University of Exeter: ‘Manage tourism and nature to boost both,’ report says

The research reports – led by the University of Exeter and funded by the UKRI’s Strategic Priorities Fund – identify ways to develop “positive synergies” between the visitor economy and the protection and enhancement of nature in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Recommendations include creating local networks with “community buy-in” to ensure the benefits of tourism are spread widely.

These networks could support “nature recovery projects”, partly funded by donations from visitors.

The reports also recommend nature education for hospitality staff, allowing them to act as champions of the local environment.

“The pandemic has boosted the selling power of the natural environment of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly,” said Professor Jane Wills, director of the Environment and Sustainability Institute on Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

“We know that record numbers of people are wanting to visit and at the same time, we know that it is more urgent than ever to protect and restore our precious ecosystems.

“This research project has identified new initiatives that can help us generate positive synergies between the visitor economy and nature’s recovery.

“For the Isles of Scilly, we explored support for a Scilly Pledge that would engage and educate visitors about the environment, promoting pro-nature behaviour.

“This would be accompanied by a robust measurement and monitoring system to track changes in the natural environment over time.

“For Cornwall, we explored ways to engage visitors in understanding and appreciating the natural environment through training for hospitality staff who can then lead local activities, with links to nature-recovery projects and the development of inland farm-based attractions.

“Our hope is that these ideas can be further developed by the project partners who are well-placed to pioneer regenerative tourism in future.”

The project team engaged with a range of people including tourism business owners and providers, land and ecosystem managers, social enterprises, residents and visitors.

Partners of the project, which was funded by UK Research and Innovation, were Cornwall Council, Council of the Isles of Scilly, Islands Partnership, Cornwall Wildlife Trust, Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, Tevi and Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership.