Lake District Estates’ heritage fleet Ullswater ‘Steamers’ has been shortlisted for the Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable Tourism Award at the Cumbria Awards. Other attractions under the Lake District Estates portfolio have also been shortlisted: Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway in the Large Visitor Attraction category; Waterfoot Park for the Camping, Glamping and Holiday Park Award; and staff member Richard Monk-Steel for a Sheila Hensman Award for Outstanding Contribution to Excellence.
Each of the three tourism businesses has put in place initiatives to help increase the benefits and reduce the negative impacts caused by tourism, focusing on three main areas: protecting the natural environment and wildlife; providing authentic tourism experiences that conserve cultural heritage; and creating socio-economic benefits for the local communities.
Leading the way in sustainable tourism is Lake District Estates flagship Ullswaters ‘Steamers’ which has been providing a transport service enabling passengers to explore the Ullwater Valley without a car. Achieving Green Tourism Business Scheme Gold accreditation and Gold Green at Heart for best environmental practice, the ‘Steamers’ have won numerous awards for sustainable practices over the years, recognised internationally for previous World Responsible Tourism Awards in the sea and river cruise category.
These major accolades for the ‘Steamers’ reflect Lake District Estates’ commitment to sustainable practices, which are at the heart of their tourism strategy. Examples of this strategy in action across the Lake District Estates’ attractions and holiday parks include:
Supporting conservation projects. Ullswater ‘Steamers’ has worked with local conservation charity Lake District Foundation since its inception in 1995. Since then the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway and the four holiday parts have all joined the initiative, with over £60,000 being raised for projects in the valley.
Protecting biodiversity. All four of Lake District Estates’ holiday parks – Waterfoot, Hill of Oaks, Woodclose and Newby Bridge – have a dedicated environmental policy and have achieved the Gold David Bellamy Conservation Award and Honey Bee Friendly Park Award.
Energy reduction. A rolling LED lighting replacement programme on-board the Ullswater ‘Steamers’ fleet, alongside the engine and propeller replacement programme, has resulted in a fuel reduction of 15%.
Water refill & single-use plastic removal. Working in partnership with Refill.org.uk, filtered water taps have been installed at Ullswater ‘Steamers’ and Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway, with biodegradable disposable cups and lids and either paper or compostable straws also being introduced. Ullswater ‘Steamers’ also no longer stock 500ml PET plastic bottles for fizzy drinks and are currently working with Caterite to stock an alternative to plastic bottles of water. A recycling station at Glenridding and on-board waste sorting by the boat crew means 94% of total waste is recycled each day, and the positive green message is shared with passengers using signage throughout the picnic areas. Replacing standard trigger bottles for cleaning products with refills has also reduced the ‘Steamers’ single-plastic by an additional 400 bottles a year.
Reducing carbon consumption. A staff minibus scheme for ‘Steamers’ staff to and from the piers is estimated to reduce the attraction’s carbon output from 27180kg to 1455kg per annum, while visitors to the ‘Steamers’ can enjoy a discount when arriving by public transport. Transport in supply chains are also being reduced where possible, with Lake District Estates pledging to use local suppliers for its cafes, while timber for the piers are sourced from the nearby Lowther Estates.
Environmental Champions. Each heritage attraction and holiday park in the Lake District Estates portfolio has a dedicated person who is passionate about encouraging and monitoring environmentally friendly practice within the company.
Rachel Bell, Head of Marketing and Development said, “By its very nature, tourism values the things that make Cumbria so very special: stunning landscape, wildlife, heritage, culture and people. As one of the leading tourism operators in the UK Lake District Estates have a responsibility to reduce any negative impact of our business operations, to fund conversation to protect key locations and to help guide our staff and visitors so that they can leave less trace on the environment. We are delighted to be nominated in four Cumbria Tourism Award categories which celebrate the best Cumbria has to offer and recognises the huge importance of the £2.9 billion visitor economy.”
The winners of the Cumbria Tourism Awards will be announced on Wednesday 19 June.