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      Our Vision for Sustainable Tourism

      Caring for the places we love.

      Making the Right Choices

      In choosing Wilderness Scotland you can be sure that you are travelling with a company that takes its commitment to sustainable tourism seriously. We have been dedicated to operating in as sustainable a way as possible since the very beginning of our company and, in addition to our Conservation Contribution Scheme, we provide financial and volunteering support to a range of great projects in Scotland and, occasionally, further afield.

      Our vision for the 21st Century is one in which tourism can play a major role in helping people to enjoy, experience and connect with the amazing natural environments in which we live.

      Our commitment has been recognised in many awards over the years including twice winning the Best Green Tour Operator in the World Travel Awards. Since 2006 we have held a Gold Award from the Green Tourism Business Scheme – recognised as the world’s most credible Sustainable Tourism Programme.

      Head of Guides & Training, Myles Farnbank, shares some thoughts on our vision for sustainable tourism. Produced following our award of World’s Leading Green Tour Operator in 2014.

      World’s Leading Green Tour Operator

      Our Projects

      While the Conservation Contribution Scheme is the focus of our support for environmental conservation, we also engage with several other projects each year which embody our spirit and passion for adventure in wild places.

      Cairngorm Schools Ski Access Programme Read More

      Working with the long-established Cairngorm Ski Club, our support for the ski access program provides high school children with the opportunity to ski on their local mountain during the spring term.

      For one day each week (yes, during term time!), pupils from Kingussie High School and Grantown Grammar School can sign up to ski at Cairngorm Mountain with transport, ski passes and equipment taken care of. The focus for this project is children who might not otherwise get the opportunity to enjoy the magic and fun of skiing, as well as providing additional training for more experienced skiers looking to compete regionally and nationally.

      Wilderness Scotland provides financial support to the programme each year, loans vehicles free of charge to transport the pupils and occasionally (and always when conditions are great!) provides volunteer support on the mountain.

      Start Date: December 2016
      Project Coordinator: Paul Easto

      Spirit of Scotland - The Family Holiday Association Read More

      As part of the Spirit of Scotland initiative led by the national tourism agency, VisitScotland, we have partnered with The Family Holiday Association to provide vulnerable and disadvantaged families with an adventurous short break in the Highlands.

      Working with local accommodation providers, Wilderness Scotland provides a day of adventure in the Cairngorms National Park for several families each year. These adventures including canoeing on Loch Morlich or mountain biking through Rothiemurchus Forest.

      These are families that are on low income and are struggling with some of the toughest challenges that life can bring. They haven’t had a break for several years and in many cases, the families have never had a break together at all.

      The breaks are distributed by the Family Holiday Association, which works with local charities and support organisations in Scotland to identify the families that will benefit most from the breaks. You can read more about the FHA and initiative here.

      Start Date: September 2016
      Project Coordinator: Tom Devereux

      The Big 60 Read More

      The Big 60

      The objective of the Big 60 is simple – The Wilderness Office Team will dedicate 60 days to volunteering each year.

      This commitment involves each member of the Wilderness Team contributing 2 days of voluntary service to take place during work time. We started off with the Big 40 project 2 years ago, this became the Big 50 last year and, with our office team growing to 30 people, the Big 60 is now the target.

      There are no restrictions on the type of volunteering and recent work has taken the team in some interesting and rewarding directions both close to home and further afield. Recent volunteering efforts include:

      Footpath repair and renewal in the Cairngorms National Park
      Native reforestation work with the RSPB
      Mentoring for young adults in Inverness
      Training and development for tourism businesses in the Balkans
      Driving for the community car scheme in Aviemore
      Start Date: January 2014
      Project Coordinator: Melanie Clouston

      Operating Policies

      The Environment

      Through the provision of engaging experiences from wilderness to wildlife, we are firmly of the view that positive tourism experiences have the capacity to foster a strong connection with the natural world and promote more sustainable living in these challenging times we currently face.

      We never forget that first and foremost our adventures are about great holiday experiences so, don’t worry, we won’t be holding evening lectures and workshops on embedded carbon and alternative energy! However, you can expect our experienced and knowledgeable guides to develop your understanding of the amazing environment in which we live.

      Our business activities and trip operations are purposefully designed to minimise environmental impact and operate on a low carbon basis. For example, all of our group holidays start at mainline train stations and we keep the use of motorised vehicles to a minimum. We are all about experiencing the wilderness using human power, be that on foot or by bike, kayak, canoe and sailing boat.


       

      Happy puffins with plump tummies, full of fish.

      Local Communities & Economies

      A Wilderness Scotland experience is defined not only by its environmental qualities, as integral to the experience is an involvement and interaction with local communities.

      We consistently receive feedback from clients that the encounters and relationships with the local population are one of the most enjoyable and memorable elements of a trip to the Highlands and Islands. We strongly support this view and recognise the wonderful contribution and added value that communities, culture and customs make to the tourism experience.

      We are absolutely committed to engaging local businesses throughout our entire operation and ensuring that the economic benefits are distributed in this equitable way. As well as providing a great service to our clients, by working with local partners it also means that our groups always receive a warm welcome from the locals wherever we go.


       

      Clients meeting a local Harris tweed producer in the Outer Hebrides.

      In the Office

      As part of our business wide commitment, we’re working hard to do all the good stuff that any responsible company should do. This approach is based upon the familiar mantra of reduction, re-use and recycle.

      The good people at the Green Tourism Business Scheme have helped us along the way setting the standards which form part of our Gold Award accreditation. You can read more about the scheme and what it involves here http://www.green-tourism.com/business/

      Our new office snug for breakouts and reading.

       

      Tourism and Climate Change

      In recent times, much has been written about the contribution of air travel to carbon dioxide emissions and the corresponding effects on climate change. This (like virtually all tourism businesses) presents a dilemma for us and we have thought long and hard about what our policy on this issue should be.

      Some commentators have suggested that what is required is for all of us to simply give up air travel. In our view, this approach is neither valid nor realistic. It ignores the critically important point that tourism is the world’s single biggest industry and putting an end to all international trade would have disastrous economic and social impacts. It would also have major environmental impacts as ecosystems and habitats, previously protected through tourism activity, would be destroyed for resource gain.

      While this may not seem so relevant to the UK, the lifeblood of the Highlands and Islands is tourism (13% of the economy) and its sustainable future depends upon economic success in this sector.

      We believe that there is a “middle way”, whereby we can all take significant steps to deliver meaningful action on climate change. In accordance with the advice of The Carbon Trust, our climate change strategy is based upon the following business actions:

      • To encourage clients to access the start/end point of our trips by public transport (the meeting point for all of our group holidays is at train stations – for full details on how to get to Scotland by train, please see the Travel to Scotland section.)
      • To deliver a low-carbon holiday experience, relating to the activity, transportation, accommodation and other services used.
      • To elsewhere reduce our energy consumption and consequent carbon emissions throughout our business, wherever possible.
      • To work with all of our suppliers to reduce carbon emissions and to develop new low-carbon products, wherever possible.
      • To focus our trips on those parts of Scotland where tourism will deliver positive socio-economic and environmental benefits.
      • To financially offset all unavoidable carbon emissions which are generated by the company.

      Our hope is that if many businesses, irrespective of the type of industry, choose to adopt the same approach, we can make a significant step towards tackling climate change in a realistic way.

      Award-Winning Journeys

      National Geographic Adventure
      National Geographic Adventure

      Best Adventure Travel Companies

      Scottish Tourist Board
      Scottish Tourist Board

      Visit Scotland 5 Star Activity Provider

      Pure Life Experiences
      Pure Life Experiences

      High-End Experiential Travel

      World Travel Awards
      World Travel Awards

      Leading Green Tour Operator

      National Geographic Traveller
      National Geographic Traveller

      50 tours of a lifetime

      News & Offers

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