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Cycle tourism boosts economy

Cyclist reading map in seaside harbour

The National Cycle Network supports over 15,000 jobs

Cyclist on country lane with thatched cottage in background

The National Cycle Network directly contributes £650m to the economy each year

18 August 2015

Leisure and tourism cycling on the National Cycle Network supports over 15,000 jobs and directly contributes £650m to the economy each year.*

People cycling on the National Cycle Network for leisure and tourism bring over £650 million to the UK economy each year.

Our research looked at the average amount spent by people on day trips and cycling holidays and found that they both bring significant money to local economies around the country.

We conservatively estimate that people who use the Network for holidays and day trips spend an average of £7 a day, although this figure is likely to be even higher for people who take cycling holidays.

The Network, which celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year, was also found to directly support 15,262 full time equivalent jobs across the services industry, particularly in the food and drink sector where it supports over 10,000 jobs.

The National Cycle Network now stretches to all four corners of the UK and covers over 14,000 miles. The research suggests that popular parts of the Network make a substantial economic impact to local communities and are also important on a national scale.

The Diglis Hotel in Worcester is an example of a business that has benefited as a result of the National Cycle Network, in particular after Sustrans worked with Worcester City and Worcestershire County Councils to create a riverside loop, with a new bridge as the centrepiece.

Steve Pirone the General Manager of the Diglis House Hotel in Worcester, said:

“The riverside is a very important part of the tourism industry in Worcester but until the bridge was built there was no way of getting from one side to the other.

“As a result of the bridge being built and the route being part of the National Cycle Network, we have experienced a real benefit and I’m sure other businesses near the route have seen an increase in business too.

“There’s been at least a 20% increase in our bar and restaurant sales and we also think the new route will increase our hotel figures in the future, as it brings more walkers and cyclists to the area.”

Since the National Cycle Network was first developed, usage has increased year-on-year, with people using it for all kinds of reasons, like using it to get to work and school, as well as going on day trips and holidays.

The economic benefits of quality walking and cycling routes are significant, both from tourism but also day to day use, by reducing congestion, pollution and by enabling people to improve their health.

The National Cycle Network has identified the potential for changing people’s everyday travel.

If as a society, we really want more people to get fitter and healthier by walking and cycling, then we need to make it more appealing. A big part of that is making roads safer. To enable this to happen, the government must provide consistent long-term funding for cycling and walking to be at least 5% of transport spending, and a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy that contains a long-term vision and targets, in the same way that already exists for our roads and railways.

Find out more about the services we can offer local authorities to help deliver local health and economic benefits

*The survey data on the spending behaviour of leisure and tourist cyclists was collected from 22 sites on the National Cycle Network across the UK. They took place on each site for four days, running from 7am to 7pm where over 2,500 people were surveyed. In partnership with the University of Central Lancashire, Sustrans developed a model that uses the data from these surveys to estimate daily spend per head for leisure and tourist cyclists (£7) and the impact of this on employment (supporting over 15,000 full time equivalent jobs). Combining these outputs with our estimate of the annual usage of the Network allows us to estimate the impact of leisure and tourist cyclists on the UK economy.