Lancashire’s Olympic Torch Route

7 November 2011

Global Responsible Tourism Accolade for Bowland

The Forest of Bowland AONB is runner-up of the prestigious 'Best Destination' award from The International Responsible Tourism Awards.  The award was presented to the AONB on 9th November as part of World Responsible Tourism Day at the World Travel Market in London, sponsored by Virgin Holidays.

The Forest of Bowland AONB are delighted to be the 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 the tourism businesses themselves who have worked hard over the last five years to deliver tourism with sustainability at the core.  County Councillor Albert Atkinson, chair of the Joint Advisory Committee for the AONB says: '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. 

The rigorous awards process relies on travellers and the industry to nominate exemplars in the field of sustainable tourism.  Once all the nominations are received – over 1,000 this year – the judging process really begins.  Organised by founder since 2004, several stages are designed, alongside the International Centre for Responsible Tourism, to really put the nominees through their paces. At each stage the list gets shorter, until their expert panel of judges debate the finalists on an annual judging day.  Previous winners of the Best Destination Category include Aspen, Colorado, Cape Town and the New Forest.  The winner for 2011 was Røros in Norway.

For further information about the awards visit or download the free app at

Notes for editors

For further information please contact Hetty Byrne on 01200 448000 or [email protected]

The Forest of Bowland AONB

  • The Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is one of 41 AONB’s in England and Wales.
  • The Forest of Bowland was designated as an AONB in 1964.  The AONB legislation (National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000) was designed to protect areas of unspoiled natural beauty for future generations.
  • The Forest of Bowland AONB was the first Protected Area in England to obtain the Europarc Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas in September 2005.

Responsible Tourism Awards

The Responsible Tourism Awards were founded in 2004 to celebrate and inspire change in the tourism industry and are organised by founder The Awards rest on a simple principle – that all types of tourism, from niche to mainstream, can and should be organised in a way that preserves, respects and benefits destinations and local people. The judging process is designed and organised in partnership with the International Centre for Responsible Tourism at Leeds Metropolitan University, and Virgin Holidays have supported the Awards as headline sponsor since 2007.

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