The Lake District

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.

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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.

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  1. Why has the National Trust and other conservation groups carried out maintenance of countryside footpaths?
    Large numbers of walkers on popular country footpaths damage vegetation and the paths can become many metres wide especially in wet areas as walkers try to find a drier way through. This can then lead to increased erosion when it rains. Using stones to pave the paths reduces erosion and allows the vegetation at the edges of the paths to recover
  2. Who needs to be involved in managing tourism in the Lake District?
    The National Park Authority also must be involved
  3. How does tourism benefit the Lake District?
    Tourism can have huge social, economic and environmental benefits for rural regions when it is sustainably managed
  4. The village of Elterwater has enlarged the car park on the edge of the village and restricted parking in the village itself. How does this benefit locals AND tourists?
    The other three answers are benefits to just one or the other user groups
  5. The speed limit for boats on Lake Windermere was reduced to 10 mph in March 2005. Which of the following is NOT a result of the change?
    Water-skiers, powerboat owners and businesses that rented out powerboats opposed the speed limit as it meant that they could no longer operate on the lake
  6. Which of the following is a reason for visiting the Lake District?
    The Lake District offers many different tourist activities
  7. Which of the following would benefit farmers?
    One of the problems for farmers is damage to fences as walkers cross their land. The broken fences allow sheep and cattle to escape from where they are supposed to be, so farmers will have to spend time finding the animals and repairing the damage
  8. How can the National Park Authority get tourists to help look after the Lake District?
    Educational posters and leaflets can be made available at visitor centres and tourist information points. Reminder notices like 'Please take your litter home and keep to the footpaths' can be placed in popular areas
  9. Which of the following would be a PRACTICAL way of reducing traffic congestion in the Lake District?
    By improving the public transport system, many tourists could be encouraged to leave their cars at their accommodation or use park and ride schemes
  10. Which of the following is a social disadvantage of tourism in the Lake District?
    The conversion of local shops to sell to tourists leaves locals without essential services like a butcher or greengrocer

Author: Kev Woodward

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