Climate change will be good for Scottish tourism

June 19, 2010 : General Team Building

Everyone is anxious about the consequences of climate change. Indeed, last week I attended a Scottish Government consultation on “Preparing for Climate Change” or what they refer to as the “Adaptation Framework”. At this we debated the need to create contingency plans around the business disruption from landslides, floods, power interruption and God only knows what else, all because of climate change.  Very prudent and necessary, so how on earth can I entitle this blog “Climate change will be good for Scottish tourism”?

I recently held an Indie screening of “The Age of Stupid” inviting 45 illustrious guests – the great and the good of the business tourism sector garnished with a healthy sprinkling of environmental movers and seasoned with some sustainably minded government shakers.

For those of you who don’t know, “The Age of Stupid” is just one of a series of climate change narratives following in the footsteps of DiCaprio’s “The Eleventh Hour” and Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth”. But while its predecessors set out to make the case for climate change by using scientific and climatic evidence, “Stupid” starts with the pretext that we all accept climate change as a matter of fact with no more convincing required. “Stupid”‘s perspective sets out a hypothetical future where, as a consequence of climate change, civilisation is effectively terminated.  It’s a stark statement of what will happen if we don’t respond to our greatest challenge ever.

But the evening was more than just night out at the flicks. I wanted to invite an authoritative panel (see my last blog for the cast) to explore the impact climate change will have on tourism & hospitality in the next ten years, and debate this with an audience of the aforementioned great and good, movers and shakers. The discussion was stimulating and thought provoking but what was even more interesting was some of the results from the survey I dispatched the next day.

Highlights of the survey were:

Do you think climate change will affect Scottish tourism in the next ten years?

  • No – 0%
  • Yes, positively – 29%
  • Yes, negatively – 42%
  • Not sure – 29%

Do you think climate change will effect your organisation’s contribution to Scottish tourism in the next ten years?

  • No – 3%
  • Yes, positively – 35%
  • Yes, negatively – 21%
  • Not sure – 28%
  • N/A – 14%

Interesting? Absolutely!  Almost a third believes that climate change will have a positive effect on Scottish tourism and over a third believes it will be good for their organisations!

Then the prophetic question around adaptation:

As a consequence of climate change, in the next ten years do you think your organisation will need to change any of the following?

  • Product – 50%
  • Target market – 66%
  • Delivery of service – 80%

If the industry believes that such a fundamental change will be required in their product, service and target market then the industry needs to respond.  Whilst the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise might be taking the initiative in preparing for climate change through adaptation frameworks, I believe the industry needs to take the lead in identifying the positive opportunities that climate change might bring and how we need to adapt to capitalise on those opportunities.  The tourism and hospitality sector is littered with a myriad of representative governing bodies, trusts, associations and groups who all work in relative isolation but all share a common sector interest.  Now would be a good time to bring these groups together to consider the consequences of climate change, identify the strategic opportunities and how to adjust industry and organisational product, service and market.

Download full survey results:

Related links:

Climate Projections: UK Climate Impact Programme

“The Age of Stupid” website

“The Eleventh Hour” website 

“Inconvenient Truth” website


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