New research reveals that a record 8.7 million visitors came to the National Forest in 2017. As the total number of trees planted in the National Forest since the early 1990s now stands at 8.7 million, that’s effectively one tree per visitor.
Visitor numbers have increased by 6.4% on the previous year, exceeding the average increase nationally, while the value of tourism to the Forest has also increased to £428m, sustaining more than 5,000 jobs for the first time.
John Everitt, Chief Executive, National Forest Company, said: “This is great news for the tourism industry within the National Forest. Tourism is the fastest-growing sector for the UK, and here in the heart of the country we are demonstrating how the creation of the National Forest is growing the economy as well as improving the environment and people’s wellbeing. Where better to experience all the benefits of getting outdoors and being amongst trees and woodlands, than in a Forest that is easily accessible to 10 million people in our Midlands conurbations.”
The figures reported today cover the first year of the National Forest’s ten-year Tourism Growth Plan, which was launched in 2017 and builds on 27 years of successful partnership working, to strengthen and grow sustainable tourism in the National Forest. The figures demonstrate excellent progress towards the Plan’s goal of increasing spend and jobs by 15%.
The first expression of this ambition was the inaugural Timber festival in the National Forest, held in July this year. Over 4,000 people attended the three day camping festival, which was held amongst woodlands just outside Ashby de la Zouch and celebrated the transformative impact of trees and forests through the story of the National Forest.
Local craft ale and street food providers added to a lively programme of music, arts, talks and woodland activities, and local accommodation providers enjoyed extra business where festival-goers chose not to camp.
Timber gained four star reviews in The Guardian and five star Facebook reviews, and is nominated for several awards in its first year. Tickets are already on sale for next year’s festival at www.timberfestival.org.uk
Everitt added: “This is a great start to our ambition to grow tourism and develop investment opportunities for green growth in the Forest. Through events such as Timber festival, we’re showing how businesses can benefit from being within the National Forest, one of the UK’s most accessible woodland destinations.”