Nature tourism research

A groundbreaking research report looking at the value of nature tourism to the economy of Greater Lincolnshire.

Many people in Greater Lincolnshire, both conservationists and those in business or the public sector knew that a large number of visitors to the area came for its natural beauty and its wildlife but there was no comprehensive evidence to demonstrate this – or a financial value on the benefits these visitors brought.

Int 2016, the Nature Partnership sought to change this and commissioned Leeds Beckett University to undertake a study which would look at the value of nature tourism to the local economy.

The research report defines nature tourism as:

tourism and day visitor activity where the primary or ancillary purpose is either to view wildlife in a natural setting or to engage with the natural environment in a purposive manner (including enjoying views of the natural landscape as well as observing habitats).

So this would include visitors who have purposely set out to see some part of nature; this could be to visit a nature reserve or birdwatch or even just to enjoy a walk through the countryside.

However the research identified a wider category of tourism, and called this natural heritage tourism. This is tourism where nature is not the primary purpose but is rather the setting or place for the activity. In this way locations have been chosen because of the natural beauty or wildlife but the primary reason is to walk the dog, have a day out with the family or celebrate an occasion.

The study found the value of nature based tourism and leisure activity to Greater Lincolnshire to be as much as £325 million, of which £51 million is associated with holidays and day trips where engaging with wildlife is the primary purpose.

In 2016, the current baseline level of engagement with the natural heritage of the area was estimated at around 5.69 million holiday trips and day visits across the Greater Lincolnshire area. Around 90% of these 5.69 million trips are made by day visitors, most of whom live within the study area.

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