This year, in early September, the Tower bridge opened up to make way for another icon- Turanor- the world’s only boat powered entirely by solar energy. Named “Planet Solar“, this catamaran recently circumnavigated globe and reached the banks of Thames on a balmy day with 37,000 miles under its belt. At the same time “Solar Impulse” an aircraft entirely powered by the sun had just flown across the USA. They both shared the distinction of not emitting even the smallest puff of CO2 during the course of their journey. And by the time this article makes it to the press; preparations would be at their final stages at the “World Solar Challenge”, a race across the Australian continent with a requisite of nothing but solar energy to power the vehicles. Meanwhile, it is most certain that somewhere in the world, an electric car with higher range per charge would be getting designed. The pattern is clear, renewable, sustainable and alternate modes of transport are making headway.
Scotland, rather than missing this technology drive should in fact be leading the way. Unfortunately, it is a country where tourism and renewable energy are often seen not going hand in hand. Prevailing concept is that the rise of one, threatens the existence of the other. Heated debates, occasionally spiced up by “Donald Trump” frequently make the airwaves. However shrouded in this deliberation is an opportunity that has tremendous potential, namely “Green Tourism”.
A look at the Herbridean Island of Eigg explains this term better. Eigg has seen an upshot in the number of visitors since 2008, the very year it became self- sufficient in energy generation through renewable means. Eigg now uses of a mix of hydro, wind and solar to provide a constant supply electricity to the islanders. The background noise of generators on the island is now a thing of past. And people now visit the Island not only for its breathtaking landscape, its serenity but also because of its unique sustainable energy adaptation.
There are many sustainable lodging businesses in Scotland and several others that are joining the “Green tourism” business scheme which promotes sustainability through good waste management and other environmental initiatives.
If the government facilitates transport and infrastructure projects such as electric buses, provides charging points along motorways and even Turanor type ferry services to islands, than the country can offer a full package to attract eco enthusiasts. Furthermore if measures for offsetting carbon such as forestation, carbon sequestration, eco funds are made accessible to everyone than plenty of monetary opportunity exists. As cohesive approach is required between the tourism & hospitality and the transport industry reap the dividends.
The world certainly has an appetite for green-tourism and it is growing with increasing awareness. And Scotland is very well placed to lead the way and become the tourism heaven which is green in every sense of the word.