On behalf of the South West Coast Path partnership we have commissioned research to evidence the economic and other benefits the path provides to the region and to guide future work.

South West Coast Path Monitoring and Evaluation Framework 2010-2015


A key objective of the South West Coast Path partnership is to increase the economic benefits that the Coast Path generates across the region.

To monitor this, we have commissioned the SW Research Company to provide a robust monitoring and evaluation framework to estimate of visitor spend to be calculated and the effectiveness of the Unlocking our Coastal Heritage project, Coastal Communities Fund and other investments in delivering economic growth. This company specialises in tourism research and its other clients include the SW Tourism Alliance and many of the region’s Destination Management Organisations.

The core of the research was 2,481 face to face interviews undertaken with a minimum of 200 in coastal, urban and rural locations per county.  This understanding of staying visitors movements on holiday and to estimate leakage out of coastal locations and additional spend coming in from other areas. This was then modelled alongside annually produced national datasets (including the Great Britain Day Visit Survey) to allow for an overall estimate of the volume and value of the Coast Path to be calculated. The Gross Value Added (GVA) and employment estimates were then calculated using ONS and Cambridge model data.

This analysis has since been repeated annually, and the key findings are:

Between 2010 and 2015:

  • Tourism visits to the South West Coast Path grew by 11% from 7.8 million to 8.6 million / year;
  • Expenditure by South West Coast Path users increased by £118 million from £382 million to £500 million;
  • Number of full time equivalent jobs sustained by expenditure incurred by South West Coast Path walkers increased by 1,877 to 11,193;
  • 2014 saw a drop (since reversed in visitor numbers) and this is thought to be a result of the storm damage in February 2014 which caused numerous sections of the Coast Path to be temporarily closed or diverted. Dorset which was relatively unscathed by the storms was the only county to see continued growth in 2014.
  • Number of visits to our website grew by over 300% from 324,000 to 1,046,000.
  • Overall spend by South West Coast Path walkers increased by 31%, compared to 16% for tourism as a whole within the region.

This demonstrates how investment in the South West Coast Path, as a key rural tourism infrastructure asset can deliver growth within the tourism sector.

South West Coast Path visitor spendJobs sustained by South West Coast Path South West Coast Path economic growth

Full details of the methodology and results are available as pdf downloads:


Tourism value of the natural environment and outdoor activities in the South West (Jan 2016)

A report examining the value of value of outdoor recreation activities in the South West and the importance of the natural environmment in motivating visits. This is a desktop study that uses the findings and methodology of the Visiting Activies research released by Visit England along with other datasets to provide a regional and county estimate of total spend and jobs sustained by outdoor recreation tourism visits motivated by the natural environment in the South West.

Business survey (Dec 2015)

This research was commissioned to find out from businesses how the seasonality of the tourism trade effects their profitability and ability to employ staff, along with what measures they considered would best overcome these issues.

For more information about this research, please contact [email protected]