Discovering Pendle Hill through Sustainable Tourism
The Discover Pendle Hill Project is about working with tourism businesses located around the hill and providing new opportunities for visitors with an emphasis on sustainable tourism. So when we talk about sustainable what do we actually mean? And why is it so important that we engage with the tourism businesses themselves?
|Assheton Arms - Foodie Foray Event|
Sustainable tourism is about developing opportunities that will have minimal impact on the landscape and communities. It's about promoting and attracting visitors to an area, and encouraging them to experience and enjoy the place, whilst not spoiling it for other visitors or local people. We often refer to sustainable tourism being about encouraging quiet enjoyment, and re investing in the economy and communities which support that landscape, and also ensuring it stays special for many years to come!
So while we, as a partnership, can promote this ideology and those opportunities that focus on quiet enjoyment, this only goes half way to minimising the impact of tourism. What is also key is getting the businesses themselves on-board working towards that common goal.
Sustainable tourism isn't a new approach for us, the Forest of Bowland AONB has been supporting a programme of work for last 13 years. The key to its success has been the engagement with businesses. Because foremost, as a partnership we have limited access or interaction with visitors to pass on this vital information and secondly, conversations with businesses enables us to encourage them to develop their own business in a way that respects the landscape and supports the community in which they are located.
|Gisburn Forest by Jon Sparks|
Those initial conversations with businesses are just the start of the process, and sustainable tourism at a destination level, or even a smaller scale (as it is for the Pendle Hill Scheme) needs time and patience. Businesses will engage with initiatives that resonate most with them, not everything is a perfect fit, so for us as an organisation it's about providing many opportunities that businesses can link with. Having said that, developing a sustainable tourism network for all businesses wishing to be involved is vital, to provide those networking opportunities and exchange of information and ideas. The Forest of Bowland sustainable tourism network has been active for the last 12 years in the AONB, and we'll be encouraging more businesses within the Pendle Hill LP area to be part of this in the next few years.
|Forest of Bowland Sustainable Tourism Network|
One of the key projects which has been a big success within wider Bowland, is the Sense of Place project. Sense of Place has helped businesses over the years to gain a better understanding of what makes Bowland so special, what makes it locally distinctive, and how to use these messages in the marketing of their own businesses. Sense of Place refers to the elements that make a place special, such as memories of past visits, views, sounds, people, tastes, even the smell of the place! During 2019 we'll be developing a sense of place toolkit for Pendle Hill, to increase awareness and understanding of this beautiful part of the AONB drawing on its own distinctiveness, but also applying elements from the existing wider Bowland toolkit.
Another key initiative that has enabled businesses to address their own approaches and day to day business operations has been to support them through green accreditation. Over 40 businesses have achieved green awards over the last 10 years in Bowland, and while they may have joined and left various schemes, the framework and practices they have adopted for their businesses – to operate in an environmentally friendly way – have remained. The reason we support individual businesses through this process is because of how rigorous these schemes can be, and how they address every aspect of 'being green' – from water use, waste and energy to the provision of information on walking, cycling and wildlife watching as well as their commitments to supporting the local community. Over the next three years we'd love to hear from businesses in the Pendle Hill area who want to adopt this approach, either formally through an accreditation scheme, or informally to develop new ideas amongst their staff. This a great way for businesses to begin to understand what being a sustainable tourism business is all about.
|Lancashire Green Tourism Project|
|Pendle Star Trails by Robert Ince|
Sustainable tourism also incorporates our dark skies work in developing the quiet enjoyment of the area at night! And while the landscapes of the Forest of Bowland are captivating by day, after the sun sets there’s a whole new world to discover in the dark skies over Bowland. Businesses in the Pendle Hill area will have the opportunity to become 'Dark Sky Friendly' and gear themselves up for providing the best opportunities for staying visitors wishing to venture out into the night.
Similarly, the celebration and promotion of local food is very much linked to our sustainable tourism work – delicious local food and drink is one of the AONB's sense of place themes. This theme acknowledges that farming methods have shaped our land – creating field patterns with dry stone-walls and hedgerows; farmsteads and barns. Without food production our countryside would look very different! Our Foodie Foray was launched in the autumn to begin some early engagement with the food businesses in the Pendle Hill area – it was a celebration of the local food producers and the distinctive local dishes found at the foot of our landmark hill. The five-day programme included walks, talks, foraging and feasting, linking with local eateries and producers on both sides of the hill. Overall it was a great success and hopefully got visitors and businesses thinking more about food provenance and the importance of supporting local food producers and our local economy.
|Foodie Foray Herbal Medicine Walk|
|Foodie Foray Foraging Walk|
If you're a tourism business reading this and want to find out more about how you can link with our sustainable tourism work and the opportunities coming up over the next few years, then we'd love to hear from you – email firstname.lastname@example.org Or if you’re a visitor or local person, hopefully it's given you an insight into why and how we approach the development of tourism in a sustainable way, and maybe you'll be able to experience first-hand how collectively these kind of developments can have a positive and lasting impact.
Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas – enjoy buying local this festive period and if you're venturing out for a walk or cycle ride maybe combine it with a visit to a café, pub or shop and help support your local communities and economy!