Walking Makes the Welsh Economy Healthy!

Posted by Elfyn Jones on 16/07/2011
credit Jon Garside

A newly published study, produced by the Welsh Economy Research Unit at Cardiff University concludes that walking (including hill walking) is a major generator of income for the Welsh economy. The study, commissioned by Ramblers Wales, with support from the BMC, Visit Wales and the Countryside Council for Wales is the first study of its kind that statistically evaluates the economic impact of walking and hill walking in Wales.

The key findings of the study are outlined below:

  • It is estimated that in 2009 there were 28 million walking related trips to the Welsh countryside and coast. Expenditure associated with these walking and hill walking trips was around £632m (direct spending).
  • After leakages from this direct spending were removed, and the indirect impacts calculated through Input Output modelling, the overall expenditure impacts of walking activities in 2009 were estimated as:

£562m of additional demand in the Welsh economy;
£275m of gross value added; 
and around 11,980 person-years of employment.

  • Walking and hill walking activities in 2009 accounted for around 16% of the total tourism GVA in Wales.
  • Domestic overnight visitors staying away from home in Wales were the major contributing factor to the overall economic impact of walking and hill walking in Wales.
  • Much of the value in the study rests in the development of a baseline of tourism consumption spending associated with walking and hill walking. It is only recently that the opportunity has become available to undertake this type of analysis with improvements in underlying survey resources and with a system of Welsh tourism satellite accounts with which to explore the components and contribution of different types of tourism spending in Wales.
  • The developed baseline becomes a means through which policymakers and walking institutions in Wales can now better understand the effects, for example, of initiatives which might increase the number of walking trips taking place in Wales. For example, this type of baseline will be particularly valuable where projects in Wales are claiming that interventions will lead to an increase in numbers of walking trips, but with no real means of understanding what an increase in trips means for the Welsh economy.

The full report can be downloaded here.

Angela Charlton, Director of Ramblers Cymru, said: “Walking has so many benefits; from health and well-being to sustainable transport and now this research has made it clear that walking has huge benefits for the economy and employment too.

“In order to harness these benefits in Wales it is vital that we continue to protect and promote walking opportunities and the walking environment. We want Wales to be an enticing destination for walkers everywhere and for our footpaths and walking infrastructure to be the envy of the walking world.”



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