A NEW eco-tourism strategy has been launched to protect the famous landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales while attracting more visitors to boost the multi-million-pound industry.
A sustainable tourism network has been established involving businesses and representatives from both the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Tourism businesses will share ideas on how to attract more visitors without damaging the fragile environment, and it is hoped the network will ultimately be extended across the national park and AONB.
The park authority’s sustainable tourism manager, Julie Barker, said: “We wanted to start small and test out our ideas, but we now feel confident and ready to invite any businesses interested in sustainable tourism to get involved.”
The network’s members already comprise accommodation providers including farm stays such as Scaife Hall Farm, country house hotels including Swinton Park and the Austwick Traddock and log cabins at the Jonas Centre at Redmire, near Leyburn.
The owners of the Bolton Abbey estate, visitor attractions such as How Stean Gorge and businesses including Swaledale Cheese have also signed up to the project.
Tourism is worth £184.5m annually to the economy of Richmondshire alone, which covers a large chunk of the northern part of the national park, supporting more than 4,500 jobs during the peak season.
A number of participating businesses including Cottage in the Dales and Swinton Park already hold a Green Tourism Business Scheme Award.
It is now hoped more organisations will adopt eco-friendly practices to protect the national park and AONB, while also providing economic benefits for themselves such as lower fuel bills.