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Guest Blog by Oliver Maurice, Director of International National Trusts Organisation
As a founder member of the Lake District Tourism and Conservation Partnership, as it was originally known in 1994, and a subsequent Chairman I have to admit to an element of bias in writing this blog.
As a Director of INTO, a membership organisation with 65 heritage organisations around the world having so far joined since our foundation in 2007, one of my roles is advocacy. In that capacity I frequently quote the exemplary practice performed by Nurture Lakeland.
The principle upon which Nurture Lakeland was founded, that the tourist industry would not exist were it not for the Cumbria landscape and that therefore there should be some recompense from the industry towards those striving to maintain that landscape, has relevance across the globe.
Two weeks ago I attended, in Bonn, the annual meeting of the UN Environment Progamme’s Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism (www.globalsustainabletourism.com) , of which INTO is a partner, as I had done two years earlier in Costa Rica. On both occasions I spoke about the success of Nurture Lakeland, the partnership between the tourist industry and the conservation organisations based on Vistor Giving or Payback .
Following the meeting in Bonn there was an optional tour to the Eifel National Park which was only designated as such in 2009. Interestingly the National Park Authority and the local Tourist Board have formed an alliance with the tourist industry whereby, provided members of the industry meet certain strict sustainability criteria they are classified as National Park ‘Hosts’ and are given prominence in all the National Park and Tourist Board’s advertsising material. As yet there is no Visitor Giving scheme but I did discuss the principles with those that I met and they were extremely interested. They now have Nurture Lakeland’s website address !
Every other year INTO holds its own conference for all its members and many other interested parties besides. This provides the opportunity to promote end exchange best practice. In relation to sustainable tourism this is a crucial focus for INTO as it is centrally relevant to all our members where they are owners or custodians of the cultural (built) or natural heritage. At the last three conferences I have promoted the work of Nurture Lakeland and I have no doubt that I will be doing the same this year when we meet in Entebbe, Uganda, at the end of September.
As a postscript, it was interesting to hear in Bonn from the owner of a small hotel chain in Sri lanka that he did not believe in sustainability accreditation. There were, he said, too many different accreditation schemes. He told us that the number of patrons staying at his hotels was his accreditation !
In closing I would like to wish Nurture Lakeland all the success that it so richly deserves.