In the midst of the global pandemic over the last 18 months, the world’s climate crisis has also been brought into sharp focus.
CV19 enforced closure on the North-east’s tourism businesses at a time when the region was beginning to emerge as a cultural and leisure break destination in its own right, moving away from its former economic reliance on oil and gas.
But the pause on visitors has also given businesses the opportunity to think about how they can be greener, more eco-friendly and more aware of sustainability and the environment at a time when the damage we are doing to the planet is evident around the world - 68% of adults in Scotland now agree that climate change is an immediate and urgent problem.
This city region is already leading and innovating in this space. The P&J Live facility was built to the highest environmental standards, making it the most sustainable venue of its type in the UK. With its own innovative energy centre, it uses food and garden waste from around Aberdeen to create hydrogen gas which powers the energy centre supplying heating, cooling and power, not only to P&J Live but also the onsite hotels. It was designed to be a living environment to attract people and wildlife to the area and over 29,000 trees and shrubs were planted on site.
Other key low-carbon/net zero themed projects in the region include:
- VisitAberdeenshire led a programme of sustainability audits, with advice on developing action plans and a webinar series
- Scotland’s largest offshore wind test and demonstration facility, Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm, is hosted in Aberdeen Bay
- The world’s first double-decker hydrogen buses were launched in Aberdeen and the city aspires to make its own hydrogen to power the buses in coming years
- The Net Zero Technology Centre is driving green technology transition in the North Sea
COP26 will be held in Glasgow in November, bringing countries together to agree a comprehensive, ambitious and balanced outcome that takes forward co-ordinated climate action. As part of this, responsible tourism requires the tourism industry, government, public sector, communities and visitors to collectively respond and manage their economic, social and environmental impacts, maximising positive impacts and minimising negative ones, making all forms of tourism sustainable.
Many tourism businesses in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire are already doing their bit to help combat climate change with measures like reducing their carbon footprint from heating and lighting, using low-energy appliances and bulbs, reducing food waste, conserving water, using less packaging and cutting down on food miles. They are mindful that consumer behaviour is changing and when choosing a holiday, many visitors now actively seek out locations, destinations, accommodation and experiences that put the environment first.
We all have a duty of care to protect our assets for the future – particularly those assets which are so vital to our country’s brand and to making Scotland so unique. VisitScotland was the first national tourism organisation to declare a climate emergency through ‘Tourism Declares’, and we strongly believe that tourism is a force for good - sustaining communities and the economy by creating jobs, tackling depopulation and improving the wellbeing of everyone who experiences it; but only when industry and our natural assets work in harmony together.