Sustainable Tourism

Sustainability is key strand in the Tourism Scotland 2020 Strategy. BTfS has sustainable economic growth as our goal, and recognises that business tourism operators should seek to maximise their operational efficiency and environmental performance, minimise impact on the local environment and connect with Scotland’s communities to deliver real benefits.

The Scottish Tourism Alliance has a sustainability statement and other useful links.

Some examples of operators making sustainability work for them are:

Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre: AECC has been awarded ISO 20121 (Event Sustainability Management System) making them the first venue in Scotland to receive the accreditation.   The accreditation describes the building blocks of a management system that will help any event related organisation  to become more socially responsible and reduce its environmental footprint.  More details download here

Fairmont St Andrews' "Kailyaird":   The traditional kitchen garden, also known as a potager in French or in Scotland a kailyaird, is a space more than a humble vegetable plot. It is a source of herbs, vegetables, fruit and much more.  Fairmont St Andrews has now developed their own Kailyaird.


Both staff and guests appreciate the fresh produce grown literally on the doorstep. This process is arguably a more resilient, healthier and definitely tastier option which helps improves the hotel’s sustainability record by lowering food miles and carbon footprint as well as improving the GP - the kitchen is saving £1200 every 2 months.

Head Gardener John Mitchell manages the project and now grows high value crops for the kitchens as well as looking after the 520 acres of hotel grounds. Last year he grew 500 courgettes and numerous bags of salad and herbs at the hotel's Plant Nursery.  This was such a success that John was asked to develop a Kailyaird at the back door of the hotel’s Italian restaurant, La Cucina providing fresh herbs and veg within a few steps. Not surprisingly, the new greenhouse is packed with high value herbs and pea sprouts along with a few more unusual edible flowers.

The old Plant Nursery is also being used to grow lots of salad crops, herbs, courgettes and super large onions.   John plants very densely or uses membrane to keep weeding to a minimum, but also to stop rain splashing soil onto the plants, which is a problem for the kitchens. Some of the more unusual species grown at Fairmont St Andrews include edible flowers, Cucamelons and even a loofa used to clean pots in the kitchens!

Westerwood Hotel (case study):   Westerwood is a significant business tourism venue, located between Glasgow and Stirling, offering 7 flexible meeting rooms, the largest with a maximum capacity for 400 delegates. It is part of QHotels, a mid-sized 4-star hotel group with around 25 properties.

The company has a strong focus on reducing carbon and is considered the best hospitality business involved with the Carbon Trust, based on their annual energy use. In addition they have established a partnership with a biomass company, have installed biomass boilers in three of their properties and have electric hook up points for electric cars in most of their portfolio.

Philip King, Director of Property for QHotels says “QHotels have a commitment to the environment and strive to be as environmentally friendly as possible, making sure we provide an excellent guest experience whilst maintaining our Green credentials. Over the years Green Tourism has helped QHotels to create a culture of sustainability embedded in staff through site audits, support and advice. QHotels has been recognised for its efforts in sustainability and carbon reduction by being awarded the Carbon Standard in 2010, then AA eco hotel group of the year 2011-12.

Some of the measures taken to achieve this have been:
- Targeting and monitoring of energy use with staff awareness and training
- M&E Planned preventative maintenance programmes
- The sensible use of LED lighting in cost effective applications
- The installation of Voltage optimisation equipment in selected and appropriate hotels
- Biomass heating boiler installations at Norton Park, Aldwark Manor & Hellidon Lakes with further installations in the planning stage.
- Boiler optimisation controls
- Electric vehicle charging facilities
- Waste reduction and recycling

Maximillion: a Scottish based creative event management, team building & communications agency that is an exemplar in sustainability. Details of their position on corporate responsibility. And a case study here.

Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel: a meetings hotel that is committed to helping to reduce the impact of their activities on the environment. Social responsibility details here.

Edinburgh International Conference Centre: The EICC believes that event organisers are increasingly concerned with environmental issues and take a leadership role in “greening” the conference and events sector. Details of their sustainable events programme here.

Glasgow: In August 2016 Glasgow became the first city in the UK to be included in a new sustainability ranking of leading international conference destinations – alongside the likes of Houston, Sydney, Kyoto, Barcelona, Geneva, Helsinki, Stockholm and Frankfurt.


The Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index), highlights best practice and promotes responsible business tourism.

Business Tourism For Scotland