– Scottish Parliament written question – answered on 17 May 2006.

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Photo of Maureen Watt Maureen Watt Scottish National Party

Question S2W-25629

To ask the Scottish Executive what value eco-tourism contributes to the Scottish economy.

Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour

The term eco-tourism can cover a very wide spectrum of tourism activities related to the appreciation of Scotland’s environment in one form or another. At one end of that spectrum are carefully planned visits to view our superb wildlife; Scotland is regarded as Europe’s top wildlife watching destination, and this market sector is increasingly popular. Many more visitors come to enjoy our breathtaking scenery at first hand, for example by engaging in hill walking for all or part of their trip. At the other end of the spectrum, eco-tourism can refer to the growing number of visitors who want to be assured that all aspects of their stay, whether in a city or in the country, are environmentally sustainable.

It is therefore difficult to gauge the value of eco-tourism to the economy. However, VisitScotland’s Tourism Attitudes Survey for 2005 revealed that 89% of people questioned said the natural environment was very or quite important in choosing Scotland as a holiday destination, with 65% saying that it had become more important in recent years. 37% said scenery was the main attraction about Scotland that prompted them to book a holiday here, while 14% were specifically interested in nature/wildlife, although as many as 51% said they had participated in a wildlife-watching activity while here on holiday. It is clear therefore that eco-tourism in whatever form it might take is fundamentally important to the overall tourism economy, which is worth over £4.5 billion a year in revenue terms to the Scottish economy.

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