The impacts of climate change are already affecting the National Park and visible impacts of this have been experienced through increased flooding, wind, rain and storm intensities, as well as hidden impacts such as droughts, biosecurity with the risk of invasive species, and seasonal changes to the food chains for the wildlife of the National Park.
Businesses who respond to these changes in customer behaviour, attitudes and expectations will be able to capitalise on the win-win situation; achieving a competitive advantage in the tourism market and making a positive environmental contribution in the process.
Travellers are looking for more ways to reduce their carbon footprint and to offset their emissions created through travel and tourism activity. There is evidence through online searches that consumers are looking at visiting destinations that have adopted a ‘green’ approach to business operations and have sustainability at the heart of what they do and how they do it. It is vital that we all come together to tackle these issues. This will need the support of all business employees and our visitors to change behaviours and to build sustainability into all activity, services and visitor communications.
Sustainable tourism is an underpinning principle of Scotland’s national tourism strategy. Tourism has the potential to act as an agent for change beyond the sector, influencing and interacting with communities in its social, economic and environmental impacts. Increasing awareness of sustainability amongst visitors helps reduce emissions from energy consumption, waste generation, water use and travel choices.
Many of the objectives outlined in this toolkit also help to create a financial gain for businesses while contributing to the improvement of the environmental impact. Reduced costs and improved efficiencies achieved through waste reduction, travel and energy use can benefit business overhead costs through reduced energy consumption.
The Scottish Government declared a global climate emergency in 2019, and set out its ambition to become a ‘Net Zero Nation’ by 2045. As a public body, we here at the National Park Authority have a moral and statutory obligation to play our part in helping Scotland achieve its ambitious plans. We believe we must lead by example in tackling the climate emergency and that’s why we are weaving a net zero approach across the fabric of our entire organisation. You have a role to play too, all of us can make choices that positively impact and protect this special place.