Over 70 people involved in developing the future of tourism in the Highlands and Islands are attending a conference on Thursday (22 Sept) with leading Scottish and UK sustainable tourism experts.
Sustainable tourism is about taking responsibility for protecting the local environment and culture of an area, while helping to generate future employment for local people within the tourism sector.
With support from a number of partners, the 'Sustainable Tourism: Community Involvement and Staff Development' event is being organised by CIFAL Findhorn, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, at Highlands and Islands Enterprise's Inverness base - Cowan House.
May East, Executive Director of CIFAL Findhorn, says the event will feature successful community led case-studies and boast a range of influential speakers.
She commented: "From policymakers to crofters, community professionals to tourist operators, academic researchers to the media; we all have a vital interest in the current activities, issues, threats and opportunities within the sustainable tourism industry.
"Tourism is a real asset for the Highlands and Islands and we hope that by providing practical real life examples from experts in the fields of low carbon economy, renewable energy systems, sustainable services and green jobs we can help others develop ideas for future initiatives."
Delegates attending are drawn from tourism businesses, voluntary and public sector organisations, and local development officers from across the HIE area who are actively working to create new income streams from their own community's assets. Representatives planning to attend include those from Moray, Lochaber, Argyll and the Islands, Skye, Orkney, and Shetland.
The speakers include:
Tom Brock OBE, Chief Executive of the East Lothian based Scottish Seabird Centre, which has won over 25 awards for sustainability, quality, innovation and customer service. He presents the big picture - key issues, major challenges and golden opportunities.
Dr Andrea Walmsley, until recently an associate and reader at the International Centre for Responsible Tourism, and now senior lecturer at York St John University. Dr Walmsley will show how small and large businesses can really engage staff, as part of an overall sustainability strategy, in nurturing a culture of sustainability throughout the organisation.
Hidden Britain has actively developed and promoted grass roots community-led tourism. Development Manager James Turner will share insights into the successes and challenges of their approach, and bring it all together by outlining what is needed to create a winning sustainable tourism formula.
Florian Delifer, of the United Nations Environment Programme, will highlight the activities of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism launched in Costa Rica in January 2011. Its aim is to transform the way tourism is done worldwide, by promoting sustainability through clear policies, successful projects and the sharing of knowledge and experience.