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Sustainable Tourism

Caring for the places we love

Making the Right Choices

In choosing the Wilderness Group as your in-country partner and DMC, 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 our beginning in 2001. In addition to our pioneering Conservation Contribution Scheme for our direct customers, we provide financial and volunteering support to a range of great projects in Scotland, England and Ireland.

Our vision has always been 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. For over 15 years we have held a Gold Award from the Green Tourism Business Scheme – recognised as the world’s most credible Sustainable Tourism Programme. We’re also passionate about looking after our people too and have been recognised as one of the UK’s Best Places to Work.

Find out more about the Wilderness Group’s commitment to sustainable tourism below.

World’s Leading Green Tour Operator

Head of Guides & Training, Myles Farnbank, shares some thoughts on our vision for sustainable tourism.

Wilderness Climate Emergency Declaration

Our business was created to share our passion for the inspiration, spirit and value of the natural environment. What we didn’t know when we started our business many years ago, was how significant the threat of a changing climate would become. While we have always sought to run an environmentally sustainable business (and have been independently recognised several times for doing so), we feel the time has now come to ramp up the action, work harder and act more creatively to respond to the climate emergency with renewed focus and energy.

The Tourism Industry

Alongside other industries, tourism plays a contributing role to the climate crisis and we acknowledge this requires an urgent need for change across the industry. The paradox is that travel and tourism can be an amazingly positive force for good. Well-managed, sustainable tourism supports local economic development, sustains local communities and traditions, and shines a light on nature and wildlife conservation.

Built upon this philosophy, our mission is to maximise these positive benefits of tourism while seeking to minimise the negative impacts. As part of our Climate Emergency Declaration, we aim to further evolve our low carbon approach to business and become climate positive by the end of 2022. What does being “climate positive” actually mean and is it even possible?

Becoming Climate Positive

Our work over the past two decades has taken us a long way to this “climate positive” goal already but there remains a lot of work to be done. The recent design and development of our own  Net Zero HQ, powered by renewable energy on a brownfield site in the Cairngorms National Park is a sign of our commitment. Over the next 12 months, we’ll continue to push harder and respond faster, to make further reductions to both our direct and indirect carbon emissions, based upon the most extensive measurement and benchmarking exercise we have ever done.

Further reduction is our first and overriding priority and we will continue to seek out innovative methods and approaches to achieve this across all aspects of our business. However, where reductions simply cannot be made, we will be working with Climate Neutral Now – the United Nations Carbon Offset platform to purchase carbon credits in projects which reduce, avoid or remove certified emissions from the atmosphere. Our aim by the end of 2021, is to purchase credits that not only offset our unavoidable emissions but additionally invest in projects which deliver a positive carbon impact.

This is an ambitious goal that will challenge our commitment, creativity and collective resources. In making the commitment to be climate positive, we are not totally sure it’s achievable but we are 100% focused on trying. Even if we are successful, we recognise that the overall contribution in global terms will be absolutely minute. However, as a business that feels passionately about our planet, we don’t doubt for a minute that it’s absolutely the right thing to do. We commit to updating on our progress regularly and reporting on our website on an annual basis.

Find out More at Tourism Declares

Sustainability Partnerships and Ethos

Across each of our consumer-facing brands, we have developed strong partnerships focussed around our core values. Where sustainability is of particular interest to your clients, our partnerships can provide powerful opportunities to give back, something which embodies our collective spirit and passion for adventure in wild places.

Conservation Contribution Scheme Read More

A cornerstone of our commitment as a sustainable travel company is our pioneeting Conservation Contribution Scheme – this cross-brand, consumer-facing scheme was designed to help conserve and enhance those natural assets which are vital to our environmental, community and economic wellbeing.

At the end of 2017 we signed a new partnership with the John Muir Trust to become a Peak Partner of their organisation. The essence of the partnership is that Wilderness Scotland would make a £5,000 minimum donation to the trust per year, and in return for providing this minimum amount, we work with the trust to decide which projects our funds would support.

In Ireland a donation is made to the BurrenBeo Trust and used to further their conservation projects, such as dry stone walling, archaeological surveys, scrub management, monitoring species, managing the landscape and fighting against invasive species. In addition, the BurrenBeo is involved in running workshops for children and adults, organising volunteer groups, and connecting and educating local communities to generate a sense of informed pride in their heritage and landscape.

The funds to support these partnerships come from our Conservation Contribution Scheme – an optional payment that is made directly to us by our clients as part of their booking. Since the launch of the scheme we, together with our valued clients, have collectively raised over £50,000 for the John Muir Trust, BurrenBeo Trust and other conservation organisations.

Leave No Trace Read More

The Wilderness Group and its brands are fully committed to the principles of low impact travel. We are a proud partner of the Leave No Trace Centre for Outdoor Ethics, which enhances our commitment to responsible activity in all of the locations in which we operate.

We continually commit to ensuring our guiding and office team are trained in and practice the principles of Leave No Trace as outlined below:

  1. Plan Ahead & Prepare
  2. Be Considerate of Others
  3. Respect Farm Animals and Wildlife
  4. Travel and Camp on Durable Ground
  5. Leave What You Find
  6. Dispose of Waste Properly
  7. Minimise the Effects of Fire
The Big 60 Read More

The objective of the Big 60 is simple – The Wilderness Office Teams 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
  • Seal Rescue Ireland
  • Training and development for tourism businesses in the Balkans
  • Driving for the community car scheme in Aviemore

 

Making a Difference

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.

 

Local Communities & Economies

Integral to the experiences delivered by the Wilderness Group’s brands, is an involvement and interaction with local communities.

We consistently receive feedback from clients that the encounters and relationships with local people are one of the most enjoyable and memorable elements of a trip with us. That sentiment is widely shared by our partners who recognise the wonderful contribution and added value that communities, culture and customs make to the travel 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 your clients, by working with local partners it also means that our groups always receive a warm welcome from the locals wherever we go.

 

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 Green Tourism Business Scheme and what it involves here.

Award Winning Experiences

Best Adventure
Travel Companies
Green Tourism
Gold Approved
High-End
Experiential Travel
Leading Green
Tour Operator
50 tours
of a lifetime

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