National Park visitors on the increase, happier and staying for longer, survey of tourists finds

The Westmorland Gazette: National Park visitors on the increase, happier and staying for longer, survey of tourists finds National Park visitors on the increase, happier and staying for longer, survey of tourists finds

VISITORS to the Yorkshire Dales National Park are happy with the park and are staying longer, according to a new survey.

Those reporting to be first time visitors were up from seven per cent during the last survey in 2008 to 10 per cent in 2013.

The authority commissioned face-to-face surveys last year.

Scenery, remoteness and walking were named as the main draws, closely followed by the peace and tranquillity of the area.

The majority of people also said they would definitely go back.

Ninety per cent of respondents said they had visited before, 70 per cent of them in the last 12 months compared to 64 per cent in the last similar survey in 2008.

And the number of first-time visitors has risen from seven per cent in 2008 to 10 per cent.

The results show more people were staying in the area for an average of five nights – 58 per cent compared to 47 per cent in 2008 – while 42 per cent were visiting the area for the day, compared to 53 per cent in 2008.

Just over a third lived in the Yorkshire and Humberside region, 17 per cent came from the North West and seven per cent of the visitors were from other countries – mainly New Zealand, Australia and Germany – compared with two per cent in 2008.

Satisfaction levels also increased with 77 per cent of visitors claiming to be very satisfied with their visit – up four per cent on 2008.

And 82 per cent said they were very likely to visit the area again in the next five years.

Ian McPherson, the authority’s member champion for promoting understanding, said: “It is helpful to have this research. Although the figures are positive, we really need to continue to work with tourism businesses in the Dales to look for ways to encourage visitors to stay longer in the area.

“We know we have a high level of loyal repeat visitors, but we cannot rest on our laurels and we should try to look for ways to attract new visitors to the area.”

The results also show that the sources of information used to plan a visit have changed over the last five years, although there is still a way to go before electronic sources replace paper-based ones.

The 2013 surveys show that maps were still the most frequently-used source of information used by respondents (26 per cent), followed by guide books (14 per cent) and leaflets (13 per cent).

But the results for paper-based information are less than the figures in 2008, which were 52 per cent, 22 per cent, and 22 per cent respectively.

The surveys involved 515 people and took place at a range of busy visitor locations in the National Park, including Malham, Aysgarth, Ribblehead and Grassington.

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