Tourism businesses from across the Glasgow City Region have come together this week in a bid to set Scotland on a path to becoming a responsible visitor destination. VisitScotland and Glasgow Life co-hosted the business event Destination COP: a sustainable legacy for Glasgow’s tourism industry, kindly supported by the venue, voco Grand Central Hotel (6 October), to help prepare operators for the country’s sustainable future. It was also to help capitalise on the huge gathering of political leaders from across the world, the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) taking place in the city at the end of the month. Delegates and tourism leaders of the Glasgow City Region tourism industry also met in person for the first time since before the pandemic.
The Leader of Glasgow City Council, Cllr Susan Aitken, spoke about the opportunity of COP26, to deliver the social and economic recovery of the city from the pandemic, by hosting one of the most important global conferences in recent history. Cllr Aitken said: “This year, we have become one of the world’s most talked-about cities, with a global profile and visibility we’ve rarely had in our history. International firms wanting to harness the profile of COP as they adapt to a changing world are seeking new bases which are ready to embrace the new green economy. We’ve got to be ready to turn that attention into opportunity, to attract tourism, conferences and events, drawn to the city by our global profile and by delivering COP26. And we’ve got to ensure that this talented, innovative, and globally-connected city has the best opportunity possible to become a pioneer in responsible tourism and events, where the solutions to the challenges of sustainability are found.”
VisitScotland’s new Director of Industry & Destination Development, Rob Dickson, chair of the Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG), spoke about the support for the industry to help the reductions to emissions and waste required to stop climate change and the benefits of being a responsible tourism destination. Rob said: “They need to act is driven by the consumer.
Responsible travel is increasingly important to our visitors, and that priority is only accelerating. Tomorrow’s visitors will insist on it. Therefore, it is an integral part of our recovery and business resilience. We do understand the challenges too, and we’re here to support you. But the scale of this task is long term and everyone needs to be on this journey.”
Leanne Scobie, Cluster Director of Sales, voco Grand Central & Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel said: “The voco Grand Central Glasgow launched in April this year and as one of the brand pillars, Sustainability was high on the agenda. It has allowed us to implement a number of green initiatives Each of our 230 bedrooms, for example, has specially made bedding created from 100% recycled materials – the equivalent of 150 plastic bottles per room All of our bathrooms have been refurbished and now have Aerated shower heads which reduces water usage and ensures lower energy consumption for water heating. We now filter all of our water on-site and use reusable glass bottles in guest rooms and for our meeting clients.”
Breakout sessions led by Green Tourism and VisitScotland gave attendees the chance to delve deeper into responsible tourism topics, pick up practical tips and quick wins, ask questions and learn about available support and resources. A third session by the COP26 Get Ready Glasgow team provided advice on preparing for the impacts of the huge numbers of people due to descend on the area in a few weeks’ time.
Delegates were also able to speak to partners one-to-one on a ‘marketplace’ including Glasgow Convention Bureau, VisitScotland and Glasgow Life, also featuring a presence for the Burrell Collection due to open in March next year.
The event was open to businesses in the tourism and events industry in Glasgow, North and South Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, East and West Dunbartonshire. The conference supports Glasgow’s recovery plan for tourism, developed following a review of the Glasgow Tourism and Visitor Plan to 2023.