Decarbonising the whole visitor journey for rural destinations

Travel to and around rural visitor destinations is a significant source of carbon emissions.

So what does transport for low carbon visitor destinations look like, feel like and how does it function? What are the other benefits? What needs doing to make it happen?

Dive in to find out

The six component model sets out the parts of the whole visitor journey in terms of how to decarbonise it. It also provides diving boards into to the detail to see where things work well. Some parts link through to blogs and links that colour-in how things actually work on the ground.

Low Carbon Destinations focusses mainly on domestic travel (rather than aviation) and changing travel behaviour (rather than vehicle tech). This is because these are generally in the gift of the key organisations who are agents of change for destinations.

And in the UK?

For each of the six components, needs and opportunities for the UK are highlighted. We also extract three priorities for action: the development of travel services to destinations, in-destination visitor access management and governance.


This has all been made possible through a Churchill Fellowship and a Foundation for Integrated Transport Fellowship.

and then sometimes…
23rd August 2023

Oh dear. First step of Venice to Greece by ferry, car free… i.e. getting to the big ferry from Venice. Ugh.

Even the swamps of the internet provide no useful information and there was a perpetual sense of the best laid plans being defeated and our booked and paid for ferry sailing by without us.

Google maps was no use here. The key local ferry from Venice to its detached main ferry port didn’t appear and the ferry terminal was just blank space. Somewhere deep in the bowels of a Google search was a post of glee suggesting that this » Continue Reading.

Been Wenged
20th August 2023

Imagine you could go to some rural area, maybe a national park, and you had a guarantee that you could get from the mainline station and get around, not just the odd bus now and then, but by all sorts of ways – bikes, e-bikes etc.

Ta-dah! It’s called “Guaranteed mobility” and places like Werfenweng and Mallnitz in Austria – both part of the Alpine Pearls network – are close to just that. Here’s what our last few days in Werfenweng looked like. But before I get going, I’ll admit that I am not normal; seeking out “best » Continue Reading.

So this is what traffic-free tourism looks, sounds and feels like. How did this happen?
14th August 2023

I’m in Ghent (or Gent). OK, it’s not rural, but it’s a living lab of stripping cars out of somewhere as a key part of rethinking what the place is all about…and blimey, does Gent know what it’s all about. This is what car-free looks like…

This didn’t happen decades ago, but really all started in earnest less that 10 years ago. Take a look at the video How to Ghentify your city – or scroll down the Links page to find shortcuts to the juicy bits.

So what does it feel like?

It’s busy, but » Continue Reading.

And we’re off!
12th August 2023

Brandishing our Interrail card like overgrown students, we boarded the 06.47 from our home village of Staveley in Cumbria this morning. When I return, the leaves will be turning and schools will be all back. Ghent by nightfall. This really is the way to travel. A 2 month Interrail pass for a family of 3 for under £1k. We’re reading the weekend newspaper, drinking coffee, sleeping, playing games, walking around… Far more pleasant than flying, roomier, less hassle, far cheaper…oh, and massively less carbon. And we have the gorgeousness of St Pancras and the Eurostar buzz to look forward to.

Who are the future visitors and how will they (want to) travel?
31st July 2023

I’ve had really great conversations recently with people in the UK which have led to a crystalising of ideas around how future visitors are likely to want to travel and what the future visitor business landscape might look like. The only certainty is that on the key milestones for decarbonisation – 2030, 2037, 2040, 2050 – these will be different from today.

Looking to other places, it’s clear that sustainability generally is a more mainstream and up-front part of visitor marketing, whether this be for specific destinations (such as Seefeld or Werfenweng) or complementary services by mainstream transport » Continue Reading.

Woah! Two car-free UK mainstream press articles in one week?
19th July 2023

Do I sense that extolling not just the benefits (and let’s face it, sense of worthiness) but the joys and quality of experience of being a visitor-without-a-car is coming out of the shadows?

Some areas of the mainstream UK press are really getting their act together on this (such as the Guardian/Observer at weekends, especially Pheobe Taplin), whilst others are still resolutely banging on with their antediluvian views on decarbonisation (do I need to list these?).

So it was with some happiness that I tripped over the following two articles:

Sophie Pavelle in the Guradian I travelled around » Continue Reading.

What’s bubbling in the Alps?
19th July 2023

I had a great conversation this week with Karmen Mentil – ex-director of the Alpine Pearls and recognised leader on tourism sustainability.

It was clear that Covid was a bit of a watershed in tourism and transport in Alpine destinations – as it has been in so many other walks of life. It sounds familiar from a UK perspective that the disruption of the tourism sector has challenged the motivations of some destinations to maintain and develop their sustainable transport offer.

However, it was great to hear of successes such as Seefeld’s pioneer status of being awarded » Continue Reading.