Understanding the role of forests and woodlands in the tourism sector
Forests and woodlands offer many leisure opportunities for visitors (picture courtesy of the Forestry Commission)
Although forests and woodlands are an attraction for many visitors and tourists, there has been little research into how tourism businesses value and use forests and woodlands. We were commissioned by Forest Research, the research arm of the Forestry Commission, to address such questions through a programme of primary research. The project worked with tourism providers in three case study areas in England (Suffolk Coasts and Heaths), Scotland (The Great Glen) and Wales (Dyfi Valley) during 2003. We recruited and ran focus groups in each area. These covered a range of topics, including how tourism providers perceive and use forests and woodlands and what the value of them is to their businesses. Our work found that enterprises identified forests and woodlands as being valuable in terms of motivating people to take visits, extending the length of time people stay in the area and extending the length of the tourist season. Forests and woodlands were also seen to have an important role in determining the identity of local tourism destinations.