|The senior party and local business representatives at Aysgarth Falls. |
Photo courtesy of Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.
Lady Penelope Cobham, chair of VisitEngland, Environment Minister Richard Benyon and Paul Hamblin, director of National Parks England also listened to the views of local businesses during an informal meeting at Aysgarth Falls National Park Centre.
Broadband rollout and planning policies were among the key issues raised during the gathering which was hosted by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority. The event saw the signing of a major partnership agreement between VisitEngland and National Parks England to boost tourism and stimulate sustainable economic growth in England’s ten national parks.
It follows the launch of a country-wide campaign called Love Your National Parks to highlight all the reasons why they are so important to the nation.
The three guests met owners of some of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority's Brilliant Businesses – tourism businesses that have developed in a sustainable way, especially where it has given them some business advantage.
Diane Howarth, who runs Cottage in the Dales, luxury self-catering holiday cottages in Wensleydale and Bishopdale, said: “The principles of the partnership are absolutely correct – promoting national parks, making them sustainable and addressing transport issues to make them more accessible for all.
"It’s a matter of getting the message out for people to visit and businesses small and large to invest in the national parks – and a pragmatic planning policy underpins the long-term sustainability.”
National Park Authority chief executive David Butterworth said: “The idea of the meeting was to give some of the people running local tourism businesses the chance to have their say and share some of their needs and expectations with some of the movers and shakers nationally.
“The success of local businesses is absolutely vital to the long-term wellbeing of the whole of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Authority is doing everything it can to ensure that not only do they survive but that they also grow in a sustainable way that will benefit all the communities.”
Earlier in the afternoon, Lady Cobham was taken on a visit to Gayle Mill and to the Wensleydale Creamery. This year VisitEngland, which is the national tourist board for England, recruited Wensleydale cheese lover Wallace and his faithful hound Gromit as "tourism trailblazers" to inspire Britons to take a holiday at home this year.
Lady Cobham then saw the gruelling climb up Buttertubs Pass that cyclists will face in next year’s Tour de France Grand Depart through the national park. The route up Buttertubs is known as a challenging cycle climb and will feature as one of two King of the Mountains climbs in Stage One of the 2014 Tour de France.