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28 September 2022

HES seeking views on Responsible Tourism plans

Historic Environment Scotland has launched a public consultation to gather views on its draft Responsible Tourism Framework

Tall standing stones with a people in dressed in black clothes in the background centre. In the foreground of image is grass, with various coloured wild flowers on a sunny day..

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has launched a public consultation today (Wednesday 28 September) to gather views on its draft Responsible Tourism Framework.

Scotland’s tourism sector has a key role to play in tackling the climate crisis and achieving net-zero, while contributing significantly to the Scottish economy. There is growing recognition of the importance of responsible tourism and its benefits, that can be enjoyed by all without detriment to communities and the environment.

HES, the largest operator of paid-for visitor attractions in the country, has created the new Framework to set out how the organisation will transform its approach to reflect the principles of responsible tourism, continuing to make its historic sites outstanding attractions that tell Scotland’s story while respecting needs of local communities, visitors, the environment, and of cultural heritage itself.

The Framework sets out three key priority areas for the organisation:

  • Responsibility for the environment - maximising HES’s positive impact on the environment through efforts to decarbonise its tourism operations, integrate circular business models and sustainable procurement, and enable and educate visitors to be responsible consumers.
  • Responsibility for people - co-creating experiences with communities and visitors with wellbeing at their heart, encouraging meaningful interactions and improving access to heritage for all.
  • Responsibility for capacity building - leveraging HES’s lead role to support others, showcasing best-practice and guidance on decarbonisation, and strengthening skills development and local career pathways within the heritage tourism sector.

The Framework identifies opportunities for HES to build its resilience and decrease dependency on a carbon and resource intensive operational model, changing visitor behaviour and numbers, while responding to growing visitor expectation for ethical, low-carbon tourism experiences and driving innovation in new ways to welcome visitors. The organisation aims to do this in partnership with communities to maximise local economic and wellbeing benefits, unlocking community knowledge and increasing cultural awareness, identity and inclusion.

Vanessa Glindmeier, Responsible Tourism Coordinator at HES, said:

As a key player in the Scottish tourism sector, we have an important responsibility to show leadership in the just transition to a low-carbon economy and demonstrate how tourism can be a force for good.

“Some of this is work we’re already demonstrating in the management of our visitor attractions, through initiatives such as the Doune Sustainable Tourism project. This important pilot project is exploring how Responsible Tourism can be delivered, taking a regional destination approach and involving close working with local organisations, the local authority and national agencies such as VisitScotland.

“As we continue to incorporate responsible tourism principles into our activities around tourism this will present some challenges, as all in the industry will face, but we will also see the creation of new and exciting opportunities to transform what we do and deliver real benefits for visitors and communities alike.

“It’s vital that we do this work in partnership with the range of different groups and organisations throughout our communities and the wider tourism sector, to ensure that everyone is empowered to participate in decision making. That’s why it’s so important to gather feedback on our Framework, and we would encourage as many people as possible to take part in our consultation and help shape these plans for the future.”

The public consultation will close on Wednesday 30 November. For more information and to take part, visit the Responsible Tourism Framework consultation page.

About Historic Environment Scotland

  • We are the lead public body charged with caring for, protecting and promoting the historic environment. We will lead on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time.
  • Historic Scotland, Scran, Canmore, The National Collection of Aerial Photography (NCAP), The Engine Shed, Stirling Castle and Edinburgh Castle are sub-brands of HES.
  • Historic Environment Scotland is a registered Scottish Charity. Scottish Charity No. SC045925 
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For further information, please contact:

Claire Mullaney
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
Mobile: 07221 959 962