Now Scotland’s world-first Unesco Trail has received a special award in recognition of its contribution to sustainable development.
The trail, which links 13 destinations countrywide, including World Heritage Sites, Biospheres, Global Geoparks and Creative Cities, to form a dedicated digital journey, has received the Santaganta Foundation Award for Unesco Territories 2022.
The honour was conferred at a ceremony in Rome yesterday, honouring the country’s work to encourage visitors to stay longer, visit all year round, make sustainable travel choices, explore more widely and at the right time of the year, and, in turn, contribute to the sustainable quality of life of those communities surrounding the designated sites.
Scotland’s Unesco Trail also received the Sustainability Award at the Wanderlust Travel Awards in London last week – an award that celebrates action and innovation for sustainable travel.
Scotland is the first nation in the world to create such a pioneering initiative, which was developed through a partnership between VisitScotland, the Scottish Government, the UK National Commission for Unesco, Historic Environment Scotland, NatureScot, the National Trust for Scotland, and Scotland’s 13 Unesco designations.
Tourism Minister Ivan McKee said: “These awards recognise the Scottish Government’s mission to grow the value and enhance the benefits of sustainable tourism across Scotland, as set out in our tourism Strategy Scotland 2030.
“The trail is helping visitors to discover Scotland’s fascinating Unesco designated sites, while encouraging them to make responsible and sustainable choices through environmentally friendly travel and partnership with green accredited businesses.”
Laura Davies, UK ambassador to Unesco, said: “This digital trail is the first to bring all Scotland’s wonderful designations together into a single space – the World Heritage Sites, of course, but also the Biosphere Reserves, Geoparks and Creative Cities: important for the visitor experience, but even more so for the 13 designations and their communities.
Grounded and global – you don’t get more Unesco than that – and I am delighted to see this recognised through the prestigious Santagata Foundation award!”
Professor Anne Anderson, non-executive director at the UK National Commission for Unesco and VisitScotland board member, said: “It is fantastic to receive this recognition for Scotland’s Unesco Trail, in particular for the sustainable credentials of this project.
“The development of Scotland’s Unesco Trail has been a great example of collaboration to create a unique visitor experience firmly rooted throughout with responsible tourism ethics.
Across Scotland, these Unesco designations are local partnerships and communities that protect and promote their outstanding creativity, cultural heritage and the natural environment.
“The trail aims to inspire visitors from around the world to rediscover Scotland’s unique treasures, know they are travelling sustainably, and contribute to the communities who maintain these precious places.”
The trail launched last year, aiming to take visitors on a cultural journey across the country, experiencing everything from history to science, music, design and literature to nature and cityscapes.
The digital trail – available at www.visitscotland.com/unesco-trail – “showcases the breadth of culturally astounding Unesco designations on offer across Scotland, providing information and inspiration to visitors across the world”, VisitScotland said, adding: “It also celebrates businesses and communities that are committed to responsible tourism business practices and promotes sustainable travel options.”
Scotland is the first nation in the world to create such a pioneering initiative.
The trail links Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Unesco Biosphere, Wester Ross Unesco Biosphere, Dundee Unesco City of Design, and Edinburgh Unesco City of Literature.
It also goes on to link Glasgow Unesco City of Music, Shetland Unesco Global Geopark, North West Highlands Unesco Global Geopark, and the Forth Bridge UnescoWorld Heritage Site.
Also featured in the groundbreaking project are the “Frontiers of the Roman Empire” the Antonine Wall Unesco World Heritage Site, New Lanark Unesco World Heritage Site, Heart of Neolithic Orkney Unesco World Heritage Site, the Old and New Towns of EdinburghUnesco World Heritage Site, and St Kilda World Heritage Site.
Professor Anne Anderson, non-executive director at the UK National Commission for Unesco, said on the launch of the trail: “Scotland’s Unesco Trail is a world first, bringing together Scotland’s world-class cultural and natural heritage.
“Not only this, the trail does so within Unesco’s broader aims of building peace and sustainable development. Across Scotland, these Unesco designations are local partnerships and communities that protect and promote their outstanding creativity, cultural heritage and the natural environment.
“By partaking in the trail, visitors from around the world will rediscover Scotland’s unique treasures, know they are travelling sustainably, and contribute to the communities who maintain these precious places.
“From the stunning mountains of the northwest Highlands, the heart of Neolithic Orkney, the vibrant music scenes of Glasgow, to Edinburgh’s outstanding heritage and literature festivals, there is a wealth of people and places waiting to welcome you.”
Francesca Osowska, CEO of NatureScot and chair of the Trail Steering Group, said: “The trail is a hugely exciting global first, inspiring visitors to Scotland”.