International award for tourism in the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) has been awarded the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas.
The Charter is awarded to AONBs and National Parks which have shown a commitment to developing tourism while considering the needs of the environment, local residents, businesses and visitors.
The Cotswolds AONB is just the fourth AONB in England to receive the prestigious award and joins an elite group of 77 members which include some of Europe's most beautiful landscapes such as Cévennes National Park in France, the Cairngorms in Scotland and Spain’s Sierra Nevada National Park.
The Cotswolds Conservation Board has been working closely with tourism authorities and businesses across the area to develop a five-year sustainable tourism strategy and action plan which aims to recognise the Cotswolds as a sustainable visitor destination widely known for its quality and enriching visitor experiences.
An assessor for the award visited the Cotswolds in April to meet some of the businesses and organisations that have demonstrated their green tourism credentials, and meet with members of the Board to discuss the sustainable tourism work carried out to date.
In her final report, the assessor commented on the good work achieved so far. She said: “The Board has established an enthusiastic sustainable tourism partnership and developed a good strategy and action plan……The Cotswolds is a very strong, internationally recognised brand, a tourism ‘superbrand’ and despite the significant challenges of working across 7 counties, the partnership has successfully brought together the relevant stakeholders to act in a co-ordinated way.”
Painswick Rococo Garden, which has a Green Tourism Business Scheme Silver Award, is one of the local tourism businesses that has been working with the Conservation Board to achieve the Charter and welcomed the news. Director Paul Moir said: “This is excellent news for our tourism industry. As a business in the Cotswolds, I fully appreciate the importance of operating in a high quality and well cared-for environment which is loved by visitors. The European Charter award will be a huge boost to us all and sends out a very positive message about the work that we are doing collectively to drive tourism forward in a sustainable way.”
Conservation Board member and Chair of the Cotswolds AONB Sustainable Tourism Partnership, Nick Holliday said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive this award which demonstrates that we are implementing a strategic approach to working with local communities and tourism businesses to deliver tourism that complements and helps to promote our beautiful landscape, nature, culture and heritage, as well as supporting local employment and local produce.”
The European Charter is awarded by Europarc Federation, the organisation that represents protected areas across Europe. The award will be officially presented at this year’s Europarc conference in Germany in September.
Notes to editors:
- Europarc represents approximately 440 members, including protected areas, government departments and businesses in 36 countries across Europe. www.europarc.org.
- The Cotswolds AONB Sustainable Tourism Partnership was set up in 2010 to develop and implement the Cotswolds Sustainable Tourism Strategy. It comprises representatives from destination management organisations, local authorities, tourism businesses, conservation groups and local community organisations.
- The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is looked after by the Cotswolds Conservation Board – an independent organisation with 37 members, 15 nominated by local authorities, 8 by parish councils and 14 appointed by Government.
- The Government has designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and National Parks as our finest countryside and they are recognised as being of national importance.
- The Cotswolds is the second largest protected landscape in England after the Lake District National Park and represents 10% of the total AONB area in the UK. It covers 2,038 square kilometres (790 square miles), stretching from Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north, through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, down to Bath and Wiltshire in the south.
- The Cotswolds AONB is the largest of the family of 46 AONBs in the UK. For further details: www.aonb.org.uk