Page last updated at 16:35 GMT, Friday, 30 April 2010 17:35 UK

Lake District wants donations from Japanese tourists

Beatrix Potter
Much of the Lake District's popularity in Japan is attributed to Beatrix Potter

Tourists from Japan are being encouraged to donate £5 to support conservation in the Lake District.

The national park in Cumbria is popular with Japanese visitors due to its links with children's author Beatrix Potter, who wrote many of her books there.

It has seen a big increase in Japanese visitor numbers since the 2006 biopic Miss Potter, starring Renee Zellweger.

Money raised will be used for improvements around Windermere - the largest natural lake in England.

The voluntary scheme has existed for several years, but is only now being rolled out to the Japanese market.

This market has seen dramatic growth since the release of the Miss Potter film
Japan Forum

There has been high awareness of the author and the Lake District across Japan since the very first foreign language version of Peter Rabbit was shown in the country in 1906.

Her hugely-popular series of books were once on the country's school curriculum.

Beatrix Potter lived at Hill Top Farm near Sawrey.

The Japan Visitor Payback Project is being organised by the Japan Forum - a group of Lake District business owners who benefit from the Japanese tourist market - and Nurture Lakeland, a tourism and conservation partnership.

A Japan Forum spokeswoman said: "This market has seen dramatic growth since the release of the Miss Potter film, and the forum aims to help offset any negative environmental impacts of this increase through visitor payback schemes.

"The tourism and conservation partnership are now leading the project which sees Japanese tour operators encourage customers to donate £5 to conservation in the Lake District and receive a Peter Rabbit pin badge and certificate.

"5,000 badges are expected to be distributed during 2010 raising £25,000 for conservation."

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