A Spotlight on Blue Wild Nature Boat Tours

Their story as a Wild Scotland Member

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Understanding the mindset and motivations of a sustainable business isn’t always easy so Alan Stewart, co-owner of BlueWild Nature Boat Tours shared his mind map> .

This simplifies the vision, illuminating the complexity and interconnectivity of every business decision, revealing a purposeful care taken in every action. “Where the River Forth meets the North Sea, our tours provide an opportunity to do more than point at things to see – our aim is to inspire visitors to understand marine life behaviours.”

That’s the passion Alan imparts to guests on Blue Wild’s nature encounters.

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Created with passion

BlueWild create their tours based on their guide’s expertise, passion and enthusiasm backed by informative good science. BlueWild crews are encouraged and supported to expand their knowledge and skills, with inputs from experts and time to research and deliver new tours. Fully aligned with SOAC, WiSe and Wild Scotland codes of conduct, BlueWild ensure that all wildlife encounters are undertaken respectfully with marine and birdlife care being paramount.

Whilst the natural environment offers the immediate spectacle, BlueWild is working to enhance methods of engagement and information interpretation with visitors of all ages. Plans are for experiments with 2nd and 3rd screen interactivity, augmented reality and mobile devices will make the wildlife experience more relevant to digital natives.

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Support and partnerships

BlueWild works with organisations to support young people from challenging backgrounds; offering sight-seeing, crewing and nature guide experience. This includes a nascent partnership with the Scottish Ornithologist’s Club on a pilot project to encourage young people into careers in nature and environmental protection. BlueWild also provide voluntary support for the Ocean Youth Trust Scotland and projects with local schools. Efforts also continue to create a community science project around Dunbar and North Berwick on marine pollution.

“We’re not as good as we could be, nor as well practiced as some others, so we need to recognise that we must always improve, change, adapt and use new technology where possible”, Alan maintains.

For example, it seems incongruous that a nature tour boat company should use diesel powered boats - so Alan is determined to make continual improvements. Engine performance and fuel efficiency matched with skipper driving training is monitored and managed to give 40% more fuel efficiency compared to unleaded outboard engines.

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The challenge

Scotland’s tourism sector is a recognised national economic wealth, mainly delivered by small and micro businesses, with the reflected value of exceptional visitor experiences generated by the whole tour boat sector being central to Scotland’s tourism status.

The sector however is increasingly squeezed by economic weight against limited consumer spending importantly, the value creation needs to be recognised through more direct support.

Alan believes that this exposes a limited strategic vision in governmental policy. A re-set on financial support: a re-prioritisation; a whole new control panel on the policies, choices and action needed that provide better incentives on what we can do now to be more sustainable is now critical. This means, long-term finance, tax breaks, VAT reduction, fuel subsidies, sustainable products, innovation grants, light-weighting materials, digital to replace paper, new power sources, training and re-training support: “funding to do - not to have consultants tell you what you should do”, says Alan.

Support for adoption of e-vehicles is not mirrored in the marine sector to develop e-tour boats.

Innovation funds are inadequate. The opportunity to access even insufficient funds is disproportionately more complex than finding the meaningful larger sums available for other sectors. In supporting fishing, wind farm business supply chains and corporate level development, there is a real threat that a lack of integrated strategy could support one sector to the detriment of sustainable tourism.

The frustration is that we know business can be better: it can implement change now that would help towards maximising the contribution to a net zero target. Most just can’t afford it now. We need to be realistic.

The sustainable solution

What we can do is try. BlueWild is a small, independent tour boat company. They endeavour to grow their business to employ more people, create opportunities, contribute to the local economy and do it in a sustainable way.

As a passionate nature tour operator, they present exceptional natural beauty and allow it to make its’ statement; BlueWild provides some understanding of a changing world; demonstrating the human impact - good and bad - and make their own small effort on sustainability to achieve a significant difference.

We wake up each day, we sail, we share, we protect the blue.


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