A man who came to Aberystwyth from Brittany, France, for a research project investigating what he calls ‘sustainable tourism’ and the struggles facing coastal towns, believes the closure of the Ynyslas visitor centre would be a ‘major step back for sustainable tourism.’ 

Maxime Voidy has spent the last two months in Aberystwyth where he has been interviewing local people until 15 March hoping to understand the struggles they face and the impact of tourism.

To his ‘surprise,’ Maxime felt Ceredigion coastal towns faced strong coastal erosion, which led his investigation to Borth. 

“I was surprised by the vulnerability of the coastline to climatic events. The erosion of the coastline seems to be very strong.

“I was interested in the particular case of Borth, which seems doomed one day to end up under water because of its position between the bog and the sea.”

Maxime also noted that he found access to housing to be a common problem for local people. 

“It's very difficult for local people and those wanting to settle here on a permanent basis to find affordable, suitable, long-term accommodation.”

During the two months, Maxime became particularly interested in the potential closure of the Ynyslas visitor centre, a place he called ‘a very good example of sustainable tourism.’

“In my project I really wanted to tackle the question of sustainable tourism. Sustainable tourism is tourism that is aware of the economic, social and environmental impact on the areas concerned and the host populations. 

“Ynyslas is a very good example of this. It's a nature reserve visited by many tourists, and it needs to be managed to minimise the impact of the hundreds of thousands of people who come each year. Closing this centre would be a real step backwards on the road to sustainable tourism.”

Maxime attended the public meeting discussing the centre’s future on Friday, March 1. He was ‘deeply moved’ by the words of local people and plans to dedicate part of his project to their fight to keep it open. 

“I was deeply moved by the words spoken by the local people, and I felt a great deal of incomprehension and anger at this sudden announcement. I saw a deep shared attachment to Ynyslas, and I think that's what made it possible for so many to attend the meeting and it’s what's keeping the fight going. I think that a large part of my project will focus on this.”