Nature-based recreation and leisure in fenland rural ecomies - A case study approach.

DONCASTER, Simon Henry. (2006). Nature-based recreation and leisure in fenland rural ecomies - A case study approach. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

The research considers the importance of nature-based recreation and leisure as factors of economic generators within rural, fenland landscapes, and thus as contributors to rural economies. Using a case study approach, the research investigated the Humberhead Levels as a region of potential nature-based recreation and leisure demand, informed by existing, similar demand within the Fens and Somerset Levels and Moors. Through consultation of relevant literature, issues related to definitions of tourism and nature-based recreation and leisure were identified, as were factors relative to the assessment of economic contributions and landscape perceptions. Through the use of interviews and questionnaire surveys of visitors and recreation businesses, the economic contributions of visitors were identified. Day-trip visitors were identified as the predominant visitor type, at a ratio of 3:1 over staying visitors. Within this, local visitors were also found to make important use of attractions surveyed, thus making important contributions to local economies. Visitor spend however, identified as relatively low at £7.39/visitor/day, conversely identifies that staying visitors contribute around three times the spend of day-trip visitors. Over three quarters of all businesses surveyed with recreation as a secondary income source, were identified as having turnovers below £50,000, at 78.6% of businesses surveyed. Whilst low, the importance of visitor spend in maintaining business viability was identified, particularly in respect of farm-based visitor attractions. Such businesses placed great importance upon visitor spend, with the research noting that without such spend, farm viability may be questioned, with implications for long-term landscape management. The research identified a liking for open, flat, fenland landscapes, and a visitor loyalty to the regions investigated and the nature-based attractions within them. This was particularly so for wildlife attractions. The importance of such sites as catalysts to attract visitors and increase visitor spend within those regions is noted. With limited visitor numbers and low visitor spend identified, overall visitor income is limited. However, the research shows that such low demand and low spend make important contributions to local economies, through income and employment generation. It is therefore an important asset to local communities. With visitors noted as travelling considerable distances with respect to day trips, at a mean average of approximately 90 miles round-trip, a mix of attractions is noted as important by recreation businesses, with collaboration between recreation businesses identified. In conclusion, the research has led to a recommendation for the establishment of a nature-based recreation and leisure market within Humberhead Levels. With day-trip visitors identified as predominant, and the current lack of accommodation noted within the Humberhead Levels, such a visitor market in the first instance should be day-visitor orientated. With the low visitor number and low visitor spend potential identified, any visitor-related market should be established in a low-key manner. As such, a nature-based recreation and visitor market so established has less financial outlay and risk. Engendering greater local involvement and greater local control, it retains a greater proportion of the economic benefits generated within the local region. Such a visitor market could exist alongside the predominantly agricultural economy of the Humberhead Levels, contributing to overall wealth and employment potential, and thus community viability. The economic and social benefits from nature-based recreation and leisure provide improved opportunities for more a holistic and long-term landscape management approach. Within this, wildlife and the managed landscape form central components.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Thesis (Ph.D.)--Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom), 2006.
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2018 17:19
Last Modified: 10 Apr 2018 17:19
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/19572

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