Nature tourism could boost Morecambe Bay economy

People need  more inspiration and information about where to see popular wildlife such as red deer (pictured) and otters.

People need more inspiration and information about where to see popular wildlife such as red deer (pictured) and otters.

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A new report shows Morecambe Bay has the potential to become a leading destination for nature tourism.

Based on the results of an extensive visitor survey carried out across Morecambe Bay in autumn 2012, this report builds up a picture of who visits the area, why they come and how much they spend.

The report reveals that of those people surveyed nearly nine out of ten people would be interested in visiting places where they can see or experience wildlife.

However, it shows only 55% of people surveyed had actually visited or planned to visit a nature attraction.

These results suggest that many more people would take part in nature tourism activities if they were made more aware of the opportunities to enjoy wildlife in Morecambe Bay.

Jenny Wain from the RSPB who compiled the report on behalf of the Morecambe Bay Nature Improvement Area said: “Most people who visit the Bay say the area’s beautiful scenery is its main attraction.

“They are aware that the area is a great place for nature and would like to experience it, but clearly, they need more inspiration and information about where to see popular wildlife such as red deer and otters.”

The results of the visitor survey report are helping to shape the activities of The Morecambe Bay Nature Tourism Business Network, a fledgling group of over 60 businesses including accommodation and activity providers and nature and cultural attractions.

Supported by Bay Tourism Association, the RSPB and Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the aim of the Network is to boost the local tourism economy by unlocking the potential of the Bay’s nature and wildlife.

The Network was officially launched at an event at the National Trust’s Sizergh Estate.

The first task of the Network is to develop a series of guides and itineraries to enable visitors to get up close and personal with nature.

These will celebrate the wealth of nature that lives in the limestone hills, grassland and woodlands that flank the Bay, as well as its rivers, estuaries and the sea, and also connect with cultural and heritage attractions.

Jenny Wain continued: “Our plan is to give visitors a wealth of options to see wildlife, which will provide the foundation for a thriving nature economy.

“By inspiring people to visit places rich in nature around Morecambe Bay, we hope that they will make longer trips and, therefore, spend more money on activities, local accommodation, pubs, cafes and restaurants.”