Sidmouth visitors to pay to keep Devon green?

A NEW scheme in Devon could see Sidmouth tourists and visitors asked to make a small contribution in order to conserve the county s natural environment.

A NEW scheme in Devon could see Sidmouth tourists and visitors asked to make a small contribution in order to conserve the county's natural environment.

The idea, being piloted by Devon County Council in partnership with Visit Devon, is just one initiative that will be discussed at the first Devon Green Tourism Business Network event which officially launches on Tuesday June 23.

The 'Visitor Payback Scheme' provides an opportunity for customers and visitors to make a small extra payment that helps to protect the stunning Devon landscapes that they come here to enjoy. Businesses can sign up to it on a purely voluntary basis. Significantly, research has shown that visitors actually welcome the opportunity to make a contribution.

Devon is already at the forefront of piloting sustainable tourism. To date there are 165 Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS) accredited members in the County. The new Network has been established in response to feedback from those members, to further strengthen and promote the sector and to allow it to develop further.

In addition to online materials and a member newsletter; regular meetings will take place throughout the year enabling green businesses to exchange ideas, hear about best practice and the latest developments and to generally support one another and newcomers to the industry. The new website goes live on June 23

Liz Hodges, owner of the Globe Hotel & newly opened Route2Cafe & Bar, both in Topsham, said:

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"I am very excited by the launch of the new Network. Devon already leads on sustainable tourism, and I think this will provide a real boost to our business and to the green tourism sector as a whole. I'm looking forward to meeting and swapping notes with other like-minded businesses, and I would encourage any tourism business that is looking to strengthen their green credentials to get involved"

Rosie Bates, Economic Development Manager at Devon County Council, and organiser of the Network said;

"Tourism is so important to Devon, thousands of visitors are attracted here every year by the wonderful environment so it's critical that tourism businesses adapt; both to ensure that their activities and business models are sustainable, but also to ensure that they are meeting increasing customer demands for 'green' facilities."

In addition to launching the Visitor Payback Scheme, the first event has the general theme of "Finding the Right Supplier for your Business", and there is an exciting schedule of speakers, including case studies presented by local businesses (Dartmouth Golf & Country Club and the Globe Hotel, Topsham), and Alastair Mumford from Global Action Plan talking about sustainable purchasing.

The event is free and takes place 11.30am to 2.30pm, Tuesday, 23rd June 2009 at The Malthouse, Globe Hotel, Topsham. To book a place contact Paul Baker 01392 383428. For more information and details, contact Rosie Bates, 01392 382831.

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