New figures out today reveal the huge popularity of England’s coastal paths with 29.1 million walking trips made over a six-month period, boosting local economies and bringing health and wellbeing benefits to visitors.
The never-before-released data was collected by Natural England – the government’s adviser on the natural environment. It shows the significant value of coastal walking for health and wellbeing, with 97% of people feeling refreshed and revitalised as a result of their visit.
The data also revealed that visits boosted the economy by £350 million, with day-trippers spending on average £8.65 per day in coastal shops and overnight visitors spending on average £36.73. This supported more than 5,900 full-time equivalent jobs along the English coast.
Natural England is currently establishing a 2,700-mile path around the entire English coastline. Walkers will be able to enjoy, explore and experience some of our finest and most important cultural and natural heritage – from the white cliffs of Dover, to the industrial heritage of the North East. When completed, the England Coast Path will be the longest continuous coastal walking route in the world.
Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said:
“The popularity of the English coast is fantastic news for the millions of people who visit, work and live along it, and there is no better way to relax and enjoy the natural environment than by walking along our beautiful shores.
“We are committed through our 25 Year Environment Plan to encourage more people connect with nature, and I encourage everyone who can to get outside during the festive period to enjoy the outdoors.”
Natural England Chair Tony Juniper said:
England’s wonderful coastline is a national treasure. This research reveals how the coast brings people closer to our magnificent wildlife, contributes to local economies while promoting our health and wellbeing.
Our flagship England Coast Path is taking people through some of the finest and most important landscapes in England, opening up access to historic landmarks, natural wonders and breath-taking scenery, enabling more visitors to experience, recognise and value the benefits of our environment.