William Cole, Daily Mail, February 23, 2021
The owners of a renowned British beauty spot that was ravaged by litter and vandalism last summer have urged the government to educate ‘culturally diverse’ tourists how to behave in the countryside.
The Lulworth Estate, which owns Durdle Door in Dorset, has complained that huge crowds that headed for Britain’s coasts during the easing of the first lockdown left behind an unprecedented trail of destruction.
They claim the huge spike in day trippers seen at Durdle Door in May led to ‘environmental degradation that has never been experienced’ before on the 12,000-acre site on Britain’s south coast.
Infamous photos also show thousands of beachgoers packed together as ambulance helicopters land to rescue three people who injured themselves jumping off cliffs.
The estate blamed ‘the younger and more geographically and culturally diverse cohort’ from urban areas for huge piles of litter that took weeks to collect. Volunteers reported at the time finding human faeces in food boxes left behind on the sand.
A spokesman told MailOnline that many of the issues were caused by people from towns and cities and that they were ‘younger than our usual visitor’.
He added: ‘(They were) from many different countries and cultures, including a good proportion of Europeans in their 20s, possibly furloughed from the hospitality industry.’
In a letter to the Government Petitions Committee, the estate has called for a ‘countryside code’ to be put in place ahead of the easing of the third national lockdown, starting in April.
According to The Times, the letter claims the lifting of the first national lockdown led to a surge in visitors who usually go abroad and aren’t used to the rules of ‘leaving no trace’ in the English countryside.
‘The estate usually attracts families with children during the main summer season, but 2020 brought a much younger and more geographically and culturally diverse cohort to the nations’ coast and countryside,’ it added.
‘These visitors were mainly on day visits from cities, not travelling a short distance but sometimes driving four or five hours for a day out at the beach. With no foreign holidays, whole cities decamped into rural Britain.’
The estate added that the ‘hit-and-run’ approach to holidays had a serious impact on the countryside with ‘mass littering, flycamping, graffiti, fire and other environmental concerns’.
‘We earnestly do not want a repeat of this for the upcoming spring and summer as delicate environments cannot sustain the level of degradation they received in 2020.’
Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove and other parts of the Jurassic Coast are routinely voted among the most beautiful in the UK and attract a wide range of visitors throughout the year.
Natural England, a watchdog body sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DeFRA) said it was updating its code for visitors to the countryside to make it more relevant to the new type of visitor.
Ahead of the relaxation on travel restrictions at the end of March, a Dorset police chief said they county would welcome tourists, but their arrival must not be at the expense of other people’s health.
Assistant Chief Constable Sam de Reya, of Dorset Police, said: ‘The Government has now announced their road map for how lockdown restrictions will be gradually lifted this summer and I know this news will be very much welcomed by both businesses and our communities.
‘We fully expect the numbers of people travelling into Dorset this summer for a staycation to be higher than ever before.
‘We are committed to leading policing operations to deal with the extra demand summer will bring and will continue to work proactively with our partners to coordinate and strengthen our plans.
‘We want the county open and welcoming visitors so our businesses, that rely heavily on tourism, can thrive and we get the economy moving.
‘However, encouraging people to visit Dorset must not be at the expense of people’s health.
‘Our communities should feel reassured that the huge amount of planning already underway should allow people to travel into Dorset and enjoy what the county has to offer, while keeping both residents and visitors safe.’