National parks body readies media drive

The Association of National Park Authorities (ANPA) is gearing up for a media relations push to mark its first National Park Week, from 1 to 9 July 2004.

ANPA public relations coordinator Sara Long said that, although the UK’s 13 national parks attract about 100 million visitors a year, it is important to communicate such key themes as their diversity and their potential to provide leisure and tourism activities and to revitalise rural economies.

Long said she expected interest from specialist outdoor publications and national newspapers as well as specialist TV and radio programmes. Celebrities known for their love of the countryside will act as spokespeople for the week.

National Park Week is the first time ANPA has had a focused media campaign linking the parks together. Long said ANPA needed to be more pro-active in getting positive portrayals of the parks into national media rather than waiting for contentious issues to crop up.

She cited the South Downs Inquiry, where local campaigners complained that making the area designated national parkland would increase tourism to excessive levels and spark changes to planning laws.

The 13 parks – eight in England, three in Wales and two in Scotland – cover a diversity of locations, flora, fauna and human populations, so aims for each one differ.

Long said that socially inclusive activities involving ethnic minority communities or inner-city children would be a more significant aim of the Peak District, located near Manchester and Sheffield.

ANPA is also planning cross-park initiatives to attract national media coverage and promote the role of the parks as a whole and of each park authority.

Long said the media has the opportunity to contribute ideas for coverage, while ANPA is open to both media outlets and companies getting involved as sponsors of the week.

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