Hopes of £20 million boost to tourism as Lake District is named World Heritage Site
The Lake District National Park was officially named as a World Heritage site during July 2017 – bringing hopes of a £20 million boost to Cumbria’s economy.
The Lakes was one of 33 sites around the world to be considered at a meeting of the UNESCO committee in Krakow, Poland, on 9 July 2017 and was praised for its beauty, farming and the inspiration it has provided to artists and writers. The region, famed for its stunning scenery, joins the likes of the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China and the Grand Canyon and is the UK’s first national park to be given the status.
Lord Clark of Windermere, chairman of the Lake District National Park Partnership which put together the bid, described the decision as “momentous”.
“A great many people have come together to make this happen and we believe the decision will have long and lasting benefits for the spectacular Lake District landscape, the visitors we welcome every year and for the people who call the National Park their home,” he added.
The UNESCO delegates heard the Lake District had been trying to obtain the World Heritage site status since 1986.
Steve Ratcliffe, director of sustainable development at the Lake District National Park, said the application had been a “long time in the making” and he was “incredibly proud” of the landscape which has been shaped by nature, farming and industry.
He told the committee: “The Lake District now becomes an international and global property and we look forward to working with you and our communities to make sure this site inspires future generations around the world.”
The team behind the Lake District bid have estimated that gaining UNESCO status could boost the local economy by around £20 million per year. This estimate is calculated on the basis of a one per cent switch to cultural visitors who typically spend more than other visitors on accommodation, leisure and food and drink. In addition, it is expected that World Heritage site status should help attract more funding and investment into the Lake District and that the profile of the area will be elevated internationally.
South Lakes MP Tim Farron commented: “This is fantastic news for our area, and for the local tourist economy. This well-deserved status is a formal recognition of the outstanding natural beauty of the Lake District, and will help to further promote our area as the UK’s leading rural tourist destination and attract visitors.”
Some 18 million people visit the Lake District each year, spending a total of £1.2 billion and providing about 18,000 jobs. It is home to England’s largest natural lake, Windermere, and highest mountain, Scafell Pike. It is the 31st place in the UK to make the list, following in the footsteps of Stonehenge, the city of Bath and Canterbury Cathedral.