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Cairngorms National Park leads the way in Europe

7th December 2017

The Cairngorms National Park has been recognised at a European level as an internationally accredited sustainable tourism destination.

The Cairngorms National Park Authority was re-awarded the prestigious European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas and was invited to present the National Park’s successful strategy at a special ceremony at the European parliament in Brussels today (7 December).

The Cairngorms National Park is the only place in Scotland to hold this award, which it has now held since 2005

CNPA Vice Convener, Brian Wood said: “It is a phenomenal achievement to have been awarded the Charter for the third time and a honour to be chosen to showcase our work to our counterparts in Europe. Achieving Charter status has only been possible due to the hard work and collaboration of a wide range of people – it is a true example of partnership working at its best.”

Two EUROPARC assessors spent three days visiting the National Park in June on an intensive programme of meetings with the CNPA and visits involving key organisations including the Cairngorms Business Partnership, individual businesses and other members of the Cairngorms Tourism Partnership.

The Evaluation Committee unanimously awarded the Charter and praised the work that has taken place so far. In particular the assessors noted the strong partnership with businesses, the involvement of local communities and the proposals to market the National Park. They also gave some pointers for the next five years, including the importance of developing a ‘visitor giving’ scheme to help maintain the Park.

EUROPARC assessor Amanda Guzmán said: “The visit prepared by the CNPA allowed me to meet a large number of stakeholders involved in the Park’s management including some private businesses. The Cairngorms National Park is working and progressing towards sustainable tourism, and it has some examples of excellence that should be disseminated among the Charter Network.”

The Cairngorms Tourism Partnership, which includes representatives of local businesses, communities and conservation interests, has been instrumental in guiding this strategy. As part of this work significant investment has taken place to extend and signpost the path network, improve visitor information and develop new products such as the Snow Roads Scenic Route.

CNPA Board member Paul Easto is Chair of the Cairngorms Tourism Partnership, he said: “I am delighted that the Cairngorms National Park has once again received this important award.  This is a meaningful endorsement of the National Park being a very special place in which to live and visit.

“Within the last year there has been significant publicity in Scotland and elsewhere about the need to develop and grow tourism destinations in a sustainable way. Tourism is hugely important to the local economy of the National Park. We want to continue to develop, promote and manage tourism in a responsible manner, attracting visitors from home and overseas while looking after the natural and cultural assets that make the Park such a great place to experience.”

EUROPARC Federation Director, Carol Ritchie, said:  “The Cairngorms National Park is leading the way in Scotland, with a strong local partnership focus to sustainable tourism that will deliver for people and for nature. Importantly their connection with EUROPARC and the ‘Charter for Sustainable Tourism.’ gives them access to the best ideas from our European network to bring to their area. We are delighted to continue to award them and see the innovation and progress they have made over the years.”

Chris Taylor, VisitScotland Regional Partnerships Director, said: I would like to congratulate the Cairngorms National Park Authority and all other partners involved in the re-award of the Sustainable Tourism Charter. They should be praised for being the only accredited sustainable tourism destination in Scotland through the excellent work they are doing.

“Sustainable practices have become more and more important to visitors, businesses and communities alike, and our research shows us that the vast majority of tourism businesses are already undertaking a number of basic sustainability actions. In recognition of this, VisitScotland has included sustainability actions as a minimum standard in our Quality Assurance scheme since 2015.

“The Highlands continues to evolve and develop as a popular tourism destination and as a result, it does impact on natural resources, consumption patterns, pollution and social systems. It is of paramount importance that sustainable and responsible planning and management are prioritised.”