As part of your studies of tourism in GCSE Geography, you will have learnt that tourists can be a huge benefit to an area but their presence creates many conflicts that must be carefully managed. If they are not dealt with, these conflicts can ultimately have a negative effect and the benefits of tourism will be lost. The Lake District is the largest of the twelve National Parks in the UK. It was created in 1951 and has become a popular tourist destination - over twelve million people visit each year. It provides a perfect case study to discover how to create sustainable tourism in an area of outstanding natural beauty. The measures taken in the Lake District provide you with examples that can be extended to almost any tourist area, anywhere in the world.
The reason that the Lake District is so heavily visited is that there is so much to do and see in a relatively small area.
People go to the Lake District to see historic buildings, archaeological sites or to enjoy the lakes and mountains. It is very attractive to people who like doing outdoor activities, some of the most popular include hill walking, rock climbing, mountain biking, fishing and boating. The National Parks Authority is the organisation that must try to balance the conflicting priorities of the different user groups - farmers, tourists, businesses and local residents - as well as looking after the environment.
Tourists coming to the Lake District are essential to the local economy. They spend their money in shops, restaurants, cafes etc, providing employment for local people who live there. They need somewhere to stay, so there are plenty of hotels, guest houses and camping or caravanning sites, also providing income for the local population. Most of the tourists arrive by car or coach, so there needs to be good roads and plenty of parking facilities.
Unfortunately, this is not necessarily good for the environment. Large numbers of walkers can cause footpath erosion and damage to fences or gates on farmers' land. Tourists who do not control their dogs properly can cause harm to livestock. In the most popular areas, the noise and pollution can disturb local residents or wildlife and large numbers of visitors will inevitably lead to both accidental and deliberate littering of an area. The environment then becomes less attractive and local people can become hostile to tourists, putting them off visiting.
The problem with management is that there is rarely a solution that will suit everyone. For example, closing roads to non-local traffic could mean that businesses on the road will lose a lot of potential customers, but people living along the road will benefit from less traffic congestion, less noise, less litter and less air pollution.