Decarbonising the Value Chain

Project aims

Our aim is to create a pilot that will be instrumental in helping to develop a sector/global approach for collaborative public and private sector action on value chain emissions in tourism.

Working with a major tour operator (The Travel Corporation) and a destination (Scotland) the Travel Foundation is developing a structured and facilitated process to better understand a company’s emissions at the destination level, and creating a collaborative action plan to reduce and avoid them.


  • The Travel Corporation (TTC) is a tour operator working in 70 countries. In Scotland their Radical Travel Group owns Haggis Adventures and Highland Explorer Tours, and uses 17 coaches/vehicles. They also own three Scottish hotels. Their other brands operating in Scotland include Contiki, Insight Vacations, Luxury Gold, Trafalgar, Red Carnations Hotels and Brendan Vacations. As well as launching a 5-year sustainability strategy in 2020, TTC has recently developed an internal carbon calculator that measures Scope 3 estimates.
  • Visit Scotland is the national tourism organisation for Scotland. Its main aim is to contribute significantly to the advancement of Scottish tourism by giving it a real presence in the global marketplace and benefiting the whole of Scotland.
  • Scottish Enterprise is Scotland’s national economic development agency and a non-departmental public body of the Scottish Government. To deliver a significant, lasting effect on the Scottish economy, it works with partners in the public and private sectors to find and exploit the best opportunities.


Edinburgh scotland

Understanding how to achieve a reduction of carbon emissions within travel and tourism value chains is a huge challenge. Tackling it requires innovation, coordination and cooperation.

For tour operators – many of whom don’t own hotels, airlines and cruise ships – Scope 3* emissions are particularly important because they often form the largest part of their emissions. TTC, however, is an asset heavy tour operator, and is heavily reliant on a mix of owned as well as third-party ground transportation. Scope 3 emissions may arise from transport and distribution, commuting, business travel, electricity, brochures, waste and other aspects of day-to-day operations.

The Travel Foundation, with support from behavioral experts, BehaviorSmart, will begin by looking at current strategies and how emissions are measured. We will create a shared public-private agenda, identifying ‘sweet spots’ for collaboration and knowledge-sharing.

Our project will define ‘collaborative actions’ – those that can be taken forward by the project partners – as well as ‘collective actions – those that will involve wider engagement of the tourismand national ecosystem (e.g. Online Travel Agents, other operators, relevant government Departments and experts), and will serve as a model for other destinations and businesses to follow.


Envisaged actions include:

  • Switching default options within products (making desired options easy or automatic)
  • Measuring the carbon footprint of a trip pre/post interventions, specifically in areas of ground transport, accommodations, meals and activities
  • Capacity building within the value chain (i.e. partner engagement letters, carbon measurement support)
  • Signature demonstration projects

The experiences and learning from this ground-breaking project will also help to shape a Destination Climate Action Blueprint, being developed as part of the Glasgow Declaration for Climate Action in Tourism initiative.

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