Britain’s parks attract overseas visitors

Britain’s parks attract overseas visitors

National tourism agency VisitBritain has released research which reveals that a staggering £7.8 billion was spent by tourists enjoying a garden in the UK, with a large chunk coming from younger visitors.

A VisitBritain study identified that of the 31 million people who tend to visit Britain each year, around a third (11.1 million) enjoy a park or garden, with around 2.4 million aged between 25-34 opposed to just 1.4 million aged between 55-64.

There were 2.1 million visits from those aged 35-44 involving parks or gardens, while nearly three-quarters of a million were aged 65+. Overall those aged under-35 were particularly likely to visit a park or garden, with 41% of visits doing so compared to 33% of visits from those aged over 35.

The latest figures confirm that going to a park or garden is one of the most popular activities for our overseas guests, accounting for 36% of all visitors, placing only behind eating out, going to pubs and shopping. It means visitors are surprisingly more likely to spend time in a park or garden than a museum, castle, historic house or art gallery.

Over half of all ‘holiday’ visitors (54%) explore our green surrounds each year, a positive indication that admiration is growing across the world for Britain’s attractive scenery and beautifully crafted gardens. It remains an activity which visitors can enjoy whatever their age group, from Bodnant Gardens with spectacular views across Snowdonia to the intriguing Muncaster in the Lake District or the world famous world-famous historic gardens at Inverewe in the Scottish Highlands. London has also just celebrated 100 years of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and is home to eight Royal Parks and the globally acknowledged UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kew Gardens.

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Unsurprisingly the most popular time of year to visit gardens is the summer months, with July to September accounting for 4 million of the annual tally. By contrast, just 1.6 million visited gardens in the first quarter of 2011.The reason visitors come here plays a strong role in determining what they do during their trip with tourists on ‘holiday’ making up the bulk of visits (6.4 million) followed a distant second by those here to see their friends and family (3.2 million).

The French, as our largest market, seem to prefer our parks and gardens over any other country with 1.25 million visits, spending £406 million in the process. Visitors from America are second in the table with 1.23 million visits, but they spend nearly triple the amount of the French during their visits, at around £1.1 billion. Completing the top three are the Germans, 1.15 million were enchanted by our array of natural beauty and also spent more in the UK than top placed France at £629 million.

Looking at length of stay and propensity to visit a garden produces similarly interesting results. We discovered that the majority of visits are by those holidaying in Britain for between 1 and 3 nights, but that the longer the duration of stay, the greater the likelihood of a visit to a garden, with 56% of 15+ night stays including time in a garden or park.

The Brazilians (61%), Russians (51%) and Chinese (45%) have some of the highest propensity to visit our gardens than any market, which shows the growing and prominent interest from Britain’s increasingly important BRIC markets.

Recent post-2012 Olympic Games NBI research seems to back up the claim that our parks and gardens are as popular as ever. In a study where Britain’s ‘Overall Nation Brand’ and ‘Welcome’ saw significant improvements, much was also said about tourists now wanting to see ‘more than just London’. A staggering 75% of respondents across the world agreed that the Games coverage made them want to venture out and take the time to visit other parts of the country. In a separate question a significant 70% of respondents claimed that after watching the Olympics, they agreed that Britain had ‘lovely countryside’.

In an Ipsos MORI study for VisitBritain in 2013, work was done to assess the impact of Britain’s GREAT image campaign across the world. Findings indicated that the activity is helping showcase the whole of Britain. Across all of the survey cities, many respondents strongly agreed that the promotional work made them want to visit places outside of London, and to enjoy our natural scenic beauty.

Sandie Dawe, Chief Executive of VisitBritain said: “We’ve completed three big pieces of research which all indicate that our parks, gardens and natural beauty are a valuable tourism asset, admired across the world and enjoyed by our visitors.

“It’s hugely encouraging to see our gardens are as popular with the younger generation as they are with 55-plus age groups. Post-Games perceptions of Britain have shifted for the better and time spent in any of our glorious parks is something to be cherished- especially when the sun is out.”