The South West’s 20 protected landscapes, including the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), have been awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Tourism accolade at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards.
The award was presented at a gala evening, held at the Riviera International Centre in Torquay earlier in the month. Victoria Graham of BBC Spotlight hosted the event.
The South West’s protected landscapes consists of 13 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, two national parks, the South West coast paths, the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, the Cornwall & West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site and the UNESCO Global Geopark and Biosphere Reserve. None of these charge an entry fee, yet they remain one of the primary reasons why visitors choose the region as a destination, contributing significantly to the visitor economy.
The award recognises the volunteers and key staff that manage the assets of some of the region’s most beautiful countryside under the constant pressures of having to retain funding in order to give visitors the best possible experience.
Linda Nunn, director of the Cranborne Chase AONB, said, “We are delighted to be recognised along with the other jewels in the crown of tourism in the South West. We know that the many gems within our own AONB are a magnet for tourists, but this award principally shows that collectively the value of protected landscapes really is appreciated.
“At Cranborne Chase AONB we are not standing still, however, as we have been working hard to achieve International Dark Sky Reserve status. If we achieve this incredible accolade it would encourage ever more visitors to our wonderful AONB to view our incredibly dark skies – some of the darkest skies in England – and this would further boost revenue for local accommodation providers and other related businesses,” continued Linda.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reported that parts of the country’s natural capital, including protected landscapes such as those in the South West, contributed £16bn to the economy in 2015, with an estimated contribution of £761bn forecast over the next 100 years.
The full list of Outstanding Contribution to Tourism winners are: Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, Dartmoor National Park, Exmoor National Park, Isles of Scilly AONB, Cornwall AONB, East Devon AONB, North Devon AONB, South Devon AONB, Tamar Valley AONB, Dorset AONB, Cranborne Chase AONB, Mendip Hills AONB, Blackdown Hills AONB, Quantock Hills AONB, North Wessex Downs AONB, Cotswolds AONB, North Devon UNESCO Biosphere, The Cornwall & West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site, English Riviera UNESCO Geopark and South West Coast Path.
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