World’s first UNESCO Trail wins European sustainability award

Edinburgh Castle. (Photo: VisitScotland/ Kenny Lam)

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THE world’s first UNESCO Trail that connects 13 unique sites across Scotland has received an international award in recognition of its contribution to sustainable development.

Scotland’s UNESCO Trail received the Santagata Foundation Award for UNESCO Territories 2022 at the RO.ME Museum Exhibition in Rome on November 16th.

The award recognises contribution to sustainable development projects within a UNESCO designated site or community.

Scotland’s UNESCO Trail, a dedicated digital trail, was launched last year to connect 13 place-based designations across the country, including World Heritage Sites, Biospheres, Global Geoparks and Creative Cities to form a dedicated digital trail.

The trail was designed specifically to support the ambitions of the national strategy to make Scotland a world-leading responsible tourism destination by encouraging 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 Wanderlust Sustainability Award at the Wanderlust Travel Awards in London on Tuesday 8th November. The award celebrates action and innovation for sustainable travel, with the trail receiving a Sustainability Initiative Gold Award in recognition of its responsible tourism principles.

Scotland is the first nation in the world to create such a pioneering initiative which was developed through a unique 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 full list of designations included in Scotland’s UNESCO Trail are the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere, Wester Ross UNESCO Biosphere, Dundee UNESCO City of Design, Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature, Glasgow UNESCO City of Music, Shetland UNESCO Global Geopark, North West Highlands UNESCO Global Geopark, the Forth Bridge UNESCO World Heritage Site, Frontiers of the Roman Empire: Antonine Wall UNESCO World Heritage Site, New Lanark UNESCO World Heritage Site, Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site, Old and New Towns of Edinburgh UNESCO World Heritage Site, St Kilda World Heritage Site.  

For more information, visit www.visitscotland.com/unesco-trail 

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