Nature Tourism: making shapes!

(c) George Stoyle

As our Yorkshire Nature Triangle project comes to an end, Nature Tourism Manager, Helen Jones, looks back at how Yorkshire Wildlife Trust helped to shape a £24 million nature tourism economy in East Yorkshire over a course of a decade. Read Part 1 of her series below...

When Yorkshire Wildlife Trust first revealed its plans to lead a nature tourism project in East Yorkshire back in 2010, a few eyebrows were raised. Why would a conservation charity be getting involved in the economies of tourism? It certainly was a new departure for us but it was the perfect moment to act on growing trends…

Following the financial crash of 2008, we kept calm as a nation and went on staycation! This was the era in which our holiday habits began to change and the UK was being rediscovered. We were finding hidden gems all over our green and pleasant lands, cottage companies became cool and ‘glamping’ was introduced into our vocab. Excitingly, seeing and experiencing wildlife was part of this trend too.

Worldwide, the number of people travelling to see wildlife was significantly rising (by 20% a year). When you think of wildlife tourism, African plains and the ‘big five’ or whales swimming alongside passenger boats in Canada might spring into mind. Not necessarily puffins in Yorkshire!

Puffin Cliff

Examples began to emerge of wildlife tourism experiences in less well-known destinations. Visitors were able to engage with nature at close hand and local communities could offer something different to tourists.

In Scotland, nature tourism was well and truly established.  Research revealed that nature tourism was worth £60 million annually to North Norfolk due to its strong network of nature reserves.

So why not East Yorkshire? Its dramatic chalk cliffs, mighty Humber and stunning chalk streams provide a stunning backdrop enjoy some of the very best of British wildlife.

From puffins, gannets, otters, kingfishers, whales and dolphins to thousands of migrating birds in the spring and autumn, the lands and shores of the region are abundant with wildlife.

Wildlife watching at Filey

(c) Emma Lusby

East Yorkshire was also a perfect candidate for a tourism boost. Home to some of the most disadvantaged towns in the UK, tourism can help to boost the economy and bring prosperity. Tourism at the time was limited to seasonal visits to the seaside.

It was brave for a conservation organisation to take the lead on a tourism project. But with nature tourism markets on the rise globally, world-class wildlife viewing on our doorstep and strong case studies to learn from, it was time to formulate our plan.

Our vision to preserve and develop wildlife habitat whilst growing and sustaining a nature tourism market gained support and began to take shape.