This story was submitted and written by Food & Travel Journalist, Angela Youngman
Businesses in Snowdonia are being encouraged to take advantage of the area’s new Dark Sky status by providing Astro-tourism packages
The Dark Sky status is highly coveted. Granted by the International Dark-Skies Association in America, it provides recognition that a geographical area is noted for its starry nights with minimal light pollution from man made lights. Only 11 other locations worldwide possess this designation. One of these locations is Northumbria which possesses one of the biggest Dark Sky areas.
Arloesi Gwynedd Wledig are now running a three month Dark Sky pilot project in the Snowdonia National Park. The aim of the project is to show that Dark Sky status can attract additional tourists to the area, especially outside the peak holiday season. It is working with 14 accommodation providers ranging from B&B’s to campsites, climbing huts and guest houses to trial the concept. None of these accommodation providers have any extensive skills or knowledge of astronomy.
Arloesi Gwynedd Wledig have just run a workshop introducing the concept to the accommodation providers. Each business will receive a site visit together with the provision of stargazing equipment (binoculars and star charts). In March, Arloesi Gwnedd Wledig are holding a Dark Sky Event to which all businesses in Gwynedd will be able to attend to discover just how Snowdonia Dark Sky Status can benefit their business.
The potential rewards can be significant. Northumbria has possessed Dark Sky status for over three years. Research carried out by Visit Northumbria last year found that 63% of respondents had visited the county between October 2015 and February 2016, compared to just 9.5% the previous year. Over 50% of those questioned indicated that hearing about the Dark Skies campaign had turned a possible visit into a certainty.