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Visit Inverness Loch Ness wins the Green Destinations ITB Earth Award

Visit Inverness Loch Ness (VILN) has won the prestigious Green Destinations ITB Earth Award. The international award, which recognises global leadership in sustainable tourism in the fight against climate change and environmental degradation, was awarded to the Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) in a ceremony held at ITB Berlin in 2023.

ITB Berlin is the world’s leading and biggest travel trade show which takes place each year and a highlight of the event is the Green Destinations Story Awards. VILN had already been shortlisted in the environment and climate category for its story ‘A view from Nessie: Inverness Loch Ness’ Climate Action Plan’ having been selected for the 2022 Green Destinations Top 100 Stories list in September last year, but the Green Destinations ITB Earth Award is a special award made at the discretion of the panel of international experts in sustainable tourism looking to recognise global pioneers combating climate change and environmental harm.

Albert Salman, President of Green Destinations said:
“The Green Destinations Top 100 Stories competition generates an amazing collection of Good Practice Stories, covering many aspects of sustainable destination management and regeneration.”

“These stories demonstrate that tourism can indeed be a force for positive change and bring tangible benefits to destinations, local people, and the environment.”

“Especially in the current global climate emergency, the need to narrate projects that address climate change is crucial. In response, the ITB Earth Award category has been established to acknowledge destinations that fully pursue these sustainable and future-oriented strategies, recognising them as leading examples for other destinations and managers.”

“I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to Inverness Loch Ness for winning this year’s ITB Earth Award. Their Story, “A view from Nessie: Inverness Loch Ness’ Climate Action Plan” (and project), fully embodies the award’s meaning, holistically tackling local climate issues and concerns, creating a robust plan, and actively engaging local stakeholders.”

Accepting the award for VILN, Michael Golding, CEO at Visit Inverness Loch Ness said:

“To be recognised at the world’s biggest travel show as the leading global destination organisation for tackling the climate emergency is incredible, and a very proud moment for our team and board. We are committed to being a leader on this journey, working with our business members and stakeholders, to fulfil Scotland’s ambition to be leaders in 21st Century Tourism on the way to reaching net zero by 2045.” 

Marc Crothall, Chief Executive at the Scottish Tourism Alliance said:

“This is a truly remarkable, globally important accolade which highlights the strength of commitment of Visit Inverness Loch Ness and Scotland’s tourism industry in delivering our national strategic ambition to build responsible tourism for a sustainable future.  Our industry vision, to be a world leader in 21st century tourism has propelled us through the challenges of recent years and we very much hope global destinations look towards Scotland as leading the way in sustainable tourism.”

Lord Thurso, Chairman of VisitScotland said: “This is a real coup for Visit Inverness Loch Ness (VILN) as a destination but also for Scotland as a whole. My huge congratulations to everyone involved.

“Tackling climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing Scottish tourism and yet the transition to responsible tourism also presents opportunities for us all. 

“We want to inspire future generations to say that Scottish tourism led the way to help preserve and enhance the natural and built assets that benefit communities, businesses and our visitors. VILN has worked hard on its climate action plan to ably demonstrate this to the panel of international experts. 

“By working together, we can help Scotland become a world-class destination, and the best destination for responsible tourism​.”

Bryony Beck, Destination Development Manager, said: “I hope that this award and our climate action plan inspires not only our members but the whole region of Inverness and Loch Ness to make meaningful steps towards reducing our carbon footprint.”

Funded as part of the Destination Net Zero programme and created with help from VisitScotland and the Travel Foundation, the Climate Action Plan helps the destination monitor, evaluate, and improve its environmental impact. The plan also shows how the destination will meet the five pathways of the Glasgow Declaration and showcases which of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals are being met and which ones are being targeted.

In addition, the team from VILN was also thrilled to be shortlisted in the environment and climate category for the Green Destinations Story Awards. A summary of the TBID’s story can be read below:

A view from Nessie: Inverness Loch Ness’ Climate Action Plan

Popping her head above the waters of Loch Ness, Nessie reached out to Visit Inverness Loch Ness (VILN) about her concerns for the area’s climate. She mentioned how well VILN had got on with reducing its carbon footprint and how impressed she was with the organisation’s recent carbon neutral status. Nessie’s main concern was raising the issue of climate change and tourism within the Inverness Loch Ness destination. The VILN team decided to help Nessie and found that creating and implementing a Climate Action Plan (CAP) for the destination could be the way forward and would help preserve Nessie’s home for generations.

In the last six months, VILN has also been the proud winner of UKInbound DMO of the Year, the RBS Climate Champion at the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards and listed in the Green Destinations Top 100 Stories.

VILN’s journey to Berlin will be offset via its partnership with Trees for Life.