Trends in estimated visitor numbers to the Grand Western Canal Country Park are based on data collected by automatic vehicle counters installed in the Canal’s two main car parks at the Canal Basin in Tiverton and Tiverton Road Bridge, near Halberton.
The annual totals for vehicles using these car parks have recently been supplied by DCC’s Highway data technician and reveal a continued increase in vehicle numbers at both car parks over the period between August 2015 and July 2016. The figures below show projected visitor numbers arriving at the two car parks based on an average of two occupants per vehicle.
Taking this 6% increase in cars arriving at these two car parks into account, our estimate for total annual visitor numbers to the Country Park now stands at 308,000.
This upward trend in visitor numbers matches the experience and feedback of staff and stakeholders, who agree the Canal is much better used in recent years. High standards of maintenance, as indicated by the retention of the Green Flag Award again this year, and better promotion (new website and visitor guide) have combined to encourage more visitors. Consistently good reviews on Tripadvisor have also helped.
A steady increase in visitor numbers is great news for the businesses which operate on the canal, and for the many pubs, shops, accommodation providers and other local attractions that also benefit from custom from canal visitors. This prominent role in the local tourist economy is a key strength of the Canal and one which helps to underpin its continued funding by DCC and MDDC.
The total annual visitors figure is derived by taking the original estimate we made in 2009 for visitors who didn’t arrive by car at either of these two car parks (there are many other smaller car parks, many visitors arrive by cycle or coach and many thousands live within a short walk) and applying a more conservative increase of half of the annual increase demonstrated at the two main car parks, each year. This is then added to the combined figure for the two car parks to provide an overall estimate for the year.
Although the total figure for the year may be an under-estimate or over-estimate (depending on the accuracy of our original estimate for visitors not arriving at the two main car parks by car), the year on year trends should be fairly accurate.