TOURISTS SPENT more than £10bn in a 12 month period while visiting the English countryside, according to a survey by the government‘s countryside advisers.

The Countryside Agency has worked out that in 2002/3, people made a billion day trips to the countryside and spent an average of £8.60/day.

Pam Warhurst, chairman of the agency, said day trips played a particularly vital role in rural communities.

“The countryside is part of our national heritage – it remains a popular destination, where people can go to enjoy themselves, with a simple walk, a good pub lunch, some shopping in country towns or simply to sit and enjoy the view.

“It‘s particularly pleasing to see that walking, with all its benefits for the nation‘s health, was more popular with the British than going out to shop.”

Ms Warhurst said a lot of emphasis was being put on encouraging people to get more active and the countryside had something to offer everyone.

People could choose a long distance trail, an historic house and gardens, shopping at a farmers‘ market or a bite to eat and drink, she said.