We introduced conservation holidays to the Suffolk coast, as part of a programme to increase the economic and conservation benefits in this rural area through positive eco-tourism. We aimed to:
Increase visitor numbers and spend in rural areas;
Gain direct positive contribution to the work of local conservation organisations;
Establish deeper engagement with the area by visitors.
We partnered with a regional company who worked with AONB Partnership members to establish three holidays. Considerable marketing was done nationally and good contacts made with travel journalists. Sufficient numbers of press and public attended the three holidays that were delivered in 2016.
What was done
We sought and developed a partnership with a regional small conservation holiday business and were able to encourage them to develop and set up pilot holidays on the Suffolk Coast, supporting financially with grant aid from the Coastal Communities Fund and via AONB team support to encourage, provide local knowledge, and encourage partnership development with coastal organisations, accommodation agencies and communities. Three holidays were run in the pilot year 2016, and subsequently Wild Days Conservation have established further holidays on the Suffolk coast.
The holidays were designed to support the rural economy through sustainable tourism and make a positive contribution to the environment. The report notes that: “Holidaymakers felt that the holidays provided good value for money, one respondent saying that they regularly undertake walking holidays which provide similar facilities and are about the same price.”
Outputs Achieved from Conservation Holidays:
- 91 out of season bed nights
- £9,517 into the local economy out of season
- 8 press articles in local and national press and a variety of social media outputs
- 3 temporary jobs created
- 6 leaders trained
- 4 hectares of land managed
- 15 species monitored
- Over 80 people engaged through events training hols and landowners.
The project found that demand is growing to develop positive eco-tourism in Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB in partnership with social enterprise Wild Days Conservation. The model, tested in 2016, has potential for replication and scaling in other rural areas in the UK.
The report, produced by AKTA Partnership and released in Jan 2017, set out to review the current state of the UK Conservation Holidays market and what the future may look like. It includes a commentary on the potential future development and gains for protected areas and the local economy based on the opinions of those close to the market.
Summary of UK Conservation Holidays Report (pdf)
Invasive Species Survey at RSPB Minsmere
2016 Bird Survey at Dunwich Heath
Wild Days Conservation Holiday Group (Small Mammal Survey) - Suffolk
Coast & Heath National Landscape