Yorkshire Dales bid for sustainable tourism award
A TOURISM partnership has launched a bid to win official sustainable tourism status for the Yorkshire Dales and Harrogate.
If successful, the area would become one of just 48 regions in Europe to receive the prestigious European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas award.
Official verification officer Bettina Kreisel visited the Yorkshire Dales and Harrogate for three days to judge the bid, and was shown round some of the area’s most spectacular scenery and innovative tourist industries.
The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority applied for the Charter on behalf of the Yorkshire Dales and Harrogate Tourism Partnership which has the job of promoting the area as a sustainable tourism destination.
No other part of Yorkshire has received the award, and only five other areas of the United Kingdom have been recognised since the scheme was launched in 2001.
The awards are run by the EUROPARC Federation, an umbrella organisation with its headquarters in Germany that brings together the organisations responsible for the management of over 400 protected areas across the continent.
The internationally-recognised European Charter is awarded to protected areas that support “sustainable tourism” – tourism that contributes to local economic development while preserving the area’s natural and cultural resources. Current holders include Spain’s Parque Natural de Sierra Nevada, Italy’s Parco delle Alpi Marittime, as well as the Cairngorms and the Brecon Beacons in this country.
Ms Kreisel was taken on a tour of the region that included a visit to Harrogate, Bolton Abbey, Malham Cove, the Settle-Carlisle Railway, Fountains Abbey, Reeth’s craft workshops and Aysgarth Falls.
It will benefit the Yorkshire Dales and Harrogate areas enormously
Steve Macare - Partnership Chairman
Partnership members are waiting on tenterhooks to hear if the bid has been successful, according to Partnership Chairman Steve Macare.
“It will be a very tense time for us until the announcement is made,” he said.
“The Charter recognises National Parks that are following the right approach in developing and managing sustainable tourism. It will benefit the Yorkshire Dales and Harrogate areas enormously by giving them a higher profile throughout EUROPARC’s 38 member countries and it will strengthen relations with local tourism stakeholders and the wider tourism industry and be good for the local economy.
“Once the Charter has been awarded, it will be possible for individual tourism businesses to apply for Charter status in their own right, which will be good for the local economies.
“The status is also sure to bring in new ideas that will improve the ways in which tourism and the protection of special areas can coexist and benefit each other.”
Photo shows: EUROPARC verifier Bettina Kreisel meets Robert White, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Senior Conservation Archaeologist at Ribblehead