Tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the economy of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. However, as it currently takes place, and in the context of a climate emergency, it is inherently unsustainable:

Sustainable tourism is defined as: “any form of development, management or tourist activity which ensures the long-term protection and preservation of natural, cultural and social resources and contributes in a positive and equitable manner to the economic development and well-being of individuals living, working or staying in protected areas.”  (EUROPARC Federation 2000)

Sustainable tourism is at an appropriate scale, encourages quiet enjoyment, and reinvests in the economy and communities which support the landscape.

The National Park has around 5 million visitors per year with more than 80% travelling to and within the area by private car.

More than one quarter of properties in the National Park are either holiday lets or second homes. This is a significant barrier to the development of thriving, sustainable communities.  

Our Policies

  • We acknowledge that tourism is a major contributor to the economy of the Dales.  But tourism must not detract from the unique character of the Yorkshire Dales landscape.
  • We encourage people of all backgrounds, especially under-represented groups, to access and enjoy the countryside in a responsible way.
  • We recognise that the landscape and built heritage of the Dales offers opportunities to tell the changing history of the area, helps drive the rural economy and is important to the area’s tourism appeal.
  • We support the need for a sustainable-tourism policy that puts the needs of the residents of the Yorkshire Dales before those of the tourists, enhancing their quality of life and reinvesting tourism income into the local communities.
  • We support the introduction of a compulsory licensing scheme for holiday lets.
  • We recognise the demand from charities to organise challenging events to raise funds, but encourage them to minimise the impacts of traffic and parking on habitats and wildlife.  We also encourage them to promote a greater understanding of the nature of the land and the need to ensure responsible use.

What we will do

  • We will encourage the National Park Authority to monitor visitor numbers and activities, and to use this data to inform visitor management strategies.
  • Where tourism, despite good planning and management, comes into conflict with the statutory purposes of the National Park, we will support the National Park Authority in attaching greater weight to the purpose of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area, as required by the 1995 Environment Act. 
  • We will oppose tourism development and activity that is not sustainable, does not benefit the residents of the National Park or would damage the special qualities of the Yorkshire Dales.
  • We will urge the Authority to fulfil their statutory responsibilities regarding access and to provide adequate resources for their countryside services. We will support the Authority in policies which keep the maintenance and enhancement of rights of way as one of its highest priorities.
  • We will support user organisations in their efforts to ensure that the rights of way network is protected and enhanced, and that access to open countryside is not diminished.
  • We will encourage accommodation providers to minimise their use of energy, water and other resources.
  • We will encourage the use of public transport and the promotion of less harmful forms of transport such as walking and cycling.
  • We will support programmes of farm visits, to help urban audiences relate to Dales communities, to respect the land and the landscape, and to appreciate locally produced food and services, whilst also helping farmers and the rural community to a better understanding of their visitors.
  • We will support programmes that promote understanding among visitors of built heritage assets, especially those that are distinctive of the Dales, and why some have ceased to be used.
  • We will support ‘slow travel’.  This encourages increased length of stay, and increased spend that in turn benefits the local visitor economy.