High level Chinese delegation praises Cotswolds
Release date: 26 February 2016
A Chinese tourism delegation, led by Fan Zhigang, Chief Representative of China Jiangsu Provincial Economic and Trade Office in the UK, visited the Old Prison in Northleach on 25 February to learn about the value of conserving the countryside and rural buildings while enhancing their appeal.
Fan Zhigang had contacted Cotswold District Council to express admiration for the unique beauty of the local protected landscape, and asked to visit the area, with seven delegates from Nanjing Tangshan Hot Spring Tourist Resorts, to learn more about balancing the needs of conservation with the demands of tourism and leisure pursuits.
CDC Leader Cllr Lynden Stowe, together with the Strategic Director Christine Gore, Head of Leisure and Communities Diana Shelton and the Heritage Manager Sophia Price, were glad to respond to the request and they chose the Northleach venue to demonstrate the work which has been done by the community to maintain this historic grade II listed 18th century former prison building.
The delegation was briefed on the work that CDC does to enhance and protect the natural environment and historic buildings, and learned about the Cotswold Way and the traditional Cotswold Lion sheep breed. They also found time to tour the Old Prison, which includes the Cotswolds Discovery Centre and the offices of the Cotswolds Conservation Board.
Cllr Stowe was very pleased with the outcome:
“We are seeing an increasing number of tourists from the Far East visiting the District and it is clear that they are impressed with the way in which we combine conservation priorities with the need to provide good visitor facilities and an excellent range of attractions and amenities. The delegation was very complimentary about what we have to offer and noted with great interest that we are managing to increase visitor numbers without detracting from the natural environment. They were particularly interested in the fact that 80% of the District lies within the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and that there are 144 designated Conservation Areas. Additionally, we emphasised that no other district in England contains as many listed buildings and structures – some 6,000 in the Cotswolds – not to mention the wide range of Scheduled Ancient Monuments, historic parks and gardens. When observing the dry-stone walling training facility, the delegation was fascinated to learn that if you put all the dry stone walls in the Cotswolds together, it would make a wall longer than the Great Wall of China!
“I very much hope that this visit whetted their appetite for more and that they will spread the word in China about the wonders of the Cotswolds.”