Rising tide of tourism on the South West Coast Path

Figures released today about the South West Coast Path, show that walkers using England’s longest National Trail spent around £468m during 2014, an increase of almost 23% in the past five years. It bucks the trend for tourism in the region as a whole, which increased by 12% overall but has remained fairly static in the past two years.

With 1 million more visitors spending an additional £86.7m in the region’s tourism businesses, the South West Coast Path is clearly a valuable asset to help grow the region’s economy and is responsible for the employment of 10,610 full time equivalent jobs.

Mark Owen, National Trail Officer for the South West Coast Path said:

“These figures are a great result and demonstrate the success of the investment in improving and promoting the Path by the Rural Development Fund for England and other investors. However the research also highlights the vulnerability of the Path, with the extensive storm damage of early 2014 resulting in a slight decline in usage compared to the previous year.  Thanks to the work of the many hard-working people who look after the Path, most of this damage has since been repaired and indications are that 2015 has seen further growth in the number of visitors and thus increased benefits to the region’s tourism industry.”.”

News of this increase in economic value comes just as the recent spending review has cast some uncertainty over how well the Coast Path will be funded in future.

Esther Pearson, Director of the South West Coast Path Association said:

 “While these figures show an increase in visits over five years, during the same period government funding from Natural England for path maintenance has decreased by around 30%.

“The South West Coast Path Association has been working hard to raise funds to protect this vital asset, through fundraising events and membership schemes for individuals and businesses.”

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 South West Coast Path Association visit

More detailed results and breakdown of the figures on a county by county basis are in the main body of the report along with source data available at

Published on: Dec. 18, 2015