Challenge 1: Reducing the seasonality of demand
The concentration of tourism trips in certain periods of the year has a major effect on sustainability. Not only does it reduce the viability of enterprises to maximise capacity utilisation and offer year round employment, it can also place pressure on communities and natural resources at certain times while leaving surplus capacity at others.
Seasonality of demand makes it very difficult to plan and manage the provision of tourism facilities efficiently. A process of stimulating demand at less busy times of the year, taking up spare capacity, would enable revenue from tourism to grow while putting less pressure on the environment and community.
Appropriate action to strengthen the appeal of off-season visits includes:
adjusting target market selection towards less seasonal markets (e.g. business tourism, non-family segments and certain niche markets),
innovative product development, packaging, events and promotion in the off-season,
promoting price differentials and incentives,
joint working between service suppliers and operators to extend opening times and cooperate on marketing and promotional activity.
Actions: VisitScotland Seasonal Marketing Campaigns (Winter and Autumn)
It is estimated that tourism transport (inbound and outbound) currently accounts for 8% of CO2 equivalent emissions in the EU. Daily revelations about the advance and impact of climate change and associations with transport emissions have made this a fundamental and high profile issue for tourism.
The tourism sector must respond actively and responsibly to this challenge. The approach should seek to increase total visitor spending and economic benefit (in line with the 50% growth target) while reducing emissions resulting from this activity:
promoting carbon-offsetting schemes to travellers, with the support of operators,
promoting alternative transport options (equally for the enjoyable experience they offer as well as for their low impact),
promoting Scotland to more local / domestic markets,
encouraging fewer, but longer, holidays while recognising that this goes against recent market trends.
Challenge 3: Minimising resource use and waste
Tourism can be a significant and, at times, profligate user of environmental resources. Much of the action required to address this challenge rests with strengthening environmental management in tourism enterprises:
minimising energy consumption and encouraging the use of renewable sources and improved technology,
promoting and facilitating the reduction, reuse and recycling of materials,
water quality, including the efficient treatment of sewerage, avoiding discharge into marine and river environments,
reducing and managing litter,
developing and using local supply chains, in particular to reduce food miles.
Challenge 4: Looking after our natural and cultural heritage
The quality of the natural and cultural heritage is, in most areas, fundamentally important to the generation of economic prosperity through tourism, to the quality of life of local communities and to the visitor experience. All three can benefit from:
strengthening the relationship between protected areas, biodiversity and local tourism interests,
visitor management, information and interpretation, and monitoring,
increasing contributions to conservation and management from visitors and tourism businesses,
Challenge 5: Enhancing quality of life for Scottish communities through tourism
Tourism has significant power to change the character and prosperity of the places where it occurs. Two types of change present particular challenges and opportunities for local communities at the moment; property development associated with tourism (e.g. the proposed Trump golf course or the building of houses to be used as self-catering or second homes) and the restructuring of local economies, resulting from a decline in traditional activities.
Careful destination planning and management is required to:
maximise the proportion of income that is retained locally and other benefits to local communities,
strengthen local supply chains and promote use of local produce and merchandise (e.g. craft goods), shops and other services by visitors.
Challenge 6: Improving the quality of tourism jobs
One of the key impacts, and benefits, that tourism has on Scotland is through the employment opportunities it offers. To make sure that tourism brings net benefits to those it employs we need to encourage:
exchange of good practice in tourism training and HR management,
integration of sustainability issues into mainstream tourism training and education,
Challenge 7: Making holidays available to all
Social inclusion and equity are important principles of sustainable development. It is estimated that around 40% of European citizens do not take a holiday, often due to various forms of deprivation or disability.
This challenge has strategic implications for sustainable tourism. A policy of maximising revenue from tourism without increasing volume could go against social inclusion. However, pursuing social tourism has also been shown to assist in reducing seasonality and supporting year-round employment, as many people who can be reached in this way, such as those on lower incomes, are well placed to travel outside the main season. Relevant action includes:
raising business awareness of the size of the market,
designing and adapting tourism facilities and sites to meet (not just legislative but market-driven) requirements for physical disability and sensory impairment,
improving information relevant to disabled people and under-privileged groups,
encouraging a broad price range in tourism facilities and experiences,
pursuing specific schemes to facilitate and encourage holiday taking by people on low incomes.