The Lake District “must change” to attract a greater diversity of visitors, according to the National Park’s chief executive.
The head of the Lake District National Park Authority, Richard Leafe told Sky News that the Lake District, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, must change in order to merit continued public funding.
Mr Leafe said;
“We are deficient in terms of young people, we are deficient in terms of black and minority ethnic communities and we are not particularly well-visited by those who are less able in terms of their mobility.
“Our challenge is to see what we can do to reverse that, to encourage people from broader backgrounds and a wider range of personal mobilities into the national park to be able to benefit in the same way as those other groups do.”
A government-commissioned report published earlier this year also criticised national parks for not doing enough to make people welcome.
However, suggestions that the Lake District needs to change and become more diverse have sparked controversy and debate on social media, with many arguing that the national park shouldn’t be changed at all.
This is not the first time that suggestions to make changes to the Lake District have sparked controversy. Just months ago, Keswick Town Council passed a unanimous vote of no confidence against the Lake District National Park Authority over its decision to resurface a path to increase accessibility for cyclists.
A crowdfunding effort has also raised more than £30,000 to challenge the Park Authority’s decision to not impose a ban on recreational off-road vehicles and a case will go to the High Court in 2020.
Concerns have been raised that the Lake District National Park is turning into ‘the Lake District Theme Park’, according to reports that the introduction of zip wires and cable cars have also been considered by the park authority. Many fear that trying to draw more people to the Lake District could damage its natural environment, especially if activities such as the use of 4×4 vehicles are allowed in the area.