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Careers About
Services Projects 27 Insights 38 Podcasts 17 Careers About
Destination Net Zero Action Plan for Scottish Tourism
Strategy & Consulting
Scottish Enterprise
Benchmark analysis
stakeholder interviews
gap analysis
action planning
With VisitScotland being the first national tourism organisation to declare a climate emergency and one of the co-authors of the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism, Scotland has made bold and pioneering commitments for its tourism sector to address the climate emergency. But what does this actually mean in practice? What are the most pressing issues that the government, the business and other partners and stakeholders need to address? What to prioritise? Who to involve, and how to do it? This project was designed to answer these questions with a roadmap to guide public investment.
The Challenge

We were assigned to develop a DNZ Action Plan for the three governmental Enterprise Agencies (Scottish Enterprise, South of Scotland Enterprise, and Highlands and Islands) and Visit Scotland to support the Scottish tourism sector on the challenging but much-needed transition to Net Zero.

Objective 01

Review policy documents, reports and actions to date on Net Zero to identify gaps and priority areas for future actions

Objective 02

Provide insights on the current work and priorities of various government departments around the transition to Net Zero

Objective 03

Review and source inspiration from successful initiatives on climate actions from destinations around the world

Objective 04

Guide public sector agencies on how to support the Scottish tourism industry on the Net Zero journey


Scotland is one of the global leaders in the tourism sector’s response to the climate emergency, with a significant amount of work already being undertaken across the country, and in various parts of the tourism sector.

Our first step therefore, was to review and analyse evidence of the work undertaken to date in Scotland as well as of the global best practice in the journey to Net Zero that would help inform the development of the DNZ Action Plan. This was complemented with the insights gathered from several interviews with the government representatives from various sectors as well as with our previous and current work on climate action in Scotland and globally. Our primary and secondary research helped us identify gaps and then informed the priority areas of focus and actions for 2022-2025 and beyond. After presenting the findings to the Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG), we facilitated the development of the draft Destination Net Zero Action Plan by the project partners. We then conducted another round of interviews and some more desk research to test some of the proposed actions with relevant stakeholders that then informed the development of the final DNZ Action Plan, which was structured around the Glasgow Declaration 5-pathway framework (Measure; Decarbonise; Regenerate; Collaborate; Finance).

Key element 01

Global Benchmarking and Best Practice Case Study Analysis of 35+ case studies on climate actions from destinations around the world.

Key element 02

Policy context analysis in Scotland and the UK to understand the approaches and actions taken in several sectors related to tourism.

Key element 03

10+ one-to-one stakeholder interviews with Scottish government representatives, the enterprise agencies, Visit Scotland, Nature Scot and several NGOs.

Key element 04

Gap Analysis report on 12 Priority Areas for Action, based on the Glasgow Declaration, presented to STERG.

Key element 05

Online action planning workshop with client and partners.

Key element 06

DNZ Action Plan report with six key priority areas for investment.


The project has given us a detailed overview of the policies, commitments and actions (both current and planned) of the public partners in Scotland to fulfill the commitments around the transition to Net Zero in tourism and related sectors such as transport, energy, agriculture and nature conservation. At the same time, thanks to the research on the benchmarking destinations worldwide, we also gained a good understanding of what other governments and DMOs around the world are doing in this space.


Our approach to guide the project partners to work on the draft Action Plan, and then test and cross-check the proposed actions, has resulted in a solid final Plan that has been well-received by government agencies in Scotland.


Our work has helped to spark discussions among various government and non-government organisations in and beyond the tourism sector about the challenges presented by the transition to Net Zero, and the need to cooperate around solutions.


By providing structure, guidance and support to the project partners during the development of the draft Plan, we’ve also helped to build the skills and capacity of Scottish Enterprise to implement and accelerate future Net Zero actions.


Executing the DNZ Action Plan will support the recovery of Scottish tourism destinations, by building resilience and accelerating their pathway to a NetZero tourism future.

Aileen Lamb
Tourism and Creative Economy Manager, Scottish Enterprise
"The work TOPOSOPHY delivered for this project was thoughtful, challenging and well-evidenced. It helped Scottish Enterprise and partners to achieve our goals by effectively listening to our needs, working with us to find the most suitable approach and liaising with us closely to ensure that expectations on both sides were clear and targets were being met."
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