The Helix awarded Green Tourism Gold Award
One of Scotland’s five-star visitor attractions, The Helix, Home of The Kelpies, has won a Gold award from industry experts, Green Tourism, acknowledging its solid commitment to sustainability.
The visitor attraction, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, was independently assessed against sustainable certification standards recognised across the tourism sector. Previously holding the Bronze Green Tourism award, Falkirk Council created an Eco Team at The Helix with members working towards achieving its planet, places and people sustainability goals, and was reassessed by Green Tourism in February 2023, achieving the Gold award with an overall 80% score.
The Helix, originally created as a space for the communities in the Falkirk area to come together, has always operated with sustainability, health and wellbeing and biodiversity at its core. Awarded five-star visitor attraction status by VisitScotland and winner of the ‘Great Day Out’ Award at this year’s Scottish Thistle National Awards, The Helix is free for visitors and offers significant amounts of green space and a wealth of things to do including 27km of traffic free, wheelchair friendly, paths for walking, running, or cycling, an adventure zone playpark, splash play area and sensory play area.
Covid presented a real challenge for the team in achieving the Gold standard as most of The Helix staff were furloughed. However, on returning the team found the issues represented in Green Tourism such as mental health, community, culture, our planet, and green spaces, were even more relevant. The lockdown had highlighted the park’s important role for the local community in providing a green space where people could meet and exercise.
Wellness Wednesdays were introduced for staff after furlough ended, providing a space where staff could share hobbies and strategies for maintaining wellbeing, and leading to the introduction of a staff garden where produce is grown by staff which is used in the Visitor Centre café. As a result of initiatives in this area, The Helix was awarded 100% by Green Tourism for its health and wellbeing, and a 90% score for community. Other initiatives included undertaking projects to reuse and repurpose wood offcuts from the park that would normally have been discarded. Within the café, single use items have been reduced significantly and reusable options are championed. These recycling initiatives contributed to an 82% score from Green Tourism under the waste category.
Cllr Paul Garner, Falkirk Council’s spokesperson for Economic Development and Tourism said: “The story of Helix Park is founded in the ideals of sustainability, biodiversity, and community. Achieving the Green Tourism Gold Award is, for us, a vindication of our attempts to be mindful of these in everything we do.
“Given research shows that 90% of consumers look to sustainable options when traveling*, we are especially proud to have achieved Gold Green Tourism Award within ten years of operating. Helix staff, like people all over the world, are becoming ever more concerned about green issues on a personal level. We welcomed the opportunity to bring these personal commitments into our working lives, whether in the park itself or in our retail and catering departments. We are extremely proud of our work so far and the wider team’s enthusiasm to embrace the changes. We look forward to continuing our journey and improving on our Green Tourism score.”