Tourist attractions should be vying to be greenest for travel - Alastair Dalton

You might think visitors to the Dynamic Earth attraction in Edinburgh would be concerned about the environment.
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But a leaflet about the venue I picked up last week referred to “Easy Parking” before mention of any greener way of getting there, and even referred to a 20 per cent parking discount for visitors.

Among the random selection of tourist publicity material available at Glasgow Central station, it was about the worst example of a organisation failing to highlight the walking, cycling and public transport options above the car.

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The leaflet seemed to encourage customers to drive to Dynamic Earth despite it being in the heart of Scotland’s traffic-congested capital. The attraction’s website is slightly better, listing walking and cycling above car, but on a page called “Directions and Car Park”.

A Dynamic Earth leaflet has offered discounted parking at the Edinburgh city centre venue. Picture: Alan PottingerA Dynamic Earth leaflet has offered discounted parking at the Edinburgh city centre venue. Picture: Alan Pottinger
A Dynamic Earth leaflet has offered discounted parking at the Edinburgh city centre venue. Picture: Alan Pottinger

In stark contrast, the Queen’s Gallery at the Palace of Holyrood next door has the opposite travel priorities in its publicity material. The “How to Get There” section of the leaflet for its current exhibition lists “on foot”, followed by “by bus” and “by tram”, and puts “by car” last.

But I was even more impressed by the Edinburgh International Festival, which has espoused the green travel message for several years in its main programme.

Under “Planning your trip”, it urges festival-goers to “please consider the environmental impact of your chosen form of transport. Travelling by train or bus can often take the same length of time as flying when you consider check-in times”.

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It adds: “We encourage our audience to think green and explore the city on foot, by bike or by public transport wherever possible”. This approach should be obvious – and the norm.

Protest group Extinction Rebellion is noisily highlighting the urgency of action on the environment. But, as I’ve argued before, it’s not governments which will make a difference but the everyday actions of all of us.

Many people find difficulty in relating to the big picture of where our planet is heading. But how we choose to travel is a very significant part of that because transport accounts for one of the biggest sources of emissions and pollution.

Some venues give discounts or offer priority treatment for those visitors who arrive by greener means. It’s not always going to be possible for everybody, or indeed for any of us every single time we make such journeys.

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However, visitor attractions and the tourist industry in general, which is so important to Scotland’s economy, must take seriously its responsibilities to set an example, being a significant transport generator by its very nature.

There are partnerships between attractions and transport operators to incentivise visitors to take non-car options.

But there are also many more opportunities to provide attractive, seamless travel choices. Planning a day trip from Glasgow to Mount Stuart on Bute on Sunday, I came across a combined train and ferry ticket and a combined ferry and attraction ticket, and I’m told there’s also a combined ferry and bus ticket between Rothesay and the house – but alas there’s not one with all four.

Being able to do that – and online, in advance – is what people now expect to be able to do, considering pretty much anything else can be ordered from your mobile phone.

Instead of venues, especially those in urban areas, offering free or discounted parking, regardless of need, they should be vying with each other to have the greenest credentials.