REVIEW OF EARLIER RESEARCH RELEVANT TO DOWNLAND TOURISM.
This chapter evaluates the various pre-existing tourism related research reports and papers as data sources for identifying Downland tourism demand. Tourism "product" supply is dealt with separately in Chapter 4 which covers the commercial resource and infrastructure and Chapter 7 which looks at the Downland product. There are a number of research programmes of varying types that have been carried out by different agencies, each with their own particular objectives. Some of these are continuous monitors and others are ad hoc in nature. Unfortunately there are several shortcomings to the generally available data.
1. Visitors researched do not necessarily accord with the definitions set for tourism in this study, as debated in Chapter 4.
2. Most studies relate to regions which only partially include areas of the Sussex Downs study area as determined in Chapter 2. As a result a degree of judgement is required if any conclusions are to be drawn pertinent to the Sussex Downs as defined for this study.
3. Much of the data is incompatible with that of other surveys rendering any attempt at amalgamation suspect.
4. Surveys are restricted to certain venues resulting in a sample that does not represent the majority.
5. Some data has been collected for specific purposes; if taken out of that specific context, interpretation may be suspect.
This chapter first lists each report together with characteristics. It then goes on to summarise key points from the reports which amplify an understanding of tourism demand. An important aspect of this evaluation is the identification of gaps in the knowledge regarding the Sussex Downs which is then addressed through further research. Later citation of the reports is either through footnotes or by referring to the report number in [square] brackets within the text.
(1) REGIONAL TOURISM FACTS SOUTH EAST ENGLAND.
This document was prepared by SEETB in conjunction with BTA/ETB Research Services. It is dated Oct 1992 and is compiled from a number of sources.
The sources used include the United Kingdom Tourism Survey which is a monthly audit of a representative sample of UK adults based on face to face interviews. It is carried out by the national tourist boards and regional data is extrapolated from the survey. Where regional or market sector data is analysed the accuracy of the sample will decay as smaller sub samples are used and it has been noted that using this data as a basis for local analysis gives misleading results. This data base however is used as a principal source in the findings presented but is supported by the International Passenger Survey on overseas visitors and the Horwath-English Tourist Board English Hotel Occupancy Survey where relevant. Further sources include the ETB's Survey of Attractions and the Leisure Day Visits Survey 1988/9.
A significant problem with this data is that it is organised to reflect South East England and is not therefore necessarily representative of the Sussex Downs.
(2) SOUTH EAST FIRST - A STRATEGY FOR TOURISM IN SOUTH EAST ENGLAND.
This document was prepared by SEETB and published c. 1991. The data is derived from similar sources to (1) Regional Tourism Facts although predates that used in the afore mentioned report.
(3) TOURISM FACT SHEETS.
These documents are available by county and are produced by SEETB c.1989. They consolidate information from a wide variety of sources and provide a valuable summary of tourism supply data such as facilities for tourism, bedspace etc. They are of less relevance to this chapter which seeks specifically to evaluate tourism demand factors.
(4) WEST SUSSEX VISITOR SURVEY.
In 1988 West Sussex County Council published the findings of a visitor survey which was conducted through a questionnaire. The original research was conducted in 1986 and so is now somewhat dated. It concentrated on Arun, Horsham and Chichester Districts and therefore encapsulates data which is outside the study area. The survey was also conducted at organised venues and is therefore not a representative sample of Downland visitors pursuing informal recreation.
Although it was envisaged that the information be updated every two years, this has not been done. The WSCC Business Support Officer's wish to update the work has led to the joint visitor research project with the University of Sussex and SEETB in 1993/4, initiated as part of a cooperative venture for data collection for this thesis.
(5) EXPLORING SUSSEX GUIDED WALKS AND RIDES PROGRAMME.
Both East and West Sussex County Council actively support guided walks and rides conducted by organisations and individuals. This activity has been growing and enjoys sponsorship from the Countryside Commission and the Sports Council.
In 1990, questionnaires were used to investigate the characteristics of participants and the results and analysis of returns were published by ESCC in 1992.
This has resulted in a number of useful recommendations for the future which are relevant to the Sussex Downs. This survey however is very much a product evaluation and as such is of less value in appraising tourism demand. The findings are therefore not considered in this chapter.
(6) OUTDOOR RECREATION.
This report summarises selected outdoor recreation activities and their characteristics. It is produced from the Sports Council's Digest of Sports Statistics for the UK. No 7 dated 1986. The information is therefore dated. In spite of this it does summarise some useful general information on trends in particular pursuits, but this is for the UK overall and not just the Downland. The data therefore has some relevance to the outdoor recreation opportunities on the Downs but gives only a general guide to demand.
A more recent work is the 1993 UK Day Visits Survey published in Countryside Recreation Network News by the Dept of Regional Planning, University of Wales. The data is for Great Britain. This updates a 1992 survey and is based on day visits from home for over 15 year olds. This sample specification limits it for use in Downland assessment but never the less the data is used for comparison purposes.
(7) STANDARD VISITOR SURVEYS - SOUTH DOWNS WAY.
This is one of the few surveys conducted solely for the Downland. The survey was in two parts and both were published in 1992 having been carried out in the summer of 1991. It was conducted in both East and West Sussex and provides a useful insight into visitors using the sites at which the research was conducted.
There is some discrepancy between the responses for each part of the survey but this is attributable to the different site characteristics where the surveys were conducted.
This research has recently been supplemented by a Standard Visitor Survey of the Downs Link (1993). Carried out by WSCC, this project investigated users of the long distance footpath and bridleway that link the North and South Downs Ways. Whilst not specifically a Downland survey it provides useful background information.
(8) MAFF ESA VISITOR AND HOUSEHOLD SURVEY.
This survey was conducted by Willis et al at the University of Newcastle, Dept of Town and Country Planning on behalf of MAFF in the winter 1992/3. Two regions were researched in tandem, the South Downs and the Somerset Levels ESAs. The survey probed opinion towards and monetary value of, the Downland ESA landscape and as such is potentially an important monitor of both attitudes to and costs of landscape protection on the Downs. The technique adopted was to determine the consumer surplus, that is the utility derived from the facility over and above the cost. Contingent valuation methods were developed to investigate willingness to pay via the taxation process. A balanced sample of visitors and residents were solicited with a interview and questionnaire. The author undertook field work for the survey on behalf of the University of Newcastle team.
As a result estimates of the value of the Downland landscape were possible for residents, visitors and non users. When coupled with resident population and visitor numbers, this enabled a gross valuation of "public worth" to be estimated. In view of the importance of these estimates to both the ESA and tourism development in general, the findings are detailed and developed at greater length in the following chapters.
Dialogue with the Centre for Rural Economy at Newcastle University enabled the findings to be available for inclusion in this thesis.
(9) EAST SUSSEX TOURISM SURVEY LOCATIONS REPORT 1992.
This study was completed and published in the Spring of 1993. It was commissioned by a consortium of agencies which included ESCC, SEETB and a number of District Councils working under the "TOES" (Tourism Officers of East Sussex) forum. It consisted of a questionnaire survey conducted by direct interview of visitors to six key locations; Ashdown, Brighton, Eastbourne, Hastings, Lewes and Rye.
The findings indicated a distinct and different profile for each location and this suggests that it was in fact six surveys with the amalgamation of results producing some dubious averages. In spite of this some very useful information is contained therein. None of the locations fall within the inner core study area although several are in the outer zone. Whilst the findings are of limited value in identifying the characteristics of Downland visitors, the survey is important in identifying the characteristics of visitors to locations with easy access to the Downland.
(10) RECREATIONAL USE OF THE HERITAGE COAST.
This research was carried out for ESCC and the Sports Council by the Leisure Research Unit at University of Brighton in 1993. At its inception it was to be part of the extensive cooperative visitor research venture carried out for this thesis. Due to difficulties in reconciling timing and scope the research was eventually carried out as a separate venture. The questionnaire used was based on that for the Downland Visitor Survey. Due to the need to ensure that the Downland Survey was conducted over a balanced sample, Heritage Coast locations were included. As a result the ESCC/Sports Council data was of less interest for use in this thesis. The survey does have data on club and group use of the Downland not encompassed directly by the Downland Visitor Survey.
Having identified a number of relevant research reports and papers, it is now possible to review and attempt to consolidate the general findings under a number of subject headings.
THE SOUTH EAST AS PART OF THE UK.
The South East accounts for about 10 percent of UK overnight tourist trips and 9 percent of spending. In 1990 this amounted to UK pounds 1210m. In addition 49 million day visitors were attracted adding a further UK pounds 412m.
The general trend is towards shorter holidays and this is bringing about a general decline in the overnight sector. The short holiday sector is expected to grow by 15 - 20 percent between 1990 and 1995.
At least 66 percent of all visitors within the South East come from London and the South East. This suggests that as a rule of thumb, two thirds of visitors emanate from within 100 miles. This will be qualified by later research findings.
Day tripping is generally increasing in popularity. A survey over a fixed list of attractions by ETB shows that visitor numbers have increased by 55 percent 1976 - 1989. This trend is forecast to continue with a further 12 - 15 percent growth by 1995.
The South East ranks second only to London in attracting overseas visitors and this sector is growing. Overseas visitors spend more money proportionately. Many visitors come to England to study and the number of language schools in the South East is an important factor in attracting tourists. This niche market is expected to grow by 24 percent 1990 - 1995.
Of particular relevance to the Downland is the fact that leisure time and mobility are generally increasing but that this is not precipitating increased long holiday overnight tourism. Instead, it is resulting in increased leisure day tripping. The Downland will predictably experience an increase in background demand for day visits either as part of a leisure day out or as a component in a short break, particularly where greater emphasis is being placed on "green" pursuits. The relatively low cost of outdoor recreation will further intensify demand for the Downland experience.
OVERNIGHT TOURISM IN SUSSEX.
Overnight tourism volume and value in Sussex for 1991 is estimated to be as Table 5:1.
OVERNIGHT TOURISM IN SUSSEX.
UK Residents Overseas Total
Trips : 2.7m 0.75m 3.45m
Nights: 11.8m 8.1m 19.9m
Spending (UK pounds): 311m 257m 568m
The data in Table 5:1 will include the south coast seaside resorts which fall into the outer study zone but excludes recreational day trips. In spite of this there are a number of points that can be made relevant to the Sussex Downs:
a) 40 percent of overnight stays are by overseas residents.
b) 45 percent of expenditure is by overseas residents.
c) UK residents average 7 nights and overseas visitors 11 nights per trip. These figures appear to be at odds with figures quoted in Tourism Facts Sheets for 1988 where the average stay was 3.8 nights and 9.1 nights respectively for West Sussex in isolation. The similar East Sussex figures are 3.5 nights and 10.85 nights respectively. With the trend identified elsewhere of a move towards shorter stays, the above figures illustrate the difficulties of reconciling published data.
Overseas visitors are an important component of the total demand for overnight tourism. This factor will increase with the development of Channel Tunnel traffic after 1994 and the completion of the Honiton to Folkestone Trunk Road by the late 1990s. Tourist resources therefore must accommodate the needs of overseas visitors and this may mean foreign language interpretation locally and marketing initiatives on mainland Europe.
USE OF TOURIST ACCOMMODATION.
Accommodation used in 1991 on trips by UK residents is detailed in Table 5:2. The percentages in Table 5:2 total slightly more than 100% due to more than one type of accommodation being used on a trip. The relevance to the Sussex Downs of the data is speculative because overseas visitors are not included and the data is for all the UK. The similarly, but not identically, categorised comparable figures from the West Sussex survey are given in brackets. These include foreign visitors and are based on venues near or on the Downs.
TYPES OF ACCOMMODATION
(percentages) all excluding friends/relatives
Hotel/Guest House 20 [17.6] 43
Paying Guest 2 4
Rented House/flat/chalet 6 [9.3] 13
Towed Caravan 3 [11.2] 6
Camping 5 [7.6] 11
Home friend/relative 54 [33.1] excluded
Other 14 [21.2] 30
source: (1) except figures in square brackets from source (4).
There are a number of possible points that can be deduced.
a) Hotel and Guest House accommodation is important for total tourism. The vast bed resource in the south coast seaside resorts thus offers a reservoir of tourist accommodation which may result in pressure to visit the Downs.
b) In the second column the percentages have been reworked to exclude staying with friends and relatives. This is done to provide a speculative assessment of how overseas visitors may behave; they are less likely to use this type of accommodation. Rented house or similar thus gains in importance with paying guest being still a small figure. The relevance of these figures is that they perhaps suggest that rented accommodation is a better proposition for such enterprises as farm tourism diversification than paying guests. Any such diversification, particularly in the northern peripheral zone should consider this point.
The two South Downs Way Standard Visitor Surveys throw an interesting further light on these figures. Each of the two survey findings are quoted as follows. 40/34 percent of overnight tourists were staying with friends and relatives. This accords more closely with the West Sussex figures in Table 5:2 in brackets. 26/29 percent were in hotels/guest houses and, surprisingly 22/17 percent were camping or caravanning. This is significantly higher than the general data and suggests that the Downland visitor has characteristics which differ from the regular overnight tourist. This enables a clearer picture of the Downland visitor to emerge. The situation is confused however by the findings of the 1992 ESCC/SEETB Locations survey (9) which identifies only 19 percent of overnight visitors staying with friends and relatives. Such confusion underlines the importance of a discrete Downland visitor survey.
Returning to the West Sussex Visitor Survey of 1986, detailed analysis indicates that the accommodation is disproportionately used depending on the home origins of the visitor. Visitors from catchment zones within 60 miles show a greater propensity to use holiday cottages/flats, touring caravans and tents. Those from further afield are inclined to use friends and relatives, hotels and bed and breakfast. The implications for Sussex Downs tourism is that the type of accommodation provision needs to be weighted according to anticipated visitor profiles.
SEASONALITY OF TOURISM.
This is shown in Table 5:3.
Table 5:3 TOURISM BY QUARTER YEAR (percent)
UK residents Overseas
First quarter 21 14
Second quarter 24 24
Third quarter 33 43
Fourth quarter 23 19
source: (1) (rounding gives 101 percent in col.1)
Unfortunately the data source fails to identify whether the figures are based on volume or expenditure. Also the data is for all the UK. In spite of this the following comments could apply to the Sussex Downs.
a) 67 percent of all UK tourism falls outside the third peak quarter. This compares with 57 percent of overseas visitors. The third quarter is therefore an important period in which to cater for overseas visitors. There are opportunities for servicing the home demand at other times and skilful prioritisation would engineer a seasonal spread of total visitors to advantage.
b) August is the peak month for long holidays, this is particularly relevant to overseas visitors. Point a) therefore particularly applies to this month. Short stay holidays, which are an increasing market sector, are much more evenly spread across the four seasons. This has implications for visitor spread and management on the Downs where short breaks are an important source of visitor pressure.
DAY TRIPPERS VERSUS OVERNIGHT TOURISTS.
The relationship between day tripping for leisure and overnight tourism can be seen in Table 5:4 which applies to the South East of England, 1991.
DAY AND OVERNIGHT TOURISM
Total all trips 57.3 millions
Overnight tourism trips 6.4 millions (Sussex 2.7m)
Day trips 50.9 millions
The demand for all tourism can be seen to divide into roughly 10 percent for trips of one or more nights and 90 percent for day trips. The difficulty in interpreting such figures however arises from the problem of determining the number of day trips that are made by overnight tourists as part of a holiday experience. In addition recreational visits by locals are excluded. Generalisations, although potentially flawed as a research technique, can be made from this data source.
a) For every one overnight tourist there are nine day trippers. If however the average length of a holiday stay is about 10 nights as indicated earlier, the number of days spent by both day trippers and longer stay visitors in the region is about the same. This is born out in source (4) where visitors to all sites were split 45/55 percent holiday/day visitors. Source (9) gives further endorsement with a 46/54 percentage split.
b) Although day trippers account for 89 percent of the total trips they only account for 29 percent of the expenditure. This is particularly relevant to the Sussex Downs in that the Downland is an amenity in which commercial exploitation is not a priority. Day trippers need less commercial infrastructure by implication than overnight tourists. The Downs is therefore likely to be under pressure to accommodate increasing numbers of day trippers as the market expands, particularly if the infrastructure of overnight tourism is sited off the Downland.
The South Downs Way surveys (7) adds some confirmation to these general figures but at the same time raises the area of confusion that exists between day tripping in isolation or as part of an overnight holiday. Most visitors were on day trips, whilst 25/20 percent were on holiday, but making day trips within the holiday.
The WSCC Visitor Survey adds a further dimension to the relationship between day and overnight visitors. Day visitors are much more likely to repeat visit, as would be expected, with nearly 30 percent visiting two or more times. Repeat visits could therefore be a feature of Downland tourism where there is low cost and random access and this point is later explored in the customised Visitor Survey.
TYPES OF OVERNIGHT TOURISM.
Overnight tourism trips in the South East can be sub divided into several categories of experience, see Table 5:5. Of the overall estimated 6.4 million trips it can be seen that short and long stay holidays account for about one third of the total each. Also significant however is the importance of visiting friends and relatives. This figure is significantly lower for the South East than that previously quoted for the UK under "types of accommodation". It can be seen that there is greater emphasis on other types of overnight trips in the South East than there is elsewhere. In particular the high incidence of short holidays is worth noting in the light of the earlier comments on the Downland as part of broader based experience.
TYPES OF OVERNIGHT TOURISM (SE)
Long Holidays 31 55
Short Holidays 33 22
Business/work 7 13
Visit friends/relatives 23 8
other 5 2
In terms of the relevance of this data to the Downland, it could be argued that, in catering for day tripping by overnight tourists, accommodation reservoirs are needed to service long and short stay tourism. However, in addition, the existence of considerable centres of urban population within easy reach of the Downland means that the third important category, visiting friends and relatives, will still provide a significant demand for day tripping tourists as part of a holiday activity package.
The South Downs Way surveys (7) confirm these general figures. About a quarter of visitors were on short stay breaks.
TYPES OF OVERNIGHT TOURIST.
Some indication of the age and social class of overnight tourists can be gauged from the following S E England data for 1991 derived from source (1) and for the six East Sussex towns derived from source (9)
Percentage breakdown by age and social class is given in Table 5:6.
DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILE OF OVERNIGHT TOURISM
Age Social Class
(1) (9) (1) (9)
15/17-24 20 12* AB 34 25
25-34 22 16 C1 24 28
35-44 19 16 C2 26 19
45-54 10 14 DE 16 28
55-64 14 16
65+ 15 26
totals 100 100 100 100
source: (1) & (9), * adjusted for different age break.
The difference between the two data sets can be attributed to the specific nature and characteristics of the six venues surveyed in (9).
This data can provide a useful tool in evaluating numbers of potential visitors to the Downland. If used in conjunction with population demographics from catchment zones, estimates can be made of potential demand for day tripping by overnight tourists frequenting the dormitories in the peripheral zones. To achieve this however, the data needs to be evaluated together with information on the likelihood of overnight tourists visiting the Downland and the demographic profile of such visitors. This information has not been identified but could well be researched.
Some general information on visitor type can be gleaned from the Standard Visitor Surveys of the South Downs Way (7) Most visitors were in groups, predominantly twos. Families tended to go for the most accessible sites. The 25-44 age group was the most likely to use the sites followed by the 45-64 group.
Mode of travel is a significant aspect of tourism analysis and Table 5:7 provides an insight into the importance of various types of transport used by tourists in 1991 in the S E of England. The two Standard Visitor Surveys (7) show similar figures, both survey findings are given as follows. 84/81 percent of visitors arrived by car but with only 2/3 percent taking public transport. 5/7 percent used bicycles and 9/6 percent walked. Further endorsement comes from source (9) which identified 58 percent travelling by car, the most popular mode of transport.
Bus service 3
Coach excursion 2
The following comments are relevant to Sussex Downs tourism.
a) The high reliance on the car as the most significant form of transport raises further issues; as an integral part of a policy of access to the Downland for recreation, should the car be accommodated as the necessary form of transport? Alternatively by taking measures to restrict the car, does this become a deterrent to access and thus negate the ideals of the conservation and access movement? Source (9) particularly identified the need for car parking and toilets in its conclusions.
b) Train accounts for 9 percent of the total visitor travel mode in the South East and as such is an important means of travel. The percentage is significantly less for the South Downs as illustrated by the low percentage of visitors using any form of public transport. The Sussex Downs are well served with main line train routes, although subsequent research will indicate that this is of minimal significance to visitors.
THE NATURE OF THE VISIT.
Activities undertaken by tourists are valuable indicators as to the type of experience that is sought as well as the proportion of total visitors who would be attracted by the resources of the Downland. Table 5:8 indicates activities undertaken on trips in the South East during 1991.
activity percentage participating:
Visiting Heritage Sites 12
Watch performing arts* 8
Theme Park visits* 6
Visiting museums etc 5
Field Study 2
Watch Sport* 2
source: (1) * = see text.
In Table 5:8, those items asterisked are unlikely to be available on the Downland. If these activities were mutually exclusive then the suggestion is that about one third of all trips incorporate an experience which could be gained on the Downland. As the activities are unlikely mutually exclusive, some participants carrying out more than one activity, then the actual figure is somewhere below 33%.
Further insight into activities pertinent to the Downland can be obtained from the Standard Visitor Surveys (7). About half the visitors were there to walk, 9/10 percent were cycling and 2/2 percent horse riding. Walking as a pastime is by far the most popular outdoor activity in Britain, as noted in (6).
What was particularly interesting was the duration of the trip. This varied considerably between the two (7) surveys and indicates that the sites in which the research was conducted had substantially different visitor duration profiles. In (1) the length of stay was under one hour for 40 percent of visitors, only 17 percent spent more than three hours. By contrast (2) indicated that only 26 percent stayed for less than one hour and 30 percent stayed in excess of three hours.
This suggests that some sites are frequented as a small part of a days total activity plan whilst others have the potential for being a major stop in their own right. This has important implications when assessing visitor impact on the Downland as aggregated "total person impact" is a combination of visitor numbers and time spent. It also confirms that venues have distinct and different visitor characteristics. For example, visitors over 40 years old to historic houses account for 76.8 percent of all visitors to the houses. On the Downland, the suggestion is that the 25-44 age group is the dominant range. In devising any site strategy for Downland tourism, it is essential to match the demographics of demand against those of "product" supply as related to that site.
CATCHMENT ZONES AND TIME TRAVELLED.
The use of South East regional surveys is limited with respect to identifying catchment zones for potential visitors to the Sussex Downs. The Standard Visitor Surveys (7) do however give some indication as to distance travelled and from where. Probably the most useful pre-existing data comes from the MAFF research  and this is considered in detail later.
Most visitors had travelled between 11 - 50 miles to the Downland site. The two Visitor Surveys, for which both figures are given, suggest that only 6/9 percent had travelled in excess of 50 miles and the balance less than 11 miles. These figures start to give a clue as to the origins of visitors. Home addresses reflected the importance of large urban catchment areas within Sussex, Hampshire and London but not Kent.
Further light is shed on visitor origins from source (4). Table 5:9 data is recorded for all sites researched in West Sussex. In source (9), inbound visitors from abroad were identified from 35 different countries, 46 percent originating from the EC. In this survey the relationship between inbound and home based visitors is distorted because of the quota requirement for foreign visitors within the sample. The equivalent of the Table 5:9 would therefore be meaningless.
ORIGIN OF TOURISTS
place of residence percentage of all visitors
West Sussex 25.4
Kent,E Sussex, Surrey 22.8
Hampshire, I O W. 12.9
Rest SE England + E Anglia 13.6
Rest UK. 6.4
N America 1.7
Elsewhere/not recorded 2.1
source: (4) p7.
What is particularly interesting is that the Table 5:9 figures from (4), which are based on visitors to specific sites, comprised so few foreigners. This is not in accordance with general tourism data shown earlier. With about half of all visitors being overnight holiday makers, at least a quarter of those would be expected to be foreigners, that is 12.5 percent of all visitors. As this is not the case the suggestion is that the venues researched were not securing their expected share of foreign visitors. This may not be representative of Downland venues as it was a West Sussex survey, but it does suggest that certain types of venues are not securing their share of this high spending sector. The Downland experience is either less accessible or less sought by foreign visitors.
Bearing in mind that the vast majority of visitors arrived by car in this survey (4), it comes as no surprise to learn that the journey time was commonly under one hour. This has implications for tourism pressure on the Downland in that there are a number of factors at work which will increase the desire to visit the Downs for recreation. These include improved road routes reducing travelling time and therefore increasing the catchment zone within acceptable travel time, population growth in urban areas, increasing car utilisation and ownership and more free time where low cost recreation is sought.
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