Record number of passengers on New Forest Tour

New forest tour blue route at milford on sea

Published Thursday 10 October 2013

The New Forest Tour enjoyed its best season yet with a record number of passenger journeys – helping take cars off the road and providing a boost to local businesses.

Final figures for the seven day summer service showed a total of 40,653 passenger journeys on the three open-top routes – up 32% on last year.

The Tour’s success was helped by the good weather and the introduction of the new blue route in the south west of the New Forest National Park. Along with the green and red routes, it means the entire National Park is covered by the hop on hop off service which contributed an estimated £660,000 this year to the local economy

Run by Go South Coast in partnership with the New Forest National Park Authority, the Tour has also helped take cars off the road, saving an estimated 223,000 private car miles this year.

Julian Johnson, chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘We’re very pleased with the growing success of the New Forest Tour. Passengers have told us how they’ve enjoyed the experience and how much more of the National Park’s majestic landscapes they can see from the top deck.

The Tour has also helped protect the special qualities of the National Park by reducing the number of cars on the road. We’ve also found that the Tour has been of great benefit to local residents who have used the three routes for standard bus journeys.’

Andrew Wickham, managing director of operator Go South Coast, said: ‘The Tour has had a very good summer. The largely warm and dry weather has helped, as has the new blue route which offers such stunning views of the coast and countryside. We hope that next year will be as successful.’

The New Forest Tour is a key part of the National Park Authority’s two year drive to encourage 370,000 people to get out of their cars and use greener transport by the end of March 2015. It is supported in part by a £3.8m sustainable transport fund from the Department of Transport, shared with the South Downs National Park.

Local businesses have also welcomed the success of the Tour.

Chris Tabb, owner of Burley Fudge which is on the red and blue route, said: ‘The New Forest Tour bus is by far the best thing to have happened for tourism in the New Forest and Burley, in particular the new blue route which covers the coast and a number of holiday sites. I even took a day out myself and covered all three routes in one day. It was great value, particularly with the added bonus of the Brand New Forest card to make it into a great day out.'

Rosie Kennar, chairman of Hoburne Holiday Parks, said: ‘Being on the new blue route has been great for both our guests and us as a company. The buses come into both Hoburne Bashley, just inside the New Forest National Park, and Hoburne Naish in New Milton. It’s been fantastic for our guests looking to explore the area without having to use their cars, but we have also had great feedback from local families who have seen the Parks, and all we have to offer, possibly for the first time.'

To encourage more people to leave their cars at home, a new meet and greet service was also launched by the National Park Authority this summer. Based at Brockenhurst train station, the New Forest Travel Concierges ran a pedal powered mobile unit full of information on car-free experiences such as the Tour, Beach Bus, trains, Twizy electric cars and cycling.

In their six week run over the summer, the travel concierges helped over 2,000 people explore the beauty of the National Park car-free.

Both the Travel Concierges and the New Forest Tour will return next year.

Find out more at www.thenewforesttour.info and www.facebook.com/newforesttour

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Notes to picture editors:

Please find attached a photo of a blue route New Forest Tour at Milford on Sea, with the Solent and the Isle of Wight in the background.

Notes to editors:

In 2012 the New Forest Tour won a ‘Highly Commended’ award in the Best Responsible Transport category at the Virgin Holiday Responsible Tourism Awards.

The New Forest Tour follows three routes known as red, green and blue.

■ Green Route: serving Lymington, Beaulieu, Exbury Gardens, Lyndhurst and Brockenhurst

■ Red Route: serving Burley, Ringwood, Fordingbridge, Sandy Balls, Ashurst and Lyndhurst

■ Blue Route: serving Brockenhurst, Lymington, Milford-on-sea, Barton-on-sea, New Milton, Bashley, Thorney Hill and Burley.

New Forest Tour customers can enjoy free bus travel to and from Salisbury, Southampton, Bournemouth and Hythe on selected scheduled services. Simply buy your New Forest Tour ticket on scheduled bus services leaving these locations.

About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect - Enjoy - Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

•    Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect.

•    Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:

•    Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk to find out more.

Media Contacts:

Sion Donovan, Communications Officer, New Forest National Park Authority Tel: 01590 646639 Email: sion.donovan@newforestnpa.gov.uk

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