New research released by the South West Coast Path suggests that the walkers using the route are contributing a great deal to the regional economy.
Walking the path costs visitors nothing, but the money they spend in cafes and similar facilities dotted along the coast has risen by 15% over the last three years, supporting nearly 10,000 jobs.
The rise is a result of a boost in visitor numbers, with locals, day-trippers and holiday-makers alike up 7% to 8.6 million in 2012.
Mark Owen, the National Trail Officer for the South West Coast Path Team said, “These figures are great news. It shows that it’s not only locals who know that you have to leave the car behind and explore on foot if you want to discover the most memorable views of our beautiful coastline.
“While walking on the Coast Path is free, the money walkers spend in nearby pubs, cafes, accommodation and with other local businesses makes public investment on the South West Coast Path National Trail a cost-effective way to help grow the region’s economy.”
This news comes as the Unlocking our Coastal Heritage project, which was launched in 2010, reaches completion. Largely funded with £2.1 million of European grant aid through the Rural Development Programme for England it has raised the profile of the South West Coast Path as a cultural corridor with a wealth of historic, artistic and cultural heritage.
As the longest of 15 National Trails in England and Wales, the South West Coast Path stretches 630 miles around the shores of England’s South West peninsular. Starting in Minehead, Somerset, it follows the coastline of Devon, Cornwall and Dorset until it reaches Poole Harbour.