Spotlight falls on national park and its tourists
The importance of tourism to a national park area – and the vital lead a national park can take in promoting tourism – will be among the themes of a major conference being staged on Exmoor in early November, at the same time as the area's new local plan is being put out to consultation in communities across the hills.
The annual Exmoor tourism conference is this year being held at Lynmouth under the title Capitalising on our Natural Assets and will include professionally run seminars aimed at inspiring tourism providers to market the outstanding natural environment of the greater national park area, which includes the West Somerset and North Devon coasts and the Quantock Hills.
Among the key speakers will be Lyndsey Swift, Visit England's head of strategic partnerships, who will talk about the importance of national parks to the tourism industry.
Laura Holt, marketing manager of North Devon+, will be outlining seasonal trends and delegates will be given an update on the achievements of the Exmoor Tourism Partnership over the last year.
Meanwhile, also in the first week of November, the Exmoor National Park Authority's (ENPA) Draft Local Plan will be put out for consultation and among other topics it will highlight the balance between local needs and tourism provision within the area.
The policies to be discussed by local people will include the support or otherwise for the provision of local affordable housing for those who live or work in the area and have difficulty in meeting the high property prices or rents.
The plan also includes policies set up to assist in the provision of specialist housing for the older generation and for those who require care.
Local people will be invited to discuss the need for an increased flexibility within the national park that would encourage entrepreneurship plus new policies to aid hotels, guesthouses and new forms of camping and the ENPA's continued support for farm diversification.
The plan also highlights the need for the continued protection of community facilities, including shops, cafés, pubs and post offices. There's a section on climate change and also new policies which aim to promote the broadband and telecommunications network in the area.
David Wyborn, ENPA's head of planning and sustainable development, said: "To get the plan to this stage, we have consulted with local communities, organisations and individuals with an interest in caring for Exmoor. Together with other important evidence, including the results of a residents and visitor survey and consultation, the views expressed and information from these events have been central in drafting the plan now out for consultation.
"The plan will help shape Exmoor over the long term and we welcome thoughts and comments on it. The final document will be used to inform future planning decisions – so it is in everyone's interest to take the time to have a look through the issues which may affect them, as a resident, landowner, business owner or visitor to Exmoor."
The Draft Local Plan, response form, and details of how to respond can be found at www.exmoor-nationalpark. gov.uk
To book a place at the tourism seminar on November 7 (price £13) visit: www.exmoor tourismpartnership.org.uk/exmoor-tourism-conference