Leave no trace
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Picture by Kevin Borrill

In August 2018, a group of local residents on the Isle of Skye took to the popular tourist spot of the Fairy Glen and, with the help of the community, removed the numerous stacks of stones that had been put there by visitors over the years.

This radical, and somewhat unpopular action is a very telling event: on the one hand, visitors are keen to discover beautiful and “magical” landmarks, with an ever-popular need to show the world they “were here”. On the other hand, residents and nature lovers would like to see sites of natural beauty like the Fairy Glen left as they are, arguing that moving stones and stacking them is also a health and safety risk.

However, Scotland is a popular destination, year after year it ranks among the best world destinations to explore (earning a mention in Lonely Planet’s 2019 Best in Travel). It is a small country too, its natural beauty is at stake if we all decide to leave a trace of our visit.

Elsewhere, the City of Paris has now removed all “love locks” on the Pont des Arts. In Thailand, Maya Bay on Ko Phi Phi Leh island (featured in Danny Boyle’s “The Beach”) has been closed indefinitely to visitors in order to help its wildlife and fauna regenerate. This week in London, the Responsible Tourism Programme will be running a series of conference during WTM 2018, highlighting the increasing need for responsible development and management of visitor attractions and natural sites.

I recently heard about the Leave No Trace programme in the United States of America, which aims to promote ways of reducing recreation-related impact to natural sites. Interestingly, among their outdoor ethics principles, they also advocate leaving no digital trace of our travels: avoiding geo-tagging your photos on Instagram for instance. On this issue, I do recommend watching the short documentary from the excellent channel VOX, aptly named “What happens when nature goes viral?”.

So, if you’re planning to visit Scotland (and we will always encourage you to do so) it is more essential than ever to adhere to a few “Leave No Trace” principles, in order to reduce your footprint and leave as little a trace as possible:

  • Do not move rocks when you visit a natural site.

  • Do not walk outside of walkways and paths as not to disturb Scotland’s wildlife and its flora.

  • Take your litter with you and recycle any material that can be.

  • Look at Green Tourism certified attractions, hotels and tour companies like E-City Chauffeur, to make your journey in Scotland as eco-friendly as possible.

  • Avoid geo-tagging locations on Instagram. Scotland’s popularity is also built on its mysteries and folk tales: in a world of instant knowledge at our fingertips, it’s a nice feeling to keep some of Scotland’s beauty as our little secrets.

Feel free to get in touch with us, let us know what you think about this issue and how it relates to the need to provide a more responsible approach to tourism in Scotland. As part of our commitment to eco-friendly travel, and upholding our Green Tourism Gold certification, we strive to advocate a “Leave No Trace” policy on all of our tours.

Nicolas Loisel
The perks of going all electric
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Electric vehicles, or EVs, are a bit of a novelty in business. They are surrounded by myths, and by a mix of fear and clichés*. And that is completely understandable: EVs are new, and running a business with them takes a bit of getting used to, like with a new routine. However, once you get the ball rolling, there is no going back! EVs offer many perks as business vehicles:

Incentives

In the United Kingdom, as in numerous other European nations, the government is incentivising the purchase of electric vehicles, starting with a £4,500 grant at the time of purchase. How about not paying any road tax (no emissions), no London Congestion Charge for our friends down south? Until 2021, you get a 100% first year allowance. Fuel costs are lower, and much less prone to dramatic variations as we have seen with traditional gas in the past.

 

 Example of yearly fuel cost savings © Tesla.com

Example of yearly fuel cost savings © Tesla.com

Sustainability

EVs are sustainable, not only because they use a cleaner energy source (fossil fuels are being dropped as the cost of renewables energy become competitive), but because they require much less maintenance than a typical ICE (Internal Combustion Engine). With less moving parts, less fluids of all sorts, and the smooth deceleration of regenerative braking (the car charges the battery when slowing down, you hardly use your brakes), servicing is quick, cheap and painless.

Charging means networking

One of the recurring questions I hear is: “how far can you go on a charge?” It’s a bit like asking someone if they’ll use their full tank every time they go for a drive. My EV goes as far as I want it to go, and when I stop for lunch, for coffee, or elsewhere, the EV’s idle time is actually useful: it charges. The Charge Place Scotland network is fast and widespread around the country, and when you’re seen plugging in your EV, it’s inevitably a conversation starter. You never know who you’ll meet on the road.

Positivity

Providing a sustainable, cleaner and emission-free private transport solution, in Scotland, has an incredible effect in terms of image. Not only is it now possible to cross the country using solely electric power, the customer curiosity for EVs added with the growing demand for environmentally-sound travel create an enthusiast response and a positive outlook on the future of personal transportation.

So, when is your next zero-emission free journey with E-City Chauffeur in Scotland?

*On clichés, I recommend that you watch Fully Charged's short series on what it's like to live with an electric car.

Nicolas Loisel
The search for the Authentic
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Picture by Steve Bittinger

When destinations seem increasingly to be sold as places to cross off our bucket list, as one of the hundreds we NEED to have seen to make the most of our time on Earth, we rush from one place to another on board of low-cost flights trying to tick all the boxes. While it may certainly be an appealing and exhilarating way to travel, it is, I think, no different than trying to complete the most rides on a day at Disneyland.

The “Authentic” does not exist in Disneyland! Authenticity, with a capital “A”, is by definition the hardest thing to fake. It cannot be planned, therefore cannot be included in a package, nor printed as a promise on a travel agent’s brochure. But aren’t we all looking for authentic experiences, meaningful moments that help us find our place in the world or open ourselves to each other’s culture and ideas?

In Scotland, there’s plenty of faux-authentic on sale: a stroll on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile on a July afternoon should suffice to convince anybody saying otherwise. And that’s absolutely fine! If in a rush, the faux-authentic will do, it will offer a sense of what Scotland is, in a simplified, easily-digestible way. Fair enough.

Now, in my 7 years living in Edinburgh, I can’t recall a single significant memory that happened to me on the Royal Mile. My best memories are elsewhere: strolling through an empty St Abbs on a January evening, feeling like I'm on the edge of the world at Eshaness in Shetland, celebrating Halloween with locals like they were my best friends in a pub on Ardnamurchan Peninsula, encountering a herd of deer on my way up Ben A’an... None of these moments were planned. All are lasting memories.

Perhaps this is where the “Authentic” might lie: in the unexpected.

Nicolas Loisel
Disconnect to reconnect
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Picture by Joshua Earle

Over the past decade, the world has become increasingly connected, to the point that most of our social interactions today are happening via digital go-betweens. Surely, it has made the world a smaller place, and it offers incredible opportunities for entrepreneurs like myself to develop their business in a way that could not have been imagined just a few years ago.

But every coin has a flip side. With increased demands and full-time social media management comes digital fatigue. At the end of the day, the body and the mind need to switch off and rest from all solicitations. Until you're woken up at 3am by a newsletter email. If we're to accept the digital age's paradigm, perhaps should we also book a holiday from it once in a while, we should disconnect and look at the world beyond our smartphones.

In Scotland, we are blessed with magnificent landscapes, truly remote and unspoilt scenery, right on our doorstep. The heights of Glencoe are a mere 2-hour drive from Edinburgh's city centre (on a quiet day), and they are there to make us feel small. The romantic and sublime beauty of the Scottish Highland is a humble reminder that this place was here long before us, and will remain long after our data runs out.

So, once in a while, let's disconnect our brains from the machines, emails, devices and digital friends. Let's look at the world, not through a filter but with our naked eyes, and connect with our surroundings. If we disconnect to reconnect, we open ourselves to the authentic, the unexpected. These are the best memories, the ones you record with your heart, not your phone.

Nicolas Loisel