The research reports – led by the University of Exeter and funded by the UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund – identify ways to develop ‘positive synergies’ between the visitor economy and the protection and nature’s value in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
Recommendations include creating local networks with “community buy-in” to ensure that the benefits of tourism are widely disseminated.
These networks could support “nature recovery projects”, funded in part by donations from visitors.
The reports also recommend nature education for hotel staff, enabling 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 Institute for Environment and Sustainability at the Penryn campus of Exeter in Cornwall.
“We know that a record number of people want 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 economy of visitors and the restoration of nature.
“For the Isles of Scilly, we explored support for a Scilly Pledge that would engage and educate visitors about the environment, promoting pro-nature behavior.
“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 inspire visitors to understand and appreciate the natural environment through training hotel staff who can then lead local activities, with links to nature recovery projects and the development of agricultural attractions inland.
“Our hope is that these ideas can be further developed by the project partners who are well placed to launch regenerative tourism in the future. “
The project team worked with a range of people, including tourism business owners and suppliers, land and ecosystem managers, social enterprises, residents and visitors.
Partners in the project, funded by UK Research and Innovation, were the 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.