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Wild Scotland Guidelines Launched at World Travel Market

A SET of guidelines drawn up by Wild Scotland businesses to highlight best practice in wildlife-watching have been given an international stamp of approval.

The guidelines developed by Wild Scotland, the wildlife tourism operators association, were chosen from an international shortlist and will appear in a special publication called Spotlight as a prime example of best practice to mark the inaugural World Responsible Tourism Day on 14 November.

The Wild Scotland Best Practice Guidelines for Wildlife Watching represent the first industry-approved standards for ensuring wildlife tourism in Scotland is sustainable in the long-term for both rural communities and the environment.

World Responsible Tourism Day coincides with the World Travel Market (WTM) in London, the largest international travel trade event that attracts more than 45,000 delegates from 200 countries.

Caroline Warburton, Wild Scotland’s manager, said: “We are delighted that our Best Practice codes have been included in Spotlight for World Responsible Tourism Day.

“The tour operators and activity providers who are members of Wild Scotland felt that it was important for us as an industry to have clear guidelines on how we should conduct responsible wildlife watching.

“There are many codes of conduct already available, however very few relate to the cumulative effects of commercial wildlife watching or take into the consideration the balance which a wildlife watching company needs to consider between providing an excellent wildlife experience whilst minimising impacts on the animals themselves.

“For us as a small organisation representing small rural businesses in Scotland, this is fabulous opportunity to promote what we do at a major event – and show that even small businesses can make a difference.”

Over 13 years of the event, WTM has become an established business platform for responsible tourism, hosting debates, presentations, seminars, workshops and networking events.

This year, the event has teamed up with the World Tourism Organisation, a United Nations Agency, to announce a new initiative in global and travel tourism – WTM World Responsible Tourism Day.

The Wild Scotland Best Practice Guidelines for Wildlife Watching were produced by wildlife tourism businesses keen to provide clear guidance to other commercial wildlife watching companies on how to provide an enjoyable wildlife watching experience without having a detrimental effect on the wildlife itself.

They were compiled by the association in consultation with their members and represent the first industry-focussed guidelines for wildlife watching in Scotland. Wild Scotland works closely with VisitScotland and other agencies on marketing and other business development issues.

Wild Scotland’s guidelines were chosen from submissions from around the world and demonstrate how tourism businesses in a destination such as Scotland, can take responsibility for their actions and impacts by using their collective experience to establish best practice.

Professor Harold Goodwin, Chair of World Responsible Tourism Day commented: “Wild Scotland shows that responsible tourism is as relevant to developed as to developing destinations. The guidelines represent the tip of the iceberg in terms of the contribution that associations such as Wild Scotland can contribute to engaging small rural businesses and visitors into the responsible tourism agenda. The magazine that we are publishing on WRTD seeks to showcase work that is being done across the world and to prompt the tourism sector – from individuals to multi-national companies – to carry out similar or parallel initiatives. We hope that it will be a focal point of encouragement to motivate everybody and to show what can be achieved and emulated. Others should follow Wild Scotland’s example.”

Copies of ‘Spotlight’ magazine will be available from the World Responsible Tourism Day website.

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