Discover the Path Project
Rated as one of the world’s best walks, the South West Coast Path is without doubt a great asset to the South West. It draws more than 8.6 million visitors and £500 million spend every year and plays an important part in sustaining coastal economies. We know the region experiences a huge peak of visitors during the main summer season. This causes problems to businesses in their need to scale up and down quickly, and short term job opportunities, and 94% of business responding to our SWCP Business Survey 2015 reported that the seasonal nature of tourism had the largest impact on the profitability of their business. However walking the Coast Path is best done in the off-season months, and our project, ‘Discover England’s South West Coast Path’ has been designed to not only raise international awareness about the 630 miles of stunning coastline we have, but use this asset to attract visitors all-year round.
About the project
Beginning in autumn 2016, we set about creating walking itineraries to highlight some of the most popular sections of the Path. We’ve packed them full of useful information including recommendations on where to eat, drink, sleep and things to see and do along the way. We’ve also added tips on local transport and of course lots of information about exploring the Coast Path! Whether you’re looking for an afternoon stroll to take you to a beautiful view or for a challenge like no other in hiking the entire trail – our itineraries, which are now available Tourist Information Centre’s all over the South West, are a great place to start.
An important part of this project though was to encourage more visitors, particularly during the quieter months. That’s why, we chose to launch the new itineraries to the Dutch and German markets where a strong walking and hiking culture already exists. We started by translating the itineraries into German and Dutch followed by our Complete Guidebook, information leaflets and sections of our website. In early 2017, we set off to a number of key tradeshows in Germany and the Netherlands to promote the new materials and gain insight into these markets. This was supported by a PR and advertising campaign. We were overwhelmed with the response we received and came away from the tradeshows with lots of new contacts to further support our work. Some of the most valuable conversations we had were with journalists, bloggers and international tour operators. As key influencers and trusted advisors, they are able to reach large numbers of our target audience and help us truly put the South West on the map. In March, we organised 20 press and familiarisation trips so journalists, bloggers and tour operators could experience first-hand what a walking holiday to the UK is really like.
To date, we've achieved coverage with a total media value in excess of £1.3 million, we’ve seen a 92% increase on the website from German visitors and 190% increase from Dutch visitors compared to the same period last year. The walking itineraries available online have been downloaded over 5,000 times and our new South West Coast Path App (available on Google Play and the App store) featuring the itineraries has already been downloaded almost 2,000 times. Since visiting, some of the tour operators we hosted have already started offering walking packages and have confirmed bookings to the value of £3,000 with up to £10,000 worth of bookings expected this season. This hugely successful project was made possible thanks to funding provided by the Discover England Fund, a three-year £40 million Government fund to support the growth of tourism in the UK. We have been delivering this project with the help and support of a number of partners; Visit Cornwall, South West Tourism Alliance, Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, Visit Devon, Visit Dorset, English Riviera Bid Company and Exmoor National Park. We would like to say a big thank you to all our partners, volunteers and members for their ongoing support with this project and to Visit England who are responsible for distributing the funding and developing England’s tourism.
Next steps and how to get involved
As a result the progress we’ve made so far, we have been awarded a small amount of bridge funding to keep the momentum of this project going. We are currently organising more press and familiarisation trips and following up with our growing international contact base to take advantage of the many opportunities they present. If you’re already a business member and would like to know more about how you can get involved, please contact us at [email protected] or you can find out about the benefits of becoming a member and how to join here.
Download our app
To enable visitors to easily take walking itineraries, maps and more on their phone they are available on our handy new app.