Bird centre brings £2m into economy

Site manager Ian Kendall at the reserve
Site manager Ian Kendall at the reserve

NEARLY £2 million is pumped into the local economy every year by tourists visiting Bempton’s RSPB reserve, according to a new study.

The RSPB report shows that the reserve supports 51 jobs locally, 40 of which are supported directly by money spent by visitors.

In 2009, Bempton Cliffs welcomed more than 66,000 visitors, and surveys show that 83% of those visitors said one of the main reasons they visit the area is to go to the reserve and see the seabirds.

Around £1.8m a year was spent by those RSPB tourists at local businesses, restaurants, pubs, other attractions and on accommodation.

Ian Kendall, Bempton Cliffs site manager, said: “Last year, Bempton Cliffs welcomed visitors from more than 20 different countries, all wanting to see this breath-taking wildlife spectacle and the amazing landscape.

“This year, events such as our Puffin Patrols and Tea With The Gannets have drawn in the crowds.

“These two series of events alone have been enjoyed by 1,400 people.”

The report, entitled ‘Foundations for a Green Economy: Conservation and local employment across the UK’, looks at how conservation and nature tourism create jobs and bring money into local areas.

Mr Kendall added: “We know that more and more people are discovering the amazing nature we have in the UK and a visit to a nature reserve is now a regular part of many family holidays.

“This is reflected in the growing popularity of television programmes like Springwatch and Countryfile – which earlier this year featured the gannets at Bempton Cliffs – and the rising membership of organisations like the RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts.

“This is fantastic for nature because it helps support a lot of important conservation work.

“But what we are beginning to discover is that it is also great for the local economy around a reserve, bringing tourism, money and jobs to the area.

“This report comes at a time when the Government is looking at how it can aid economic recovery by reforming the planning system to make development easier.

“What we have shown here is that when we build on our green spaces, rather than boosting our economy, we may be undermining it.

“Protecting nature brings its own financial rewards and a planning agenda which prioritises economic growth may sell us short.”

Janet Reuben, Chief Executive of Visit Hull and East Yorkshire, said that the reserve is a “fabulous attraction that delights many of this region’s visitors every year”.

Nationally, visits to RSPB reserves grew by 38%, from around 1.5 million to almost 2 million in the last five years.