Scotland celebrates launch of world’s first ever UNESCO trail

The trail aims to bring together some of the country's most iconic, diverse and culturally significant sites.

Scotland celebrates launch of world’s first ever UNESCO trail Visit Scotland

The world’s first ever United Nations Educational Scientific Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) trail has been launched in Scotland.

The trail connects Scotland’s 13 place-based UNESCO designations, including world heritage sites, biospheres, global geoparks and creative cities to form a dedicated digital trail.

It aims to take visitors on a “cultural journey” across the country as they experience everything from history to science, music, design and literature to nature and cityscapes. 

The project is designed to make Scotland a responsible tourism destination.

It is aimed to encourage visitors to stay longer, visit all year round, make sustainable travel choices, explore more widely and at the right time of the year, and in turn, contribute to the sustainable quality of life of those communities surrounding the designated sites.

The digital trail, which is available on Visit Scotland, showcases all of the UNESCO designations on offer across country, including the Forth Bridge, the 5000 year old Ring of Brodgar in Orkney and the Antonine Wall in East Dunbartonshire.

Glasgow, Dundee and Edinburgh represent music, design and literature as the three creative cities.

The trail has been developed through a unique partnership between VisitScotland, the Scottish Government, the UK National Commission for UNESCO, Historic Environment Scotland, NatureScot, the National Trust for Scotland and Scotland’s 13 UNESCO designations.

The project has received £360,000 funding from the Scottish Government to support the strategy for the sustainable recovery of Scottish tourism. 

Tourism minister Ivan McKee officially launched the trail in Dundee on Friday.

He said: Scotland has always been a pioneering nation and I’m pleased to see we’re leading the way with the world’s first UNESCO digital trail.

“Supported by £360,000 of Scottish Government funding, the UNESCO Trail will help to attract and welcome both domestic and international visitors again, by showcasing Scotland’s unique cultural heritage and many UNESCO sites.

“As we approach COP26, I’m pleased to see that the UNESCO trail has sustainability at its core and will help visitors make responsible and sustainable choices by highlighting green accredited businesses and promoting environmentally friendly travel.”

A specially commissioned design by illustrator and printmaker, Jagoda Sadowska was unveiled at the launch.

The graduate of the city’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art said: “It’s been a great pleasure to be involved in the project. Dundee is a wonderful city and hopefully, with the opening of Scotland’s UNESCO Trail, it will get even more recognition and appreciation. 

“As someone who recently graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, I feel extremely fortunate to be able to pursue Illustration as a full-time job.

“Dundee is filled with warm and motivated people that create an encouraging environment for upcoming artists.

“There’s a strong sense of community that is both friendly and welcoming and had a fundamental influence on my practice.

“I hope the Trail can work as a gateway to allow more people to experience the City of Dundee and beyond.” 

VisitScotland director of industry and destination development, Rob Dickson, said: “There is no other journey like Scotland’s UNESCO Trail and we want to inspire visitors to take a once-in-a-lifetime experience across the country, delving into its history and heritage, experiencing the wonder of its natural assets and the magic that inspires art, music and literature.

“The innovative trail not only showcases the breadth of culturally astounding UNESCO designations we have across Scotland but also the exceptional visitor experiences this trail creates.”

The full list of designations included in Scotland’s UNESCO Trail are:

  • Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere
  • Wester Ross UNESCO Biosphere
  • Dundee UNESCO City of Design
  • Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature
  • Glasgow UNESCO City of Music
  • Shetland UNESCO Global Geopark
  • North West Highlands UNESCO Global Geopark
  • The Forth Bridge UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Frontiers of the Roman Empire: Antonine Wall UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • New Lanark UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Old and New Towns of Edinburgh UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • St Kilda World Heritage Site. 
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