The European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas is awarded to National Parks and other protected areas that follow a sustainable approach in managing and developing tourism.
After five years of highly successful partnership work the National Park joins an elite group of only four in the UK to receive the Charter, and just 36 organisations throughout Europe that care for some of the continent’s most beautiful and dramatic landscapes.
A wide range of private businesses, tourism and countryside organisations joined forces with the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority to create the ‘Brecon Beacons Sustainable Tourism Partnership’, enabling an extensive programme of work to establish the area as a key tourism destination to be completed.
In awarding the Charter, the Europarc Federation was highly complimentary about the efforts of the Authority and its many partners awarding them a ‘three star’ status denoting examples of international good practice) for several projects – particularly Beacons Bus, activity tourism products and local food initiatives. Activity tourism included the creation of a number of new cycling, horse riding and walking routes and the development of easy-to-use tourism websites for visitors to help plan their stay. In addition, much has been done to limit the impact of visitors on the environment, always aware that this most precious asset is what they come to experience. The Authority has played a leading role is developing sustainable tourism practices, successfully helping almost 70 businesses achieve the coveted Green Dragon environmental standard.
The Authority has managed the Beacons Bus project which has resulted in fewer cars on the road and allowing many visitors without transport easy access to the National Park. Local food has also been the focus of many promotions resulting in a welcome reduction in food miles within the Park; and all new recreational routes are constantly checked and monitored to prevent damage to both flora and fauna.
Chris Gledhill, Chief Executive for the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, said: “I am extremely proud that all the hard work by my staff in tourism development has been recognised in this way. And I am grateful to our partners for working so closely with us to achieve this honour.
“The Authority, local businesses and public bodies have combined well to create sustainable tourism in the area, resulting in an admirable growth rate in tourism income of almost eight per cent above inflation since the Foot and Mouth Crisis back in 2001.
“I am also delighted that the Europarc Federation has recommended that the National Park’s ‘Sustainable Tourism Strategy’ be made available to others as an example of good practice. Indeed, I have already had approaches from other National Parks in the UK.”
Dee Reynolds, Regional Strategy Director for Tourism Partnership Mid Wales, said: “The Brecon Beacons National Park is an important icon for tourism in Wales. The award of the Charter demonstrates the way we are working together and we look forward to continuing to help grow tourism in the area.”
And Gareth Thomas Powys, Head of Regeneration and Economic Development at Powys County Council, added: “The Brecon Beacons are a vitally important part of Powys’s tourism economy. We are proud to have been a partner in this work and to exceeding the expectations of visitors throughout the county.”
For further information contact Richard Tyler, Sustainable Tourism Manager, Brecon Beacons National Park; telephone (Monday, September 10 and Tuesday, September 11 only): 07967 980678; from Wednesday, September 11: 01874