We're committed to sustainability and work almost exclusively with local, family-run businesses.
For us, true sustainability means promoting and helping to maintain a way of life in remote, often rural locations, where the economic benefit from tourism can make a genuine difference. That’s why we work almost exclusively with local, family-run businesses, not with large corporate organisations. We build close and lasting relationships with our business partners, based on mutual trust and an unerring commitment to customer satisfaction.
We often help companies to develop a new revenue stream through tourism – for example, the creel fisherman who will take you out on his boat while he brings in his catch, which you can then enjoy for lunch, and the owner of an oyster farm who will show you how these delicacies are cultivated in the waters off the west coast of Scotland.
Our wildlife holidays contribute to research and understanding about the species viewed, helping to protect their habitat and future sustainability. Scotland and Ireland offer the chance to see rare and often protected species such as whales, dolphins, basking sharks, otters, badgers and eagles. We believe it is worth getting to know what is on our doorstep without needing to fly half-way around the world!
On our wildlife holidays, we work only with the most knowledgeable and responsible guides and boat-trip operators, who adhere to strict codes on wildlife observance so as not to disturb the animals being viewed. We offer wildlife and whale-watching holidays in both Scotland and Ireland with specialist conservationists and guides, who also collect data on the cetaceans seen, contributing to research on behaviour and habitats. We do not over-promise – these are wild animals, so sightings cannot be guaranteed. Our customers frequently see minke whales in both Scotland and Ireland, and fin whales in Ireland. However, our website does not lead with pictures of killer whales or humpback whales – sightings are rare in these waters, albeit very special when they do happen.
We are continually increasing our range of public transport holidays for those who want to leave the car behind. We grapple with the timetables of trains, boats and buses, and fill-in the gaps with short taxi transfers to make this possible in the more remote areas. Not having a car in-tow can transform your experience, especially on a Scottish or Irish island – exploring on foot and by bike helps you to properly engage with the environment and experience the place at a more appropriate, slower pace.
We directly employ a small team of local people in Glasgow. We offer part-time and flexible working. We ensure staff take at least two recce visits in a year so that they have first-hand experience and knowledge of our products throughout Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales. All staff share our values of environmental and sustainable responsibility.
We are corporate members of the John Muir Trust, an organisation whose mission is to conserve and protect wild places for the benefit of both people and wildlife for generations to come. We believe that in order to truly appreciate the beauty and culture of Scotland, it is necessary protect the beautiful wilderness that calls it home.
We are members of AITO, the Association of Independent Tour Operators, and adhere to their strict code of conduct.
We recognise that Scotland’s coastal environment is as fragile as it is breath-taking. We understand the importance of protecting this environment and those that live in it for future generations.
We were the first tour operator in the UK to offer fully packaged tours including a wildlife and whale watching element in Scotland, something we are very proud of. With this in mind, we have got involved with AITO’s Project Protect. Our pledge is to support the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) to help conserve whales, dolphins and porpoises in Western Scotland. We do this by raising awareness amongst our clients (particularly those travelling to the Isle of Mull) about the organisation, local whale and dolphin species and the need to protect them.
With this commitment, our clients can learn more about local marine life and be given the opportunity to contribute to research into the protection of cetaceans by reporting sightings during their holiday. We hope that this in turn will help enhance their experiences with these amazing creatures and provide special memories to treasure for ever.
Find out more about HWDT and how to get involved at https://hwdt.org/join-support-2
We predominantly market our holidays via the internet. We produce a small quantity of compact brochures each year for past customers and enquirers on request, and try where possible to send these via email rather than by post. If we do have any left over, we ensure these are recycled.
We encourage our customers to try local produce – and provide recommendations for the best places to visit to do this. From seaweed lamb on Shetland and Orkney to langoustines, crabs and scallops caught off the west coast; from many varieties of Scottish cheese to all sorts of Irish bread and baking… not forgetting local ales from microbreweries and the chance to sample a dram of Scotch whisky or Irish whiskey. The accommodation providers we select share this commitment – many have kitchen gardens growing their own herbs, salad and vegetables, and some even have chickens roaming in the grounds to provide eggs for breakfast. Dinner menus focus on local specialities. We make it possible for our holidaymakers to learn more directly from the producers, through a trip with a creel fisherman, a visit to a Scottish oyster farm or a holiday uniquely designed in association with Good Food Ireland.
Every holiday includes “Robert’s Recommendations” – these are our personal recommendations for extra things to see and do during your holiday, such as the best local walks, hidden-gem beaches and visits to local craftspeople – from weavers of Harris tweed in the Outer Hebrides to driftwood sculptors in the west of Ireland.
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Calling from elsewhere?
- UK 0141 260 9260
- USA & Canada (toll-free) 1 866 922 8538
- Australia (toll-free) 1 800 760 824
- Other Countries +44 141 260 9260
- Email hello at mckinlaykidd dot com