# Visitor surveys and data
# Understanding tourism measures
The number of tourist visits to an area the size of a national park is difficult to measure and not easily quantified. Moreover, there is no standard method available for assessing visitor numbers to an area, which often leads to uncertainty in the variability of the reported visitor numbers. We cannot say with certainty the number of visitors who come to the National Park. Using the available surveys and data we have, we know likely visitor volume to range somewhere between 13 million  and 26 million  per annum.
In estimating overall volume and value, national parks use a model called STEAM (Scarborough Tourism Economic Assessment Model). STEAM is a tourism economic impact modelling process, which approaches the measurement of tourism from the bottom up, through its use of local supply side data and tourism performance and visitor data collection.
The STEAM model estimates that the total number of visitor days spent (or visitors spending over 3 hours) in the Peak District National Park and influence area is around 13.43m per annum. In contrast, a study commissioned by the Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA) in 1996 'Assessment of Visitor Numbers Report’ estimated in excess of 22-26 million tourist days each year. The significant difference in volume figures is due to the methodology of each study. The latter study includes any type of visitor and any length of stay. Similarly, the visitor surveys in 2005 and 2015 survey any visitor regardless of how long they visit the Peak District. These surveys showed a significant proportion of people making short trips into the Peak District of less than three hours.
# 26 million visitors per year - assessment of visitor numbers, 1996
The most common statistic causing confusion regarding visitor volume is from a report based in 1996. The assessment was correct; however, the common quote; “second most popular National Park after Mt Fuji” was completely wrong. The two National Parks were assessed completely differently and no comparison or conclusion between the two could be substantiated.
Undertaken by Touche Ross in 1996, this report was commissioned to carry out a review of the All Parks Visitor Survey and other available data in order to reach an independent view as to the likely range of visitor numbers to the Peak District.
This report used four expansion factors (daily, annual, cordon and car occupancy) to gross up the numbers of visitors to the Peak District. These results give a range of visitor days between 21.9 and 26.3 million excluding evening visitors.
# A history of key Peak District visitor surveys and volume data
Prior to 1986/87, there were two main surveys related to both the number and profile of visitors to the Peak District. In 1963, the British Travel Authority undertook a survey of the Peak District and concluded that there were an estimated 4 million visitors to the area during the six summer months. During 1971 and 1972, roadside interviews were conducted around the Peak District. The report concluded there were 16 million visits by car to the area each year. Between 1976 and 1986, traffic counts were conducted on the major routes crossing the Peak District.
The counts show that in ten years between 1976 and 1986, there was a 20% increase in the volume of traffic entering and leaving the Peak District. On the basis of this growth, it was assumed the number of visits would have grown. Thus, a figure of 20 million visits was regularly quoted in the 1980s. From the mid-1980s onwards, the National Park Authority has undertaken one major visitor survey every decade.
Table of the main National Park Surveys
|Peak District National Park Visitor Survey 1986/87||PDNPA||PDNP||To obtain a profile of recreational users of the National Park, a profile of the places visited in the National Park and the activities and behaviour patterns of visitors in these places||This is the most comprehensive survey ever undertaken in the National Park. The surveys were conducted at the roadside and carried out on all the major routes leaving the Park (22 sites), over a nine month period commencing in June 1986 and finishing April 1987. A total of 14,856 drivers of vehicles were stopped and interviewed.||18.5 million day visits|
|All Parks Visitor Survey 1994||Countryside Commission||PDNP and English National Parks||Designed to produce consistent data on the volume and value of recreation and tourism across the national parks.||Information was collected via roadside surveys and recreation site surveys by means of: · 53,000 face-to-face interviews · 16,000 self-completion questionaires’ (45% response rate) · There were 5 roadside and 12 recreation survey site points in the Peak District.||12.4 million visitor days|
|Assessment of visitor numbers 1996||Touche Ross||PDNP||Build on the data from the APVS (1994). Review AVPS and other available data to reach an independent view of the likely range of visitor numbers in the Peak District Nationla Park.||A collection of available data (mainly the APVS) grossed up using expansion factors to produce the 22 million visitors estimate.||22-26 million visitor days|
|Peak District National Park Visitor Survey 1998||PDNP & DDC||PDNP (excluding the northern moorland expanses and peripheral towns such as Buxton and Leek)||The study built on the structure of a parallel study for the Objective 5b area of the Peak District.||A total of 4,495 interviews with visitors and residents to and within the Peak District National Park were carried out between May and November 1998. Visitors were shown a map of the Peak District covering the overall greater Peak District. This map was referred to throughout the interview process with virtually all questions based on the tourist behavior across the entire greater Peak District. No questions were specifically about the area defined as the Peak District National Park.||No estimate (Volume Data)|
|Peak District National Park Visitor Survey 2005||PDNPA||PDNP||This survey aimed to provide the up-to-date information required for effective visitor management.||30,000 people interviewed - Indicated levels of spend per head by different classes of visitors. Survey was not constructed to produce estimates of overall visit volume but to provide data for National Park management.||No estimate (Volume Data)|
|England Leisure Visit Survey 2005||Government – Defra, Natural England||National + All national parks||The aims were to measure the extent of participation in Leisure Visits by the adult population (16+) and estimate the total number of leisure visits and their economic value.||The latest data that was produced using a consistent methodology for all the national parks (on visit volume). It indicated, like the only other survey undertaken to a broadly common methodology across all the national parks (APVS 1994), that the Peak District and the Lake District were the most visited National Parks in the country, at the time.||10.1 million leisure visits|
|Peak District National Park Visitor Survey 2014/15||PDNPA||PDNP||The aim of the research was to engage with a representative sample of visitors via interviews in three main landscape character areas in the Peak District National Park(PDNP).||This consisted of quantitative, face-to-face surveys with people who have visited the National Park, conducted by (PDNPA) staff at various locations across the National Park on five different dates between May 2014 and August 2014 and 19 dates between March 2015 – July 2015.||No estimate (Volume Data)|
|STEAM 2009-2018||PDNPA||PDNP||Estimates the total tourist numbers as well as the economic impact and employment supported by tourism.||It is used by many national parks, East Midlands Tourism, the Peak District and Derbyshire Destination Management Partnership and some of our constituent tourism authorities and provides data at a district level and for the Peak District. Day visitors are regarded as those day visiting whose stay is three hours or more for a non-routine purpose originating outside the local area, whether from home or from a non-resident accommodation outside the object area.||13.43 million Tourist Days|
# Data & Information
Visitor surveys provide information required for effective visitor management and complement data in most areas of National Park Authority work. Visitor surveys remain the best method for quantifying behaviours and perceptions of visitors to the National Park. They focus on the impact and behaviour of visitors, answering key questions such as:
- identifying the profile and origin of visitors
- examining their behaviour once at the destination
- evaluating the effectiveness of marketing activities
- assessing the quality of service and levels of visitor satisfaction
- testing reaction to new or proposed developments, services or promotional materials.
# How are they collected?
The methodology can vary in many ways, but it often comes down to the following;
- What you are trying to find out
- The context in which you are operating
- The resources available
Larger visitor surveys may need to take account of surveys at peak, off-peak and shoulder seasons, together with annual monitoring data. This spread helps to identify variations in visits and visitor type. The main types of visitor surveys are as follows:
- Face-to-face surveys are useful to obtain high response rates and obtain representative samples and probe responses, but they are relatively expensive. Self- completion questionnaires are cheaper, but more difficult to introduce quotas.
- Site surveys can be useful in finding the volume of visits to a particular site, who your visitors are, what they are doing, their motivation, satisfaction and suggestions for improvements, which are useful for planning and management. If a consistent set of questions is asked, trends could be identified over time.
- Household and telephone surveys can be useful in finding the overall volume and value of visits to the national parks, as the sampling universe can be identified and a representative, robust sampling regime can be taken. They can also identify non-users, visitors who visit the Park for leisure but do not stop, and barriers to use.
- Diary surveys can be a useful way of identifying spend.
- Roadside surveys can be useful to identify the volume and composition of the traffic leaving the Park, travel patterns, the nature of journeys and the volume of visits, including non-stopping visits.
# What are the limitations?
Surveys are the best method of understanding visitor behaviour across multiple variables such as activity type, spend and visitor profile etc. However, surveys are insufficient in themselves and they are relatively expensive. They should be complemented by knowledge of the accommodation stock, occupancy levels, visits to attractions and traffic and pedestrian monitoring.
If the survey is to be a sample survey, which is generally the case in practice, it should be remembered that, whatever method is selected, the results will be an estimate. Therefore, the degree of the inaccuracy of the estimate will depend mainly upon:
- The size of the sample
- The accuracy of the sample frame
- The extent to which the information can be cross-referenced.
For visitor surveys to be representative, the sample frame must reflect as closely as possible the total visitor universe. As visitors to a large area like a National Park are moving about in a great variety of unpredictable ways, there is no flawless, reliable method to identify the total visitor universe to the National Park. For the last few decades, the best way to estimate the visitor universe was to use the cordon roadside method. The works on the definition that most (not all) visitors will cross the National Park boundary, as over 80% of visitors arrive by vehicle, this is the most efficient way to capture the maximum number of visitors. Of course, this doesn’t account for:
- Visitors staying in the National Park who may not cross the cordon on all the days of their stay
- Visitors who cross the cordon multiple times in one day, if visiting multiple areas of the National Park
- Visits by residents
- Peripheral users of the Park not arriving by motor vehicle.
Due to these limitations, and the expense of roadside surveys, this methodology has not been repeated for the last few visitor surveys. Although an under-estimate, STEAM data is now used to provide Volume Trend Figures for the Peak District supplemented by visitor surveys to show visitor impact, behaviour, profile etc.
# Definitions of terms
TOURISM the generic term to cover both demand and supply elements of the activities of persons identified as visitors
VISITORS the common denominator that covers all the forms of tourism defined above for the same range of purposes :
LEISURE DAY VISITORS spending less than 3 hours away from home but outside their usual environment, for general leisure, recreational or social purposes. Not included in the published volume and value of tourism statistics in England, these short stay leisure day visitors contribute directly to the local visitor economy and should also be formally recognized in destination management decisions .
TOURIST DAY VISITORS are regarded as those day visiting whose stay is three hours or more for a non-routine purpose originating outside the local area, whether from home or from a non-resident accommodation outside the object area .
DAY VISITOR a visitor who has not stayed away from home the night before and/or the night after their visit regardless of length of stay in hours
STAYING VISITOR a visitor who stays for at least one night in the Peak District National Park
TOURIST NUMBERS the estimated number of individual visits to the area
VISITOR DAYS the estimated number of days spent within the area by the different visitor types defined by STEAM. Visitor days are calculated by multiplying the staying visitors by average length of stay and adding the day visitors.
AVERAGE LENGTH OF STAY visitor days divided by visitor numbers
SERVICED ACCOMMODATION hotel-like amenities such as room service and house keeping
NON-SERVICED ACCOMODATION such as camping, self-catering youth hostels, holiday centres
SFR staying with friends or relatives
BED STOCK number of bed spaces
DIRECT REVENUE denotes visitor expenditure
INDIRECT REVENUE denotes secondary expenditure from direct items (e.g. as hotels purchase food and drinks from local suppliers and use the services of local laundries, builders, banks, utility companies, etc.). Not all these effects will arise in the local area since some such expenditure will go to suppliers elsewhere in the region or nationally
FTE denotes full-time equivalent jobs
HIGH PEAK/SEASON from April through to October
LOW PEAK/SEASON from November through to March
PEAK VISITOR TIME from 10am to 4pm
WIDER INFLUENCE AREA set at the Peak District National Park landscape character area