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May 29, 2012

Iona Hostel: Best eco-hostel in Scotland and second best in the UK !!

I was in Edinburgh on Friday to attend the Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS)  annual awards which are for the best practice in eco-tourism in the UK. Those attending are the highest rating eco-businesses in the country.  In the Hostel category, the excellent Deepdale Backpackers Hostel in Norfolk won the award, and Iona Hostel came in second place.

I’m very pleased with how well Iona Hostel has done and it’s a very gratifying recognition of all the work and vision that so many people have put into the place. The hostel has had a GTBS ‘Gold’ rating since 2003, which was the first on Iona. It was Andrew and Yo, the hostel managers last year that took the hostel through its bi-annual assessment by GTBS, and it was essentially their hard work and interest that helped the hostel score so high. Thanks to you both !

The Green Tourism Business Scheme is exellent. It is recognised as the world leader in eco schemes of this type and being well established in the UK is now being picked up as an international standard. It’s relevant, rigorous, inspirational and effective and the team in Perth are to be congratulated for their vision and hard work.

I’m also pleased for Iona. For a wee island with a population of 120 or so, we now have four ‘Gold’ rated Green Tourism Businesses: Iona Hostel, the Argyll Hotel, St Columba Hotel and the Abbey (Historic Scotland). That’s impressive. We are also a Fair Trade island, various businesses work to a green ethos though not necessarily in the Green Tourism Business Scheme, several of the crofters and farmers regularly participate in agri -environmental schemes, corncrakes abound, and the boat operators set a very high standard  in wildlife tourism. Last but not least, the primary school with the wonderful Liz Kennedy as headmistress do a fantastic job in teaching about the environment and the wider issues that impact upon us all.

As you possibly know, Iona has been basking in sunshine for about eight weeks now. While the rest of the country has been plastered in rain -we’ve been in t-shirts and suncream. Sort of balances things up ! Last week we had a wedding on the beach. A lovely couple, Joanne and Rob, booked the hostel about a year ago for their family and friends. To put this heroic act of optimism and faith in context, this time last year we had a Force 11 storm and slashing rain…. However, on the day the sun shone, the wind stilled and Iona was just acheingly beautiful. They walked barefoot from the hostel across the machair to the beach where they were married (including a poem by Pablo Neruda -good choice!) and in the evening they all danced on the sand to a ceilidh band. It was a spot of heaven.

I’ve included quite a few photo’s. They’re not very good I’m afraid but they give something of the day !

Today has been quiet and overcast. Quite welcome really, a reflective, interior sort of day after the dazzle and heat of the last while.

‘Interior times

 there’s not much to say.

Rain is falling on the bay.

But out on the sea

The light is singing,

Now the end can come

And the beginning’.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Nick Fairhurst permalink
    June 8, 2012 3:23 pm

    Congratulations on the award John,in our opinion you are the best in the world by smiles and smiles. Bearing in mind Joanne & Rob’s many combined families descended on you from around the world for the wedding, it would seem that the rest of the world would agree….
    For and on behalf of all the families that came to stay with you & Snuffles on that wonderful week, a big heart felt thank you and a ten out of ten endorsement for your facilities,location and the wonderful people of Iona.


    • June 12, 2012 10:19 am

      Hi Nick,

      Thanks for that and it was a pleasure meeting you all. I’ll look forward to meeting Susan and yourself again -hopefully before too long.

      Best wishes,


  2. February 7, 2014 9:44 am

    A must visit place in Australia is Perth.

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