The world’s first ever UNESCO trail, bringing together some of Scotland’s most iconic, diverse and culturally significant sites including the Forth Bridge, has been launched.
Scotland’s UNESCO Trail connects the country’s 13 place-based UNESCO designations, including World Heritage Sites, Biospheres, Global Geoparks and Creative Cities to form a dedicated digital trail. It aims to take visitors on a cultural journey across the country experiencing everything from history to science, music, design and literature to nature and cityscapes.
Designed specifically to support ambitions to make Scotland a world-leading responsible tourism destination, Scotland’s UNESCO Trail encourages visitors to stay longer, visit all year round, make sustainable travel choices, explore more widely and at the right time of the year, and in turn, contribute to the sustainable quality of life of those communities surrounding the designated sites.
The digital trail – which is available on www.visitscotland.com/unesco-trail - showcases the breadth of culturally astounding UNESCO designations on offer across Scotland, providing information and inspiration to visitors across the world. It also celebrates businesses and communities that are committed to responsible tourism business practices and promotes sustainable travel options.
Scotland is the first nation in the world to create such a pioneering initiative. Developed through a unique partnership between VisitScotland, the Scottish Government, the UK National Commission for UNESCO, Historic Environment Scotland, NatureScot, the National Trust for Scotland and Scotland’s 13 UNESCO designations, the project has received £360,000 funding from the Scottish Government to support the strategy for the sustainable recovery of Scottish tourism.
Tourism Minister Ivan McKee officially launched the trail in Dundee, the UNESCO City of Design, by unveiling a specially commissioned design by illustrator and printmaker, Jagoda Sadowska, a graduate of the city’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art. The design has been printed onto a door, which will be incorporated into the city’s Open Close tour as a permanent legacy of the trail.
Tourism Minister Ivan McKee said: “Scotland has always been a pioneering nation and I’m pleased to see we’re leading the way with the world’s first UNESCO digital trail. Tourism is key to Scotland’s economy and as we begin to recover from the pandemic, this collaboration between the Scottish Government, VisitScotland, NatureScot and UNESCO could not be more timely.
"Supported by £360,000 of Scottish Government funding, the UNESCO Trail will help to attract and welcome both domestic and international visitors again, by showcasing Scotland’s unique cultural heritage and many UNESCO sites. 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.”
Francesca Osowska, CEO of NatureScot and Chair of Scotland’s UNESCO Trail Steering Group, said:“The Trail is a hugely exciting global first, inspiring visitors to Scotland to journey through its unique natural and cultural heritage. All the designations in the Trail have a distinctive story to tell and we hope that, whether people visit just one, or travel to all the sites, they will be wowed by what they see.
"Responsible tourism and greener travel are at the heart of our ambitions for the UNESCO Trail. This will lead to a more sustainable economy and will help to create better places for people to live and visit in every corner of Scotland. This is so essential as we work to tackle the nature loss and climate change crises and prepare to host COP26.”
VisitScotland Director of Industry and Destination Development, Rob Dickson, said: “There is no other journey like Scotland’s UNESCO Trail and we want to inspire visitors to take a once-in-a-lifetime experience across the country, delving into its history and heritage, experiencing the wonder of its natural assets and the magic that inspires art, music and literature. 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 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. "
Professor Anne Anderson, Non-Executive Director at the UK National Commission for UNESCO said: “Scotland’s UNESCO Trail is a world-first bringing together Scotland’s world-class cultural and natural heritage. Not only this, the Trail does so within UNESCO’s broader aims of building peace and sustainable development.”
“Across Scotland, these UNESCO designations are local partnerships and communities that protect and promote their outstanding creativity, cultural heritage and the natural environment. 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”.
“From the stunning mountains of the northwest Highlands, the heart of Neolithic Orkney, the vibrant music scenes of Glasgow, to Edinburgh’s outstanding heritage and literature festivals, there is a wealth of people and places waiting to welcome you.”
Artist Jagoda Sadowska said: “It’s been a great pleasure to be involved in the project. Dundee is a wonderful city and hopefully, with the opening of Scotland’s UNESCO Trail, it will get even more recognition and appreciation.
“As someone who recently graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, I feel extremely fortunate to be able to pursue Illustration as a full-time job. Dundee is filled with warm and motivated people that create an encouraging environment for upcoming artists. There’s a strong sense of community that is both friendly and welcoming and had a fundamental influence on my practice. Creative Dundee does a wonderful job of connecting people, providing space and opportunities for creatives.
"I hope the Trail can work as a gateway to allow more people to experience the City of Dundee and beyond.”
The full list of designations included in Scotland’s UNESCO Trail are the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere, Wester Ross UNESCO Biosphere, Dundee UNESCO City of Design, Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature, Glasgow UNESCO City of Music, Shetland UNESCO Global Geopark, North West Highlands UNESCO Global Geopark, the Forth Bridge UNESCO World Heritage Site, Frontiers of the Roman Empire: Antonine Wall UNESCO World Heritage Site, New Lanark UNESCO World Heritage Site, Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site, Old and New Towns of Edinburgh UNESCO World Heritage Site, St Kilda World Heritage Site.
For more information, visit www.visitscotland.com/unesco-trail