The South West Coast Path has always been a driving force behind the region’s economy. But now, during unprecedented times, it is a beacon of hope for the future. 

A place where people are eager to return to when it is safe to do so. We are doing everything we can to help our business supporters, and the south west tourism industry, weather this terrible storm. And we will be there when it is over, continuing to champion a Trail that does so much every year to support the local economy: attracting over 9 million visitors, bringing in £500 million in visitor spend and supporting 11,000 jobs.

But we must hasten to remember, that whilst the Coast Path is the initial draw for many, it is the overall experience that has people coming back again and again. World-class walking, comfortable stays in stunning locations, the chance to enjoy amazing local food & drink and of course, that well-known west country welcome. Together with local businesses, we are helping people create memories that last a lifetime.  

How hard has the tourism industry been hit

Photo: closed cafe by Tim Mossholder

Research shows the cost of the pandemic to the tourism industry in the UK will be £15 billion in 2020 alone, putting a third of all jobs permanently at risk and seeing tourism-reliant coastal communities, like those along the South West Coast Path, hit hardest. In the south west, accommodation providers of all shapes and sizes, food and drink outlets and the producers who supply them, unique heritage attractions and coastal activity operators are all fighting for survival. But it is our ‘natural capital’ that can help us through these difficult times. Further research indicates that many Brits will choose to visit beauty spots in the UK instead of travelling abroad, with the south west and coastal locations topping the list. Supporting the Trail now will help the local tourism economy survive and thrive once visitors return.  

Why walking matters to the region’s tourism economy  

Photo: Nordic walking tour on the Coast Path in Cornwall

Walking has the power to lengthen the tourism season. It attracts both domestic and international visitors year-round to enjoy our natural environment, heritage, culture and leisure activities - driving sustainable growth of the south west’s tourism economy. The ever-growing popularity of walking and spending time outdoors plays a vital role. Almost a third of British holiday makers now want to take a walking break and more than half of international visitors are interested in short coastal walks. Research by The Ramblers has shown that this type of visitor also brings greater economic benefits to towns, as walkers stay longer and spend more. In fact, 76% of our Coast Path businesses tell us that off-season periods are now their busiest time for walkers, making our role in improving and repairing the Trail ever more important. Building up the Path’s resilience to climate change and ensuring it is usable all year round is crucial in helping the economy survive and thrive.

Why the Coast Path matters to coastal communities

UK visitors are responsible for helping to transfer £25 billion of spend from towns to seaside and rural areas like those along the South West Coast Path. Seasonal employment and lack of investment means that many of the coastal communities along the Trail are some of the most economically challenged in the UK, but the South West Coast Path provides an important link between them helping to bring visitors to towns and villages, which might otherwise be forgotten. Every £1 invested in seaside areas has the potential to boost the local economy by £8, making initiatives along the Trail, which celebrate the rich local history, heritage, cultural and wildlife of the area, an important part of improving the economy for our coastal communities along the Path.       

What kind of work do we undertake to support the economy?

Discover some of our current projects which benefit the region's economy:

Sponsored by

The South West Business Council


"The National Trail is a huge economic asset which too many within the region have not fully appreciated - Covid-19 has lifted the lid on the need for healthier communities and healthier businesses. Damage to the footpath over the winter requires constant effort to repair, and with climate change the level of damage will only increase. This initiative is therefore crucial to keeping this regional asset fit for purpose and in ensuring that the Path can be enjoyed for 365 days a year. If the investment can’t be met to maintain, improve and protect these assets they will be seriously under threat. We, as a business community, need to do all we can to protect this great network.”

- Tim Jones, Chairman of the SWBC