A challenge for National Parks in Wales' to balance encouraging tourism with conserving the natural environment

A challenge for National Parks in Wales' to balance encouraging tourism with conserving the natural environment
12 July 2022
Icons of nature, mountains and a plug

Read more in our latest work on National Parks

The three National Park Authorities in Wales play a vital role in managing the environment and encouraging visitors to enjoy the outdoors.

Approximately 12 million people visit Wales’ national parks each year, which helps to improve people’s health and wellbeing.

Drawing on our recent work on sustainable tourism, we consider some of the challenges faced by National Park Authorities in delivering their statutory purposes and duty.

All three parks – Snowdonia, Pembrokeshire Coast and Brecon Beacons – recognise that COVID-19 and COP26 have brought the nature crisis into sharp focus as visiting numbers have rocketed causing increased damage and risk to the biodiversity of our parks.  

National Park Authorities do not have the resources or powers to control or influence the number of people who visit their areas, nor their behaviour and impact.

In addition, tourist businesses mostly value the work of the National Park Authorities but do not think they have the balance right between their two statutory purposes – conserving and enhancing natural beauty and promoting opportunities for public enjoyment of the parks.

The Welsh Government should consider our findings when developing and setting their priorities for National Park Authorities, in order to assist the effective implementation of national policy.   

Sustainable Tourism in Wales National Parks