31 May 2000
Rural visitors spend 8.4bn a year

By FWi staff

VISITORS to the English countryside spend about 8.4 billion a year, according to a survey by the Countryside Agency.

The survey, part of a fuller report on leisure visits in the UK, shows that although farming is suffering, rural tourism is still a money maker.

Richard Wakeford, Countryside Agency chief executive, said the report found that more than 1.2 billion day visits were made to the countryside in 1998.

“The countryside is still a very popular place where people go to enjoy themselves,” he said.

Two-thirds of people in England visited the countryside in 1998, which compares favourably with other leisure time activities and destinations, he added.

The survey also found that the average distance travelled to the countryside is 17.3 miles with 87% of visitors owning or have access to a car.

It estimates that 63% of visitors are in the ABC1 social grade, with each visitor who spent over three hours in the countryside spent an average of 15.30.