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Launch of climate action plan will help Glasgow lead the way as a world-class sustainable tourism and conference destination

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum Cityscape, Glascow.

An action plan for Glasgow’s tourism and conventions sectors has been introduced to help boost the city’s green credentials and support its visitor economy.

The launch yesterday, 24 October of the Sustainable Tourism and Conventions Action Plan demonstrates Glasgow’s commitment to becoming one of Europe’s most sustainable cities, enhancing its reputation as a leading international destination for responsible business and leisure tourism.

Glasgow is already recognised as a leading sustainable tourism and conference destination, ranking 4th in the world on the Global Destination Sustainability Index of responsible tourism and events cities, and it is the only city in the UK to achieve EarthCheck Benchmark Community status.

The new Action Plan – developed by Glasgow Life in association with VisitScotland and The Travel Foundation – has been created to drive further positive climate change to help Glasgow achieve its aim of becoming the UK’s first Carbon Neutral City by 2030 and creating a stronger, regenerative circular economy.

Aligned to the Glasgow Declaration announced at COP26, the UN Conference on Climate Change, the Action Plan is designed to support Glasgow in meeting Scotland’s NetZero target and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. These key objectives underpin the People Make Glasgow Greener Strategy which affirms the city’s vision to move ‘from steam, to green’. Supporting this, the Plan sets out the key actions being undertaken to help accelerate the incorporation of sustainability into every aspect of Glasgow’s tourism and conventions sectors.

At a time when recovery from the impacts of the pandemic continues to be a priority, the Action Plan also aims to support economic renewal to boost industry performance. Helping industry partners reduce the environmental impact of their practices, products and services will enable them to benefit from the many advantages of supporting responsible tourism – such as capitalising on major forthcoming events in the city, including the by ensuring alignment to their sustainable mission.

Glasgow Life Head of Tourism & Conventions, Aileen Crawford, said: “Glasgow is renowned as a leading destination for sustainable business tourism. Our Convention Bureau was the first to gain Green Tourism accreditation and sign up to the Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency initiative. Key achievements such as that are vital in enabling us to attract prestigious conferences vital to the city’s economy. In the face of intensifying global competition from other sustainable destinations, we need to keep driving forward. 

“As climate emergency awareness grows, meeting planners are scrutinising the sustainability credentials of potential host cities in far greater depth; conference organisers want to see evidence of responsible practices embedded in every aspect of the destination offer. It’s therefore crucial that we support Glasgow’s Tourism and Conference industry partners by working with them to advance their green credentials.

“Working together we can achieve positive transformation that will greatly benefit the people of Glasgow, our visitors, our economy and of course, our environment."

Glasgow Life – which has responsibility for key elements of Destination Management, working closely with stakeholders, industry partners and services – will implement the Action Plan through activities focused on three strategic areas: 

  • Building a sustainable tourism sector – supporting industry to be more sustainable through training, accreditation and signposting to resources
  • Developing Glasgow’s sustainable city offer – working with internal teams and external stakeholders to strengthen the sectors’ sustainable credentials and adapting processes to champion green change
  • Showcasing Glasgow as a sustainable city destination – translating the green conversation actions which are meaningful, free or low cost; celebrating and promoting successes in the industry.

Under these overarching themes, key actions designed to accelerate positive change are set out to provide a clear, practical guide which also highlights how these actions are aligned to the priorities of the national tourism strategy Scotland Outlook 2030, and what the targets are for measuring success. Examples of the extensive activities are:

  • Sustainability-focused food and drink schemes to minimise waste, to use/promote locally-sourced seasonal produce and ensure suppliers demonstrate responsible practices
  • Encourage business sign-up to the Green Tourism Award and accreditation schemes
  • Promote sustainable methods of transport for staff and guests, and capitalise on schemes to encourage public transport uptake and electric vehicle use
  • Training opportunities supporting sustainable and responsible tourism and hospitality by raising employee awareness of policies and procedures and engagement as good practice

The Action Plan also emphasises the importance of promoting sustainability activities and achievements and sharing best practice to inspire other industry partners. Recent examples include The Burrell Collection – which, following the museum’s £68m refurbishment, highlighted its new technologically advanced power, heating and lighting systems that have dramatically improved its environmental performance, and warehouse venue SWG3 – which recently publicised its innovative Bodyheat system that uses the venue’s audiences as an energy source, capturing heat they generate and funnelling it below ground to a layer of bedrock that acts like a thermal battery.

VisitScotland Director of Industry & Destination Development, Rob Dickson, said: “Environmental change and social inclusions are the biggest challenges facing our tourism and events sector and our latest tourism insights reveal that sustainability is an increasingly important consideration for business and leisure travellers. We are working with industry to ensure Scotland can become one of the most economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable destinations in the world. 

“Glasgow’s Sustainable Tourism and Conventions Action Plan offers a great practical guide to show how the sectors, and businesses connected with them, can position sustainability at the heart of their offering, making it easier for travellers to make environmentally-conscious decisions.

“Encouraging and enabling industry partners to support responsible tourism and conventions will further strengthen Glasgow’s credentials as a great sustainable destination. That’s crucial in enabling the city to attract leisure and business visitors and events and delivering economic growth, whilst addressing the climate crisis.”

Jeremy Sampson, CEO of the Travel Foundation, an NGO which helps organisations to deliver on the goals of the Glasgow Declaration, said: “We were delighted to support Glasgow Life as it developed its initial climate action plan, and would urge industry partners to get involved to support its implementation.

“Glasgow’s Action Plan highlights the city’s forward-thinking approach to sustainability, as it draws upon many existing initiatives, and aligns these to support the city’s climate action. The benefits will be far-reaching and have the potential to not only bring greater value from visitors to the city but also enhance the wellbeing of the people of Glasgow, its visitors and of course our environment and planet.”

The Sustainable Tourism and Conventions Action Plan is attached and can also be accessed via the sustainability section of the Glasgow Tourism and Visitor Plan website.

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