Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bright Ideas for Business to Make Most of the Dark

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bright Ideas for Business to Make Most of the Dark

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Henderson Environment Editor

BUSINESSES in some of the North East's most unspoilt locations are being urged to reach for the skies to make the most of growing stargazing tourism.

Northumberland National Park and Kielder Water & Forest Park now have International Dark Sky Park status and the North Pennines also enjoys star-spangled dark skies. And The Journal has already reported how a small observatory is planned for Allenheads.

Now, the first in a series of 10 training days will help other businesses to develop their astro-visitor attractions.

The events are being provided by the Animating Dark Skies project partnership, which includes Northumberland National Park Authority, Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust, Kielder Observatory, the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Northumberland County Council. The first days will take place on April 29 at the Redesdale Arms, near Otterburn, Northumberland, and May 1 at Hamsterley Village Hall, Hamsterley, County Durham.

Richard Darn, a communications and marketing professional with a passion for astronomy, has been commissioned by the Animating project to provide the training.

He said: "The training days are open to any business that wants to capitalise on our wonderful dark skies. The event will be useful for bed and breakfast, campsite and selfcatering owners, inn and hotel managers, tour guides and anyone working in the visitor economy to help them gear up to provide an unforgettable dark sky experience. "Northumberland International Dark Sky Park and the North Pennies AONB have some of England's darkest skies, which offer a spectacular display from the end of the summer visitor season and throughout the winter.

"In a light-polluted country they are an economic asset which translates into a unique selling proposition for the tourism sector. …

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