Coastal and marine environments afford a huge range of opportunities for recreational activities; but our seas are also a major economic resource, supporting an array of industries and communities nationwide. Balancing the competing demands of nature, economic development and tourism is complex, and a key function of the Marine Planning system introduced by the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010.
Good planning needs good data – and in 2014, no coherent national-scale information existed on who was using Scotland’s coastline for tourism and recreation; where they were going; what they were doing when they got there; or, how much their activities were worth to the economy. We were commissioned by the Scottish Government to deliver a major research project to fill this significant knowledge gap.
Using an innovative web-based survey approach, we collected spatial, social and economic data on the recreational activities people value around the Scottish coast. We then created a series of remarkable maps showing which areas are most important, accompanied by detailed analysis of behaviours, patterns of seasonality and expenditure. The results provided new insights into people’s use of the coast, and showed that spending during recreation and tourism trips to the Scottish coastline contributes up to £3.7bn annually to the Scottish economy.
The Scottish Government used our analysis to inform marine planning as well as to guide future public and private investment.
For more on this project watch this webcast
Services employed: Strategic Planning & Assessment