Forest of Bowland wins international acclaim

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AN Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which covers a big chunk of Pendle countryside has been runner-up in a international award.

The Forest of Bowland AONB is runner-up in the prestigious “Best Destination” award from the International Responsible Tourism Awards.

The honour was presented to the AONB as part of World Responsible Tourism Day at the World Travel Market in London, sponsored by Virgin Holidays.

The Forest of Bowland AONB is largely in the Ribble Valley, but includes Pendle Hill, Barley, Roughlee, Newchurch and the Nick of Pendle.

The Bowland team are delighted to be runner-up for the best destination award; the accolade is testament to a collective effort of the AONB team, partner organisations, community groups and, most of all, tourism businesses themselves who have worked hard over the last five years to deliver tourism with sustainability at the core.

County Coun. Albert Atkinson, chairman of the Joint Advisory Committee for the AONB, said: “This is an outstanding achievement for the AONB and is a reflection of the commitment of the team and businesses to develop tourism in a way that is sensitive to the protected landscape of the Forest of Bowland.

“I think it will really put Bowland on the map as an international sustainable tourism destination and will entice visitors to the area to stay in quality accommodation and experience some of the wonderful low impact activities on offer.”

Since 2005, the Forest of Bowland AONB team has developed a programme of sustainable tourism activity and works closely with tourism organisations, businesses and communities.

Work has included supporting businesses to develop sustainable activities; working with communities to celebrate their special and distinctive qualities; developing new walking, cycling and horse riding opportunities; developing marketing materials to promote local businesses and communities; supporting businesses to undertake green accreditation and providing training for tourism staff and businesses.

The AONB has also been instrumental in setting up Bowland Experience Ltd - a company established by Bowland tourism businesses, which aims to provide a “business-to-business” network for supporting and promoting the tourism businesses of the Forest of Bowland AONB area.

Previous winners of the Best Destination Category include Aspen, Colorado, Cape Town and the New Forest. The winner for 2011 was Røros in Norway.