South West Coast Path scoops top honour at South West Tourism Excellence Awards

The South West Coast Path National Trail has been awarded the prestigious “Outstanding Contribution to Tourism” title at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards 2013-14. The award was presented by the Chair of Judges, Alistair Handyside, at a black-tie event held last night at the Holiday Inn, Plymouth, in recognition of it being “regularly described as the region’s best asset, that’s not only great for visitors, but is equally important to all that live near it”, adding that it’s “critical and integral to the visitor economies of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset”.

Says Mark Owen, the National Trail Officer for the South West Coast Path Team: “It’s a real honour to accept this award on behalf of the South West Coast Path team and our partners at the South West Coast Path Association, and fantastic to be recognised for some of the achievements made along this National Trail in 2013. We already knew that the Coast Path is among some of the greatest walks in the world but our recent success in attracting support from local businesses to deliver improvements along the route proves that the region’s tourism industry sees its value too. Only this week we announced that the value of the Coast Path is worth £436 million to the region’s economy – not bad for a completely free attraction.

“It’s thanks to those businesses and our partners that have supported us in our work in recent years that we’ve delivered a hugely successful series of improvement projects along the route of the Coast Path, totalling almost a £3m investment and ensuring a long-lasting legacy. Receiving this award is a great way to prove to all our partners that it was worth it!”

News of the award and latest economic figures comes just as the ‘Unlocking our Coastal Heritage’ project, which was launched in 2010, reaches completion. Largely funded with £2.1 million of European grant aid through the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), the aim of this project was to increase the economic value of the South West Coast Path by protecting and enhancing heritage features, improving the quality of the route and working with businesses to improve the facilities and information provided to visitors.  This award along with the recent economic research demonstrates how well this aim has been achieved.

As the longest of 15 National Trails in England and Wales with a length of 630 miles, the South West Coast Path follows the coastline of England’s South West peninsular and is recognised as one of the region’s principal tourism attractions and leisure facilities.  Starting at Minehead in Somerset, it follows the coastline of Devon, Cornwall and Dorset until it reaches its end at Poole Harbour.

For more information about the Unlocking our Coastal Heritage project and the four strands to conserve, enhance and interpret the Coast Path, visit



Pictured (L to R): Chair of Judges Alistair Handyside, Mark Owen, the National Trail Officer for the South West Coast Path Team (SWCPT), Ken Carter from the South West Coast Path Association, the evening’s guest speaker, journalist Sally Shalam, Esther Pearson (SWCPA), Jo Kiddell (SWCPT), Debbie Bakewell (SWCPA), Bella Crawford (SWCPT), Alex Green (SWCPT) and Andrew Lack (SWCPA).

Published on: Jan. 31, 2014