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We introduced conservation holidays to the Suffolk coast, as part of a programme to increase the economic and conservation benefits in this rural area through positive eco-tourism.
We aimed to:
We partnered with a regional company who worked with AONB Partnership members to establish three holidays. Considerable marketing was done nationally and good contacts made to travel journalists. Sufficient numbers of press and public attended the three holidays that were delivered in 2016.
We sought and developed a partnership with a regional small conservation holiday business and were able to encourage them to develop and set up pilot holidays on the Suffolk Coast, supporting financially with grant aid from the Coastal Communities Fund and via AONB team support to encourage, provide local knowledge, and encourage partnership development with coastal organisations, accommodation agencies and communities.
Three holidays were run in the pilot year 2016, and subsequently Wild Days Conservation have established further holidays on the Suffolk coast.
The holidays were designed to support the rural economy through sustainable tourism and make a positive contribution to the environment.
The report notes that: “Holidaymakers felt that the holidays provided good value for money, one respondent saying that they regularly undertake walking holidays which provide similar facilities and are about the same price.”
Outputs Achieved from Conservation Holidays
The project found that demand is growing to develop positive eco-tourism in Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB in partnership with social enterprise Wild Days Conservation. The model, tested in 2016, has potential for replication and scaling in other rural areas in the UK.
Quote from project manager
“In 2013 we asked the question: is there any way we can increase the desire in people, especially those who visit and enjoy the outstanding landscape of the Suffolk coast, to contribute both to the conservation of and economy of the area?
Developing and delivering activities around this subject has been a fascinating journey to understand what motivates people to join in, what the Suffolk coast offer really is, and what the wider market for ‘volunteering and visiting’ is. In particular, the development of conservation holidays had not previously been tested in the area or even, as it turns out, to a great extent in the UK, with no common approach to setting them up or how to attract people to join in through marketing and promotion methods.”
Cathy Smith, Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB
Quote from participant
“I got an excellent insight into how wildlife sites are managed and I now appreciate the hard work involved. I wasn’t even aware that this type of holiday existed and I will certainly be looking to return to Suffolk in the future.”
Paul’s Experience, Dunwich
Key search words: Conservation, Holidays
Photo Credits: Wild Days Conservation Holiday Group – Small Mammal Survey, 2016 Bird Survey at Dunwich Heath, Invasive Species Survey at RSPB Minsmere – Suffolk Coast and Heath AONB.