The Cairngorms National Park is one step closer to achieving the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas with the visit this week of an assessor from the Europarc Federation.
If successful, the Cairngorms National Park will be the first National Park in the UK to be awarded the prestigious accolade, with news of the application expected in July.
The European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas aims to encourage good practice by identifying those Parks which are meeting high standards for the sustainable development and management of tourism.
The Charter is awarded by Europarc, an umbrella organisation of over 500 protected areas across 37 countries, and any Park or protected area can apply for recognition that they are meeting the requirements of the Charter.
Richard Partington, a landscape, rural affairs and sustainable tourism professional, has been selected by Europarc to carry out the assessment. He will spend two days (Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 May) in the Cairngorms National Park meeting with a variety of organisations and individuals and visiting various attractions.
Included on the itinerary for the assessor’s visit are Crathie Opportunity Holidays (disabled holiday provision), the Eastern Cairngorms Access Project and CairnGorm Mountain.
Speaking ahead of his visit, Mr Partington outlined the how the assessment would be carried out and the key areas he would be looking at.
“I will be meeting local stakeholders to ensure that a true partnership exists between all those implicated by tourism and that common understanding and shared goals are both appropriate and achievable. In addition to the assessment report for the Charter Evaluation Committee I will also provide the Cairngorms National Park Authority with advice and helpful feedback,” he said.
Jane Hope, the CNPA’s Chief Executive – who will meet with Mr Partington – said: “Tourism is extremely important to the economy of the Cairngorms but it has to be managed carefully so that the special qualities of the Park are not compromised. We are delighted to have Richard Partington in the Park this week and hope that our application for the Charter will be successful.”
The CNPA’s Sustainable Tourism Officer, Debbie Strang added: “A major tool in helping us to deliver our objectives in relation to sustainable tourism is our ‘Strategy and Action Plan for Sustainable Tourism’. This document outlines a range of priorities for action including environment management and conservation; information and interpretation; visitor management; partnership working and community involvement.
“This strategy and action plan forms the basis of our application for the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected areas and has been developed in partnership with lots of interested parties including private, public, voluntary and community organisations. If we are successful, it will be credit to all those involved.”