THE Cairngorms National Park Authority is hosting a major European conference on sustainable tourism this week.
Tourism bosses from national parks around Europe are attending the four-day EUROPARC’s European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas conference. The event is taking place at Hilton Craigendarroch Hotel, Ballater, from Tuesday 12th June.
It is being funded by the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), Scottish Natural Heritage and Scottish Enterprise Grampian.
Around 40 delegates from national parks and protected areas around Europe that have been accredited, or are working towards, the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas are attending. The Cairngorms National Park was the first ever Park in the UK to achieve the Charter.
It is only the second meeting of the charter group and it is hoped the event will encourage those in attendance to share their good practice and to promote and develop sustainable tourism.
The visitors will also be given a tour of the Cairngorms National Park to highlight the area’s different tourism destinations and activities. Amongst the trips will be a visit to Aviemore; canoeing on the River Spey; mountain biking in Rothiemurchus Estate; a visit to RSPB’s Loch Garten reserve; a tour of the famous Crathie Kirk and Balmoral Castle and a trip to Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve.
A series of workshops and seminars will also be held throughout the four days ranging from topics such as developing sustainable tourism; involving tourism businesses and balancing recreation and natural heritage.
Heather Galbraith, the CNPA’s Sustainable Tourism Officer, said: “The CNPA is delighted to be hosting this event. Europe’s national parks and protected areas are vital not only in terms of their natural heritage, but also for what they can offer the public.
“It is important that these areas are protected in way that also encourages and supports both tourism and the tourist over the long-term. There is already a lot of good work going on in this area and the conference will hopefully allow us all to share that and learn from it.”
Eric Baird, vice convener of the CNPA and who is attending the event, said: “National Parks are hugely popular with visitors and rightly so and they are also very important in terms of the environment.
“The Cairngorms National Park is an excellent example of that – over a third of the Park is of international conservation significance so it means protecting the Park, whilst encouraging visitors to enjoy the area, is one of our most important tasks.
“This is an excellent opportunity to learn from other national parks and also to encourage and support each other in what is becoming an increasingly important area.”
The delegates will arrive at the Hilton Craigendarroch Hotel on Tuesday 12th June. The conference starts on Wednesday 13th.