A drive to protect landscapes, wildlife and local communities is underway weeks before travel restrictions are expected to ease and visitor attractions, hotels, bars and restaurants are expected to reopen as the country emerges from lockdown.
Tourism, wildlife and environmental bodies and organisations have joined forces to try to head off potential problems with “dirty camping,” litter, broken glass, fire hazards, waste disposal, traffic congestion and bad parking as restrictions are eased over the next few weeks and months.
Holidaymakers are also being urged to “slow down and savour their moment” on their travels around Scotland this year.
The £124,000 campaign has emerged from a new “visitor management strategy drawn up in the wake of the pandemic sparking “unprecedented visitor demand” in many parts of Scotland when the first lockdown was lifted last summer.
The new strategy aims to “build Scotland’s reputation as a sustainable tourism destination” by ensuring that the environment is protected, local communities are respected and the experiences of visitors is not tarnished.
The Scottish Government’s tourism agency VisitScotland, which is leading the campaign, said it had been developed after some parts of of Scotland experience a “massive increase” in domestic visitors to rural and coastal areas, putting pressure on communities, facilities and infrastructure.
Older teens and young adults are among those being initially targeted by the campaign, which is largely aimed at a domestic audience, with future phases likely to be adapted for travellers from around the UK and overseas.
A short film has been launched today to mark the beginning of the campaign, which will be rolled out across advertising billboards, social media channels and radio.
The campaign video, which features a family out on walk at Conic Hill at Balmaha, in the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, states: “What we do today affects tomorrow. Let’s keep Scotland special, now and for generations to come. It’s all of ours to care for.
“Scottish communities need both our time and our respect.
"Our wildlife has roamed this land for centuries, so when we roam we need to think of them.
"Take only pictures, leave only footprints and leave these special places as we found them.”
Vicki Miller, VisitScotland's head of marketing, said: “This campaign is hugely important, particularly at this time, as we’re all enjoying the outdoors more due to restrictions to other sections of the tourism industry.
"It’s imperative that we realise the impact of our visits on these areas and our individual and collective responsibility to care for Scotland.
“We want to protect the stunning landscapes and wildlife that Scotland is famous for and the local communities that are such an important part of our culture.
"We’re asking everyone to help keep Scotland special by ensuring we protect our natural resources by being responsible and respectful when out and about.”
VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead added: “We’re askings visitors to protect our countryside, respect the local communities, wildlife and landscapes but still enjoy the beautiful natural resources we have across the country.
"We want to work with businesses, destinations and communities to ensure visitors and locals can have a fantastic experience as and when tourism starts to rebuild.”