On Tuesday night Tom and I attended an event at the Cotswold Farm Park. Hosted by the Cotswolds Conservation Board, the evening was to celebrate the relaunch of the recently rebranded Cotswolds Visitor Giving Scheme, now known as “Caring for the Cotswolds“, and to encourage other local tourism businesses to get involved with this simple initiative.
— The Cotswolds (@CotswoldsAONB) May 16, 2017
One of the main reasons that thousands of people come to the Cotswolds each year is because it is so beautiful. As a local tour company we’re only too happy to show off the incredible landscapes, villages and beauty spots that we love to call our back yard! However, tourism can also have its negative impacts – litter, pollution and erosion being just a few.
We believe that as a local tourism business it’s our responsibility to not only minimise our impact on the environment wherever possible, but also to give something back to the countryside and communities that help to sustain us – we profit from the Cotswolds’ natural beauty, so it’s only fair that we help to make sure it stays beautiful!
— The Cotswolds (@CotswoldsAONB) May 5, 2017
Go Cotswolds joined the Caring for the Cotswolds scheme in 2016. Every time a customer books a ticket for one of our tours, they have the option of adding a small donation of £1–10 to the cost of their ticket. At the end of each year, we match-fund whatever our customers have donated, and this money is sent to the Cotswolds Conservation Board to be distributed among various landscape and environmental projects around the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Last year we raised a modest sum of £250 including our match-funding, but since a recent update to our website that makes our online booking process much easier, our generous customers have already donated over £130 – that doesn’t include our match-funding, and it’s still only May, so thank you!
At the event on Tuesday as well as Tom speaking about Go Cotswolds’ involvement with the scheme, it was great to have the opportunity to hear from some of the organisations who have benefitted from Caring for the Cotswolds grants. For example, Harriet, a project officer with the Bristol and Avon Rivers Trust, explained how Caring for the Cotswolds funding helps them to carry out projects like shoring up river banks, reducing agricultural run-off, or preventing the build up of silt that can decrease biodiversity. They also take their work into schools to educate children about rivers and river-life.
Another river-related project was in Bourton-on-the-Water (which you can visit on our Cotswolds Day Tour!). Here, the quaint River Windrush flows right through the centre of the village, attracting thousands of visitors each year to picnic on its banks and paddle in the shallow waters. Caring for the Cotswolds funding has helped to repair the dry stone wall that runs along the riverbank, helping to keep it safe for everyone to use while also maintaining the traditional Cotswoldian style.
It’s not all about rivers though! Caring for the Cotswolds has funded, and continues to provide funding for a variety of landscape and conservation projects all across the region, including restoring historic landmarks, repairing public footpaths and developing educational resources. You can read more about the projects supported by Caring for the Cotswolds here.
Go Cotswolds is one of several members of Caring for the Cotswolds. In the grand scheme of things, our annual contribution is fairly small – but as a large UK supermarket retailer once said, Every Little Helps!
We really encourage other Cotswolds tourism businesses to get involved – as people who live and work in the Cotswolds, and who benefit from the visitors who come to see the beauty of the Cotswolds each year, we think it really is our duty to do our part in ensuring that Cotswolds tourism stays sustainable, and that the Cotswolds stays beautiful for all to enjoy!
If you want to know more about how you can get involved with the scheme, please contact Chris Brant at the Cotswolds Conservation Board at firstname.lastname@example.org.