Yorkshire Dales residents 'feel like they are under seige' from visitors due to staycation boom

A major review has been launched into the impact of tourism on Craven communities which have been left “under siege” from an influx of visitors.

Members of Craven District Council’s select committee will speak with residents, businesses and other public bodies on the problems of the visitor sector that have been highlighted by this year’s staycation boom.

Tourism is a key sector of the local economy with popular destinations including the Yorkshire Dales, Skipton, Malham Cove and Bolton Abbey drawing in hundreds of thousands of visitors a year.

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But it has also led to complaints over clogged up roads and wild camping, as well as pollution and waste problems.

Thousands of people have visited Malham Cove this year

The aim of the review is to understand how tourism can be better managed and to minimise the impact on residents, while councillors have stressed they will not ignore the benefits to the thousands of businesses which rely on the sector.

Speaking at a meeting on Wednesday, Conservative councillor David Staveley, chairman of the select committee, said the district’s handling of visitors had been “haphazard” with “no-one taking ownership”.

He also said Horton-in-Ribblesdale, where most walkers start and finish the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge, was one of the worst-affected areas.

He said: “You have got people in Horton who actually go away every weekend during the summer because they can’t stand to be in their own homes. They feel like they are under siege.

“By all means, the economic aspect of this issue needs to be spoken about and it will be interesting to hear what businesses have to say. But what we are really talking about here is the quality of life for residents.”

The review will span across five months and include several meetings with parish councils, business leaders, emergency services, the Yorkshire Dales National Authority and tourism body Welcome to Yorkshire.

A report will then be produced by January 2022 with a series of recommendations for potential solutions.

Councillor Andy Solloway, leader of the Independent group on the council, said it was key that the review strikes a fair balance as it will inevitably hear opposing views from residents and businesses.

He said: “Businesses which are benefiting widely from tourism will have very different views from the person that is having people park outside the front of their house. We have got to balance this. But this problem is not unique to the Yorkshire Dales because it has happened all over.

“It has particularly happened this past year when people haven’t been able to go abroad. Those who would usually be jetting off have decided to explore another area of the country – and it has had a big impact.

“This may well dissipate next year, but we need to be prepared for tourism and manage it well.”

Councillor Andrew Brown, leader of the Green Party group, also said the Craven district had a lot to learn from other areas which have struggled with large visitor numbers.

He said: “I am a fan of wanting tourism in the Dales. What I think we need to do though is learn from other areas and organisations that have had the impact of tourism on a much larger scale than we have.

“I would like to hear from someone from the Lake District or Devon. Not to hear about what problems they have had, but what fixes they have applied.

“They could give us a real insight into how they have handled things.”