from companies that are committed to making a positive social and environmental impact. As well as this, VisitScotland research has shown that 84% of visitors to Scotland state that sustainability is important when making a holiday choice.
VisitScotland, in conjunction with Resource Efficient Scotland, has produced a suite of advice guides called the Better Business Guides, which are designed to help tourism businesses enhance their visitor experience and improve service, provide cost-saving opportunities and increase business efficiency.
Across the globe
The SAVE Travel Alliance is a not-for-profit network which helps to match travel markets with destination development needs. It aims to sustain and enhance local destinations.
This fast-growing market segment was first identified by The George Washington University in 2003. Honduras was the first country to establish it as a national priority, but other countries are now considering it as a tourism marketing strategy and development approach.
The SAVE market includes travellers who engage in activities which can create significant positive contributions to the sustainability of a destination.
Projects such as charity Trees for Life’s restoration of the ancient Caledonian Forest to the Scottish Highlands are highly reliant on volunteers from all over the world. Visitors and locals alike can take part in Conservation Weeks, which can be booked through the charity’s website or organisations like responsibletravel.com, and participants have already planted over a million trees in the area for future generations to enjoy.
Whether through a network similar to the SAVE Travel Alliance or other marketing routes, it’s vital that responsible tourists or volunteers are able to join together with destinations to preserve Scotland’s much-loved landscape for generations to come.