The Lake District’s elevation to World Heritage Status on UNESCO’s annual list of sites has been met with a somewhat mixed reaction.
Some are celebrating what they see as long overdue acknowledgment, while others are not so convinced.
One man who celebrated the news was Nigel Wilkinson, Managing Director of Windermere Lake Cruises, who believes that it’s about time the Lake District got the recognition it deserves.
He said: “We believe that World Heritage inscription properly reflects the identity of the Lake District and puts it in its rightful place as one of the top thousand destinations on the planet.”
‘Expansion will be knocked on the head’
However, others view the prestigious listing as too great a burden.
Some see it as a hindrance, saying they won’t be able to expand their businesses under UNESCO’s strict conservation rules.
Jonathan Wilkinson owns Kimi’s Gelateri, an ice cream shop on the shores of Lake Windermere.
He said: “My main concern is that obviously it will have a negative effect on businesses and their ability to expand. And we will be stifled, whether it is hoteliers, marina owners, whatever, we’ll be stifled and expansion plans will be knocked on the head and effectively we won’t be able to exist and earn a living within the heritage site, within the national park.”
Large sums to be made
Despite this, the Lake District can expect to see an increase in tourist foot fall and the prospect of more local revenue has many licking their lips.
Chairman of Cumbria Tourism Eric Robson said: “There’s a lot of evidence that people who use World Heritage sites as their sort of bucket list of places to go round the world they tend to stay longer and spend more. And that works really well in a place like the Lake District, where we’re not trying to increase numbers, we’re trying to increase spend.”
Help or hindrance?
However, in spite of myriad positive impacts the World Heritage Listing has provided for naturally and culturally important sites around the world, there are concerns about what it can mean for the future.
With some sites under threat of losing their UNESCO status due to excessive development, some are worried that their commercial ventures may be put on hold.
The German city of Dresden became the first city to lose its World Heritage status after the construction of a controversial bridge was deemed by UNESCO to have negatively impacted the city’s cultural significance.
Meanwhile, Liverpool’s docklands in England’s northwest is in danger of slipping off the list over plans to develop large towers along the city’s iconic riverside.