Scotland launches new national trail to showcase world-class sites and landscapes

A new national trail showcasing Scotland’s world-class natural landscapes, cultural cities and historic buildings, landmarks and monuments has been unveiled.

Friday, 15th October 2021, 4:55 am
Kintail is an area of mountains in the Wester Ross biosphere. Picture: Liam Anderstrem

Tourism and heritage organisations have joined forces with the Scottish Government to raise awareness of 13 sites officially recognised by UNESCO for their international importance.

The world’s first official “UNESCO Trail,” which has been created under a wider initiative to promote responsible tourism in Scotland, has been launched ahead of the staging of the COP 26 climate change summit in Glasgow.

Aimed at helping to transforming Scotland into an international leader in responsible tourism, the trail draws together for the first time all of Scotland's UNESCO-recognised world heritage sites, cities of culture, biospheres and geoparks.

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The Summer Isles, in Assynt, are part of the geopark in the north-west Highlands. Picture: VisitScotland/Kenny Lam

It has been unveiled weeks after the country kick-started efforts to bring international visitors back by encouraging them to embrace “slow travel,” spend more time in the one place, seek out lesser-known destinations, and explore environmentally-friendly options for travel to and around Scotland.

Scotland’s UNESCO Trail will encourage visitors to seek out and consider extended stays in the north-west Highlands, the Shetland Isles, Neolithic Orkney, Galloway and southern Ayrshire.

Other highlights include the architecture of the Forth Bridge, the purpose-built 18th century mill village at New Lanark, the isolated archipelago of St Kilda in the North Atlantic Ocean, and the remains of the Antonine Wall, which stretched across the country and date back to around 142 AD.Glasgow’s official UNESCO status as a city of music, Dundee’s design city status and Edinburgh’s literary and publishing heritage are all being celebrated as part of the new campaign.

Professor Anne Anderson, non-executive director at the UK National Commission for UNESCO said: “The trail is a world-first bringing together Scotland’s world-class cultural and natural heritage.

The Ring of Brodgar is at the heart of Neolithic Orkney. Picture: VisitScotland/Kenny Lam

"By partaking in the trail, visitors from around the world will rediscover Scotland’s unique treasures, know they are travelling sustainably, and contribute to the communities who maintain these precious places.”

The new trail, which is being funded to the tune of £360,000 by the Scottish Government to get it off the ground, is being promoted via a dedicated website and a short film which have both been launched today.

Rob Dickson, VisitScotland’s director of industry and development, said: “The innovative trail not only showcases the breadth of culturally astounding UNESCO designations we have across Scotland but also the exceptional visitor experiences this trail creates.

“VisitScotland is focused on the recovery of the industry, building a destination and visitor experience

The Scottish Storytelling Centre is at the heart of Edinburgh's literary and publishing quarter on the Royal Mile. Picture: VisitScotland/Kenny Lam

which allows tourism and events to flourish now and in the future.

"We’ll continue to work with, and support, businesses to ensure we rebuild this vital part of Scotland’s economy.

“Tourism is a force for good – creating economic and social value in every corner of Scotland and enhancing the well-being of everyone who experiences it.”

Scottish tourism minister Ivan McKee said: “Tourism is key to Scotland’s economy and as we begin to recover from the pandemic, this collaboration could not be more timely. It will help to attract and welcome both domestic and international visitors again.

The Wood of Cree, in Newton Stewart, is the largest ancient wood in southern Scotland. Picture: Liam Anderstrem

"As we approach COP26, I’m pleased to see that the UNESCO trail has sustainability at its core and will help visitors make responsible and sustainable choices by highlighting green accredited businesses and promoting environmentally friendly travel.”

The Isle of Whithorn has a strong association with St Ninian, who brought Christianity to Scotland. Picture: VisitScotland/Kenny Lam