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BAY SECURES GEOPARK STATUS

Source:Http://www.globalgeopark.org Published:Sep 19,2007

Torbay is celebrating its newfound status as a Geopark after its acceptance into the Eurowide network of natural wonderlands was announced on September 17.

The resort has woken up to a new identity which will put it on the international stage as an important heritage destination. There are only five other Geoparks in the UK including the Abberley and Malvern Hills and the North Pennines, a further 26 across Europe and a total of 52 across the world in 17 countries.

The English Riviera Geopark has the unique distinction of being the world's first urban Geopark.

Every other Geopark is located in sparsely-populated rural areas, but Torbay has been welcomed partly to discover how the concept can be applied in a largely urban setting.

Torbay can now call itself Europe's Coral Coast due to its limestone formations. The announcement was made at a Geopark conference in Scotland on September 17.

A delighted Dominic Acland, director of the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust and chairman of the English Riviera Geopark Organisation (ERGO), which co-ordinated the bid, said: "Everyone is working to regenerate Torbay and this new Geopark designation turbo-charges all those regeneration efforts.

"It is a fundamental part of our strategy to build people's pride in the area, attract new visitors, diversify and improve our tourist offering.

"So there is huge potential in this designation. If we use it properly it will be a significant part of the power-house which turns Torbay around and sets it on a different course towards a more sustainable society and economy.

"This is also a great boost to our self-confidence in the Bay. The partnership which came together to make this happen was inspiring. It shows how we can really move mountains when we work together.

The Geopark will be co-ordinated by the English Riviera Geopark Organisation which all the partners have signed up to.

Speaking from the conference, Mel Border, the ERGO co-ordinator, who co-ordinated the application, said she was 'absolutely elated' and almost burst into tears when the announcement was made.

She said: "There's been so much support, everyone really wanted it to happen and to wait so long has been agony.

"It's been such a long journey, but there has been so much outstanding support from everyone and it's because of that support that we've done it. It was an absolute honour to go and get the certificate, to stand there and be welcomed into the network.

"It's been an absolute rollercoaster ride, but this is just the beginning and I am itching to get back to Torbay to make a start on all the projects I've got going on in my head."

Nick Powe, owner of Kents Cavern and a key player in the application, said the global brand of a Geopark is phenomenal and will be a huge economic boost to the Bay.

He added: "This gives us a great opportunity to develop areas of tourism which we have struggled with in the past, and had difficulties in bringing under the umbrella of the English Riviera.

"The Geopark status gives us the opportunity to wrap up our cultural heritage, environmental areas and seascapes, all the aspects to do with the up and coming new areas of tourism we so desperately need and want to develop."

Torbay mayor Nick Bye hailed the news as 'fantastic' adding: "It has been an anxious wait, but I was confident with the strength of the bid that the inspector would be suitably impressed.

"The success of the bid reflects great credit on the many people who put in such a tremendous amount of hard work in its preparation.

"The success provides another wonderful boost for Torbay, and will define this area by our stunning natural environment."

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