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An insight into New Forest visitors

Mark Holroyd, the New Forest National Park Authority’s transport & tourism manager tells us some of the highlights from our 2013 visitor survey.

In summer 2013, we carried out a survey of 600 visitors to the National Park to find out more about their travel behaviour and spending habits. We use this information to plan how best to persuade people to travel car-free, to promote sustainable travel opportunities to visitors such as the New Forest Tour, and to monitor our progress.

Car-free travel is not the only the best way to see the New Forest, but it also promotes active family lifestyles and helps reduce car journeys, congestion and pollution, which threaten many of the special qualities of the National Park.

The survey has been funded as part of the £3.8 million Local Sustainable Transport Fund from the Department for Transport. The fund is shared between the New Forest and South Downs National Parks with the aim of encouraging 370,000 visitors to switch to car-free travel at each park by March 2015.

Walking is one of the most popular ways to get around the New Forest National Park

Who visits the New Forest National Park?

74% of the respondents that gave their postcode lived in London, South East or the South West of England. The National Park is favoured by established families, commuter village residents, retirees, comfortable internet users that can be reliant on their cars to get around. 83% are repeat visitors, which offers us a real chance to engage with existing visitors and change the way they visit next time.

How do they get here?

The car was by far the main form of transport to get to the area at 78%. This is actually a drop from previous years. In 2005, 96% of visitors used their car to access the National Park and in 2011 it was 82%.

How do they get around the park?

The main mode of transport for getting around the park is still the car at 52%. But a lot of visitors chose to walk (18%), cycle (13%) or get the New Forest Tour (5%). The National Park Authority and its partners are working hard to provide a real choice for visitors who want to leave their car at home or at their accommodation, for example, through the New Forest Tour and Beach Bus, as well as working to improve the experience for family cyclists.

The Beach Bus attracted nearly 6,000 passenger journeys in its first summer season in 2013

How much do they spend?

The average spend per person is £42.84.

How enjoyable to visitors find their experience?

97% of visitors rate their level of enjoyment as Very High or High and none of the respondents rated their level of enjoyment as Poor or Very Poor. Cyclists, Walkers (67%) and those that travel around the area by Car (70%) rated their level of enjoyment the highest based on those that rated their level of enjoyment as Very High. Cyclists are enjoying themselves the most (77%).

We asked visitors why they come to the New Forest National Park, 90% of respondent’s selected ‘Tranquil scenic environment’ as one of the factors that contributed to their enjoyment. 70% selected ‘Good access to the countryside’ with ‘Plenty of things to do’ (59%) and ‘Local Heritage’ (52%) being the next most frequently chosen factors.

If you would like to download a copy of our latest visitor survey go to

This entry was posted by Mark Holroyd on Monday 17/03/2014


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