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Welcome to Crieff, the New Destination for Ecotourism in Perthshire?

On our language school blog, I often write for international English learners, to paint a portrait of our little Perthshire town and community (and of course to demonstrate what a great place our friendly town of Crieff is to come to learn English).

If you are an ecotourist hoping to visit Scotland, great! This blog will be up your street. 

However, today I’m also addressing Crieff and Strathearn residents. It is time to unite and consider the increase of ecotourism to Perthshire as our best opportunity. 

In this blog, I ask if the excellent environmentally friendly initiatives in our town shouldn’t become our tourist identity, our superpower, our USP – whatever you want to call it. 

Read this blog for an exploration of ideas around Ecotourism in Perthshire. 

If you are an international English learner, there is a practice exercise for you at the end too! 

photographing bluebells in the sunshine Ecotourism in Perthshire

Immersion English wildlife excursion

Tourism is in Decline

Crieff is an amazing town in the Highlands of Scotland. The only problem (from a marketing viewpoint) is that there are amazing wee towns right across Scotland.

Yes, we have beautiful scenery – but so do others.

Crieff was once a bustling tourist destination because of its location: it’s a highland town easy to get to from Glasgow and Edinburgh airports.

Only cars and buses go a bit faster and a bit further these days. Many tourists still pass through Crieff – but on their way to other Perthshire towns like Dunkeld and Aberfeldy, or further north to the Scottish wildernesses of the Highlands. 

Crieff’s Tourist Assets

There really are many good reasons to visit and/or live in Crieff. It’s just most other places have strong attributes too.

Since moving to Crieff 6 years ago, I’ve heard a lot of conversations about how to improve the town’s visibility to tourists, how to regenerate the High Street and ‘put Crieff back on the map.’ 

Some great things certainly have started happening, (and I sincerely count our language school as one of them).

However, one thing that is rarely talked about in a business community-wide way is environmentalism.

Any discussion of Creiff’s regeneration should ask, how can we boost our town’s economic development AS WELL AS reduce our town’s carbon footprint?

COP26 in Scotland

Frankly, the whole world should be talking about how to make global tourism less destructive.

With Scotland hosting the COP26 in November, every Scottish community should be looking for ways to improve its carbon footprint.

(Not just leaving it to the next generation to sort out!)

Ecotourism is a form of tourism marketed as “responsible” travel (using what proponents say is sustainable transport) to natural areas, conserving the environment, and improving the well-being of the local people.

Local Politics

Without disappearing down too many rabbit holes – like most communities, we have a division of interests and politics around environmentalism.

Strathearn is home to farmers and vegans, huge, eco-system-destroying traditional grouse estates and successful eco-businesses like Comrie Croft that sell experiences of our beautiful landscape peacefully and respectfully.

Conversations get heated, opinions further entrenched and talks shut down.

We are all going to have different opinions on many things, but perhaps we can begin by all agreeing: that we want to attract tourists, build a community with good jobs for locals (and therefore less poverty) and decrease our carbon footprint and waste.

This can be our common ground.

My argument in this blog is that Crieff is in a great position to market itself to ecotourists.

camping at Comrie Croft - ecotourism in Perthshire

Comrie Croft eco campsite

The Good News is We Have Already Started!

I’d like to point out that Crieff is already home to 3 absolutely pioneering social/environmental initiatives.

They could (and should) have the whole county looking and learning from them. 

Strathearn residents, I would like you to consider whether waste is a subject we could unite on, and act on.

It could even becomes the marketing and regeneration proposal that our town is searching for.

Crieff: Less Rubbish Than Anywhere Else!

Ecotourism in Perthshire Example | #1:
Surplus Food Drop at Crieff’s Community Garden

I’d firstly like to tell you about Tina McRorie, the Crieff Food Bank and the Community Garden.

For those who haven’t yet heard, local superhero Tina has managed to get the local  Co-op supermarket to donate all its fresh food surplus to the local community, now via the team at Crieff’s Community Garden: thus saving it from becoming landfill.

Starting this week, crates of fresh fruit and veg at the end of their shelf life are donated to the local community by being placed in the Community Garden – with Tina herself collecting and delivering.

English Language School Food Drop at Crieff Community Gardens ecotourism in Perthshire

Surplus food drop

The Background

Our local Co-op has been doing charity collections for the food bank for a few years now.

Generally in the UK, you need to be referred to a food bank before you can access its services. There remain many people living in hardship outside of the social services and welfare system who cannot go through the process of a referral – or don’t want/can’t face the stigma of using it.

Tina was quite clear to me – anyone can use the Crieff Community Food Bank (phone number below).

During Lockdown, Tina began dropping off surplus fruit and veg to a phone box in the nearby village of Muthill, which had already become a library and larder for the folks in the village.

Tina ensured that fresh fruit/veg reached people who were self-isolating and couldn’t travel to buy food.

 

 

“You asked how the food bank has changed over the last five years well I guess we are busier than ever, so many people are struggling especially on benefits. The pandemic has hit families hard and less money has meant more need for our service.

I have been collecting the surplus food just before closing time at the Co-op since they started doing charity collections a few years ago, whilst it’s hard work the pleasure of knowing how much it helps people in our community makes it all worthwhile.”

Tina McRorie

 

Feed Your Tortoise!

This collaboration between the Co-op, Community Garden and the Food Bank is genius.

There’s no social stigma to collecting the veg – something that users of Food Bank often keenly feel.

Plus it’s available to absolutely anyone.

It’s actually encouraged that everyone uses it – not just our community’s poorest.

“Feed your Pets! Feed your Tortoise” one social media post says.

It’s not for someone worse off than you – it’s going to the landfill if not collected”.

tortoise icon for ecotourism in Perthshire blog

Crieff Community Garden

We’ve talked about Crieff’s community Garden on previous language school blogs: about how recently (during Lockdown) it has been rescued and transformed and is an absolute gem.

Here’s how this latest collaboration came about.

 

 

“The initiative to hand out free fruit and vegetables at Crieff Community Garden was really spur of the moment. Tina McRorie who runs Crieff Food bank approached me to ask if Crieff Community Garden would like the excess veg from the food bank for our compost bins. I enquired further and she advised they receive far too much to hand out from the cop-op, to which I suggested we assist by having our own free fruit/veg stand at Crieff Community Garden.

We agreed to trial it, thinking if we don’t get much of a response, the veg is still saved from landfill and we’ll be able to compost it within the community garden. We started that night Monday 02/08/2021 and in the first 4 days managed to hand out 24 crates worth of fruit and veg”.

Catriona Smith, of Crieff’s Community Garden

Let’s Move!

For any policymakers reading this, think for a moment about the fact that people are leaving their house and walking or cycling to the garden to collect surplus fruit and veg to take home and eat!

I’ve worked as an English teacher for a French government agency whose job it was to think of campaigns that would have such results. (INPES – Institut National de Prévention et d’éducation pour la Santéin, in case you are interested).

Seriously, a whole marketing department that was filled with health psychologists, nutritionists, patient groups and marketers, with the intention of getting people to ‘move more’ and ‘Eat 5 a Day‘.

And Tina and Catriona just nailed it.

Seriously. Tell the world. It’s beautiful.  

Social Proof 

This anonymous letter was left at the fruit and veg stall at the community garden:

 

“Thank you for the free fruit. We enjoyed some strawberries and apricots in the community garden while the grandchildren invented some tales at your wonderful giant throne. What a remarkable effort the volunteers have made.”

 

Ecotourism in Perthshire Example | #2: Remake

Remake is a Crieff based charity that diverts all kinds of reusable objects and goods from landfill and sells them back to the community at a very affordable price.

They have a ton of arts and craft supplies, including pens, paper and other stationery which gets repurposed for workshops with community groups.

Businesses and households donate furniture and every kind of household item. Some things get fixed or repaired before they go back out on the shelves. They also offer youth training opportunities and have a tool library.

Remake ‘inspire people to reduce waste‘.

Remake was founded in 2011.

Just imagine all the landfill that has been repurposed in this time. It begs the question, why is there not something like this in every town the size of Crieff (and larger)?

English language school Perthshire activities meet the makers
Screenshot from the Remake website

Local Solutions to Global Problems

Remake describes itself as a ‘local solution to a global problem‘.

It clearly is, but aren’t both our local solutions something that can and should be scaled up globally?

While the world looks at Scotland during Cop26, let’s make sure that ‘Crieff is on the map‘ and part of the conversation about change.

Crieff and Strathearn residents, there are amazing, pioneering projects already in your town. Support them, shout about them and emulate them.   

Really, let’s make ‘Crieff: Less Rubbish than Anywhere Else’ something we all can strive for.

There is a percentage of the global tourist market who are interested in ecotourism, who want to visit and explore – but in ways that are sustainable.

Ecotourism in Perthshire Example |

#3: Strowan Woods Eco-Cemetery

Scotland’s first eco-cemetery is sited on the outskirts of Crieff, on the banks of the River Earn.

It might sound odd, but we often take our English learners there as part of an immersion English excursion. It’s wonderfully pretty and an ecological success.

Visiting the bluebells at Strowan Cemetery Perthshire eco-cemetery

Strowan Woodland Cemetery

Learn English in Perthshire for Ecotourists

Our language school is for people who want to combine exploring with learning.

It’s not gratuitous bake-on-a-beach tourism. We offer skill-building, career-enhancing, culture-enriching and information-sharing holidays.

For our immersion English activities, we only partner with local service providers that practise sustainable tourism.

Crieff people, the modern-day tourists coming to town are here to see untouched landscapes and experience them in active and non-invasive ways.

Give up on old models of tour buses and plastic-wrapped sarnies. We can do better.

We have amazing bakeries, delis, local produce and wildlife experiences to offer. 

Let’s measure our waste, and significantly reduce our waste.

Pioneering systems to do this will give ecotourists in Perthshire a valid reason to check out our town.

canoe trip

English learner Daria canoeing the River Tay

Ecotourism in Perthshire

Thank you for reading these thoughts on attracting ecotourists to Crieff in Perthshire.

If there is anything here that you would like to discuss, please do get in touch!

If you like the ideas, please leave a comment.

Further Information

Anybody is able to access the Crieff Community Food Bank should they need to by ringing 03453011100.

Support the Crieff Community Food Bank.

Learn more about the Crieff Community Garden.

Remake Scotland

Find out about Strowan Woodland Cemetery

Want to know how Blue Noun English Language Hub supports our local community? We have a Community Action Policy.

 

Many Thanks

A huge thank you to Tina and Catarina for taking the time to answer my questions – and of course, for everything you do for our town.

Further Reading 

If you’ve liked this blog, you might enjoy reading about another visit to Crieff’s Community Garden. Follow the link below to our language school blog:

 

Our Art and Design English Course Talk Sculpture

 

Blue Noun English Language Challenge

 

Every blog we give language learners an English language challenge to respond to.

 

‘Tell us about a remarkable solution to waste”

 

Tell us about something happening in your community, big or small. A design. A charity. A recipe! 

Practice here!  As usual, write as much as you like in the comments – and if you would like us to check &  correct your English, write CP  (correct please) at the end.

 

Live language learning!

‘Tell us about a remarkable solution to waste”