Activity tourism, underwater travel and nature tourism

Outdoor tourism and active holidays on the coast

Our coast is full of potential to get more people active outdoors, supporting better health, well-being, education and environmental awareness, through activities like climbing, trekking, walking and a range of watersports. Many watersports, such as surfing and kitesurfing, have a particular appeal to people aged under-35 who relish exciting experiences, but others, such as swimming, kayaking and sailing appeal to a broader age range.

In Wales, outdoor activity tourism is worth £481 million to the economy and supports 8,243 Welsh jobs.  Total expenditure on outdoor activity tourism in Wales accounts for 10% or 12% of expenditure in the tourist economy as a whole, according to Visit Britain and Welsh government sources, respectively. The strength of this sector lies in the varied nature of the habitats and landscapes of Wales.

But this potential is not only in Wales. The surfing industry plays an important role in the local economy of northern Devon in the southwest of England. There are approximately 42,000 people, who surf in northern Devon each year. Through the money they spend locally, surfing is estimated to be worth £52.1 million to the local economy.

With over half of our young people (aged 35 or under) saying they ‘don’t know much about’ what our coast has to offer, there is a lot more we can be doing to make the most of this potential; and there’s plenty of coastal destinations around the country with something to offer.

Opportunities through underwater travel

Around the world, there are some exciting new ideas about how we can engage with what lies beneath the oceans. ‘Underwater travel’ can be about enhancing the marine experience, through diving and below the surface offers, which are developed sensitively to ensure ecological balance, or bringing the underwater world to the surface.

In New Zealand, a new Marine Research and Education Centre to be set up in Lochmara Bay is looking to combine underwater lessons with marine conservation, with opportunities for it to become a unique tourist attraction for the area. The development of marine education offers, combining adventure and discovery could also make use of local marine and maritime cultural heritage.

Recent advancements in 3D technology are also capturing underwater heritage sites and stories to create virtual reality displays, making it accessible to the wider public.

Economic benefits of the Jurassic Coast

The Jurassic Coast is estimated to support around £111 million of output and up to 2,000 jobs in the wider Dorset and East Devon area, on an annual basis. The Dorset and East Devon coast was designated as a World Heritage Site based on its outstanding geological and coastal characteristics in 2001. It is the only natural World Heritage Site in England. It covers 95 miles of coastline from Old Harry Rocks in Dorset to Orcombe Point in East Devon.

The quality of the Dorset environment, and the Jurassic Coast in particular, is a key influence for people to visit the area. A business survey, carried out by Ash Futures in association with Vallance Economics on behalf of the Dorset Council and the Jurassic Coast Partnership, showed a demonstrable positive impact of the Jurassic Coast on businesses’ performance. The Jurassic Coast team have played an important role in developing a brand, which has helped attract more people to the area, and to assist organisations extract value from the designation through leveraging additional funding.

The surveys indicate that the majority of businesses feel that the Jurassic Coast significantly helps with wider marketing of the area, and a large proportion of those businesses adopt the brand for their own purposes. Significant public investment has flowed into the area and, although difficult to quantify, much of this is associated with the World Heritage Site and the Jurassic Coast brand.

It was also clear that residents highly value the contribution the Dorset environment makes to their own well-being, and that they continue to value the largely free and open access currently afforded.

Photo: David Merrett via Flickr