The Minister responsible for the three Welsh National Parks was at Peterstone Court, Llanhamlach, on Thursday, March 21st to join Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, local businesses and residents in celebrating the re-award of the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas and the revalidation of Fforest Fawr Geopark – Wales’ first Geopark.
Addressing those present the Minister praised Brecon Beacons National Park Authority and its partners for supporting and assisting small businesses with good ideas and energy and helping transfer their ideas into economic benefit. He also commended the hard work and dedication of partners to conserve the natural environment, providing a sustainable future for the precious landscape in the National Park.
Representatives from Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, Brecon Beacons Tourism, Talybont Rural Alliance and a Sustainable Tourism Champion business met with the Minister to share the positive impact of collaborative sustainable tourism work in the National Park.
The Minister for Culture and Sport heard how the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas had been achieved thanks to successful working between public and private sector bodies. The Charter is awarded to stakeholder partnerships from economic, community and environmental sectors for working together to develop the local economy through tourism while at the same time protecting the special natural qualities of the area. He also learned more about the National Park Authority’s Rural Alliances project funded by the European Union’s Interreg IVB with match funding from the Welsh Government. This innovative project supports businesses working with their local communities to develop tourism. The Minister was interested to hear about the Rural Alliances-funded National Park Ambassador knowledge transfer scheme and Green Tourism programme.
The event also saw the National Park Authority and partners celebrate the revalidation of Fforest Fawr Geopark, which covers much of the Western half of Brecon Beacons National Park. The Minister spoke with the National Park Authority’s Geopark Development Officer Alan Bowring about the revalidation process and the new Geopark Ambassador scheme completed by eight businesses so far.
Following his visit, Minister for Culture and Sport, John Griffiths said: “With the award of the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas comes recognition of all the hard work to improve the experiences of those visiting the National Park, as well as enhancing the quality of life for those living and working in the area.
“Geopark status also demonstrates how successful the Park Authority and its partners are at protecting the natural environment. By conserving and enhancing these special resources we are securing for future generations these magnificent areas.”
Geraint Hopkins, Deputy Chairman of Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, said: “I am delighted that the Minister was able to join us for the Sustainable Tourism Partnership event at Peterstone Court and hear about the excellent work taking place here in the National Park. The re-award of the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism is a demonstration of the National Park Authority’s on-going commitment to working with our fellow business, community and environmental stakeholders, while the revalidation of Fforest Fawr Geopark by the European Geoparks Network is a fantastic accolade for an area like ours.
“It was great, also, to see that so many partners, businesses and residents were in attendance to help us celebrate this special achievement.”