Following a year-long survey of climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers over one weekend each month, we have begun to understand the patterns of where people are going, what they are doing and how much they are spending. The report out today highlights some key findings, not least that we estimate that our members contribute more than £10 million a year to the rural economy.
Between September 2015 and August 2016, the BMC undertook an on-line survey with the aim of it being completed by hillwalkers, climbers and mountaineers. The data begins to allow us to:
Build a profile and evidence base of the types of visitor patterns at various locations;
Understand the decision making process as to why some areas might be more popular than others throughout the year;
Explore trip characteristics such as transport use, accommodation and activities undertaken; and
Build a picture of what we spend on average per visit to our crags and hills.
The survey also aimed to provide up-to-date information so that we can contribute more directly to research and evidence relating to the impact of outdoor recreation. This will hopefully help build a compelling case to government of the real value of outdoor recreation, specifically climbing and hill walking.
The 5-minute survey was completed over 4000 times over a 12 month period and we will be repeating the survey in 2017 / 2018 to continue to build a picture of members’ recreational and spending habits.
The detailed report, written by Access & Management Group member Ken Taylor, can be downloaded in full but here are a few highlights from the survey:
Over 350,000 people living in England and Wales engaged in hill walking, climbing or mountaineering activities at least once a month
Hillwalking for more than 2 hours was by far the most common activity reported (42%). Trad climbing was the second most popular activity
The most commonly visited areas were the Peak District, Lake District and Snowdonia
Respondents who went climbing were asked to say which crag(s) they had visited. Stanage, Burbage and the Roaches (Peak District) were the most popular crags alongside Tremadog and Idwal (North Wales) and Bosigran (South West)
‘Scenery/setting’ and ‘Nature of terrain’ were the most frequently cited reasons for visiting an area
Trad climbers, scramblers and hillwalkers (walking for over 2 hrs) are more likely to do so as member of a club or association
‘Camping on a site’ was the most commonly reported accommodation type for those who stayed overnight, closely followed by other forms of rented accommodation (hotels , B&Bs, bunkhouse, youth hostel and rented self-catering but excluding club huts)
Evidence from this initial survey suggests that each of the BMC’s 83,000 members spent in the order of £60 on each day of a weekend visit to go hillwalking, climbing or mountaineering. This adds up to nearly £10m if each BMC member spent only one weekend staying away per year. The actual annual spend by hillwalkers, climbers and mountaineers in the UK is much higher than this because of multiple visits by BMC members and spending by non-members. It is hoped that subsequent surveys will be able to more clearly demonstrate spending habits.
The estimates arrived at using this initial survey’s data suggest that hillwalkers/climbers/mountaineers account for about 14% of the outdoor leisure market.
Although the sample of hillwalkers, climbers and mountaineers contained in the survey results are not necessarily representative of BMC members as a whole, nor of the total population of hillwalkers, climbers and mountaineers in England and Wales, the initial results begin to paint a very useful picture of visitor patterns at various locations. The survey will be repeated over the coming years in order for us to build a more accurate, confident picture.
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