How can we connect communitiesand visitors along the Wales Coast Path?A summary of the Problem Pow Wows facilitated inSwansea and Bangor plus six telephone interviews.7th February Swansea & 8th February Bangor
T e e V tn h ln e sp ot b: h G o a c ae g is u p r d y io l e
Summary2 Problem Pow Wows6 telephone interviews32 people engaged in total178 ‘raw’ problems9 themes54 insights.
1. Facilities for all2. Opportunities for business3. Community engagement4. Accessible information5. Infrastructure6. Funding and Policy Making7. Making plans8. Marketing, communications and branding9. Geography and environment
We asked.“What are the barriers to morepeople using the Wales CoastPath?”
1. Facilities for allKey problems associated with providingsuitable facilities along the coast paththat meet the needs of all.
# 1. Convenient conveniencesHow do we provide sufficient refreshment andtoilet facilities along the path to ensure people’scomfort is not compromised?People need to carefully plan their trips particularlywhen having to consider others such as children andthe elderly. Having appropriate facilities availablemakes all the difference to the experience.
# 2. All weather picnicsHow do we provide picnic facilities for people nomatter how adverse the weather is?When there are no picnic facilities available: at bestpeople make do by using their car or huddling underan umbrella; at worst they leave and don’t comeback.
# 3. I can’t parkHow do we make it more convenient for people topark?Being able to park close to the Coast Path is reallyimportant for people when trying to make their tripas easy and enjoyable as possible.
# 4. Pounds for parkingHow do we deliver a consistent car park coststrategy along the Wales Coast Path?The cost of parking ranges from 50p to £3.50 perhour. In more expensive areas people park outsideof the car park to avoid payment costs which cancause congestion.
# 5. Working 9 to 5How do we align facility opening times with theseasons?In some areas along the Wales Coast Path toiletsand cafes are closed ‘out of hours’ in high season,even though plenty of people are still enjoying thepath in the evening.
# 6. Fragmented experienceHow do we better join up the experience(s) thatcustomers have across all their interactions alongthe Wales Coast Path?Customers’ best experiences are the result of alltouchpoints they encounter and reflect upon (peoplethey meet, information they are presented with,physical kit they use), working together seamlessly.
# 7. Attainable accommodationHow do customers obtain suitable accommodationin areas where access is limited or the availableaccommodation is simply unknown? Wales.gov.uk (http://bit.ly/ztoki6)Hoteliers and bed and breakfasts in these areas willsee their potential income hit, missing out on theircut of the 9.6 million overnight visitors to Wales,spending nearly £1.8 billion, during 2010.
2. Opportunities for businessKey problems associated with makingthe case for starting, growing andsustaining businesses along the WalesCoast Path, 365 days a year.
# 1. What’s in it for me?How can we make a strong case for Welshbusinesses to invest in themselves in order to takeadvantage of the Coast Path?For any business to either startup and / or growthere needs to be compelling evidence of ROI fromthe Coast Path.
# 2. Finding growth opportunitiesHow can we stimulate local business growth off theback of genuine problems that need solving?In Q4 of 2011, the travel & tourism sector in the UKfaced a 56 per cent rise in critical financial problemscompared to Q4 2010.Begbies Traynor’s Red Flag Alert (http://bit.ly/z744TE)
# 3. What potential?How can businesses better understand the numberof potential people that could visit them?Wales attracted 890,000 international visitorsspending £333 million during 2010 but thisinformation is either not widely understood orcontextualised for local businesses to exploit.Tourism in Wales, Welsh Government (http://bit.ly/ztoki6)
# 4. The season is too shortHow can the Wales Coast Path become anattractive destination outside of the main season?Currently the tourist season runs from March toOctober with a 3 month peak in the middle. Thiscompromises the opportunity to maximise incomethroughout the year from a prime Welsh asset.
# 5. Sustaining a non-peak businessHow do we create, develop and sustain businessesthat remain profitable throughout the year?Many of the current businesses can’t make a year-long living solely from visitors to the path.
# 6. Season-proof activitiesHow can we develop activities and reasons forpeople to use the path outside of the normalseason?People need a variety of compelling reasons to visitthe path no matter the time of year.
3. Community engagementKey problems associated with engaginglocal communities and gaining buy-in forthe Wales Coast Path.
# 1. The path is just for touristsHow can more be done for local communities tosupport and use the path?For the Wales Coast Path to be sustainablethroughout the year, local communities need to feelconnected to it.
# 2. Just for grown upsHow can we engage and empower children to use, take moreinterest in and become proud of the Wales Coast Path?Evidence has shown that support in the earliest years of a child’slife is the most effective way of improving life chances, breakingthe cycles that can exist for some of our most disadvantaged andvulnerable children, and providing a chance to grow, succeed andachieve.Youth Engagement and Employment Action Plan 2011 – 2015, WelshGovernment (http://bit.ly/ADgvtc)
# 3. Walking is boring, right?How could disinterested people, both local andtourists, be encouraged to walk the path?Some people think walking is simply boring andwould prefer to use their time differently.
# 4. Obesity time-bombHow could more people take more interest in theirhealth through walking?57% of Welsh adults, 22% of 13-year-old boys and16% of girls are classed as either overweight orobese. By the year 2019, 85% of adults and childrenin Wales will be obese.Wales Online (http://bit.ly/2xyKyj)
# 5. Big message in a small pondHow can communications make as big an impact ata local level as has happened successfully at aninternational level? Lonely Planet (http://bit.ly/tKiNBo)The Lonely Planet voted the Wales Coast Path asthe greatest region on earth in the best-in-travel2012 guide. What might the equivalent messagingbe for locals?
4. Accessible informationKey problems associated withinformation and digital access on theWales Coast Path.
# 1. No signal bluesHow do we ensure that app and internet usershave 100% broadband, WiFi and 3G coverage on alllocations on and off the path? Mobithinking.com (http://bit.ly/a2f9uO)People rely heavily on their mobile for accessinginformation. There are now 1.2 billion mobile Webusers worldwide and one in seven web searches aremobile.
# 2. Is there an app for that?How can Apps improve the Wales Coast Pathexperience? Mobithinking.com (http://bit.ly/a2f9uO)For many people apps are a way of life. Over300,000 mobile apps have been developed in thelast three years. Apple alone are close to having had25bn apps downloaded.
# 3. Technologies working togetherHow can we get a multitude of existing andemerging technologies along the path to workseamlessly together?Users of the path want a joined up experience andthis will be hindered accessing and using differenttechnologies along the path.
# 4. No hidden surprisesHow do we provide accessible information to helppeople to plan their walks based on their needs,abilities and expectations?People like to plan with confidence therefore theirexplicit requirements need to be catered for.
# 5. Accurate local dataHow do we engage locals to help upgrade andupdate data about the Wales Coast Path?Local people know specific facts about the area theylive in (e.g. local history, attractions, amenities) thatare not widely known about or, if on a database,may be out of date.
# 6. Information for allHow do we smartly display and communicate informationfor a multitude of audiences and needs in a minimalamount of space? Wales.gov.uk (http://bit.ly/ztoki6)Wales attracted 890,000 international visitors spending £333million during 2010. Different language is one example ofmultiple information needs but, for example, there isn’tenough space on signs to convey everything to everyone.
# 7. Information deficitHow do we ensure that people have all theinformation they need to make their decisions thatmight lead to choosing to visit the Coast Path?A gap in information could make the differencebetween visitors choosing one area over another,resulting in a negative economic impact.
# 8. From road to pathHow do we ensure that signage from roads topaths contain relevant information concerningaccess?People travel to the Wales Coast Path via variousmodes of transport and need clear signage to knowif access is suitable for them.
# 9. 100% signageHow do we ensure that there is a complete signagenetwork that successfully covers all 870 miles ofthe Wales Coast Path?If the signage is poor and inconsistent, people areless likely find new areas to explore which impactslocal businesses as well as the overall success if thepath.
5. InfrastructureKey problems associated with travel andaccommodation infrastructure along theWales Coast Path.
# 1. Quality of access pathsHow can we ensure that there is a good qualitynetwork of access roads and car parks for thosetraveling to the Coastal Path by car?If people can’t get to the Coast Path easily they willnot use it.
# 2. Victim of our own successHow can we future-proof the Wales Coast Path toensure that as success scales, so too does itscapacity without undermining the experience?Success will mean more visitors which in turn means:busier paths; more litter; dog mess; accidents; moreof a strain on local facilities such as toilets and cafes.And ultimately erosion of the path itself.
# 3. Out of reachHow can we provide a joined-up public transportsystem across the Wales Coast Path?Some people do not have access to a car andtherefore will need to reply on public transport tovisit destinations along the path.
# 4. Consistent, lower costsHow can we provide affordable transport andaccommodation to meet the budget needs ofeveryone?Cost will become a barrier to people visiting theCoast Path if it’s seen as too expensive.
# 5. Walkers and cyclistsHow can walkers and cyclists use the path withoutfrustrating each other?Experiences for walkers can be affected by cyclistsand likewise cyclists can be put off if routes arecongested.
# 6. Footpath furnitureHow does footpath furniture, such as rest seats andgateways, get maintained? Ramblers Cymru (http://bit.ly/y9eT5s)Deteriorating or substandard furniture could cause accidentsand affect health and safety of users. Examples recordedinclude missing or broken stiles and gates, damaged bridges,missing or broken signposts or waymarkers.
# 7. Relevant accessHow can the relevant access points to the path beclearer for people with access needs? Welsh Government (http://bit.ly/xhsiQy)As stated, “some sections of path will be suitable forpeople with disabilities, families with prams/buggies,those on horse back and cyclists.” But people needto know where.
# 8. One size fits all?How does the Coast Path accommodate amultitude of user needs and requirements: do weknow what they are?Without a clear understanding of all those who willuse the path, solutions could be developed thatdon’t match the needs of the users.
6. Funding and Policy MakingKey problems associated with policymaking and funding of the Coast Path
# 1. Funding time-bombHow can partnerships be developed and nurturedto source and secure funds for the long termmaintenance and development of the path? Welsh Government (http://bit.ly/yosGgk)When the £3.9million has been spent on completingthe Coast Path in 2012, a further 100,000visitors/users are expected which will create anongoing need for further maintenance funds.
# 2. NIMBY to YIMBYHow do the “not in my back yard” group becomethe “yes, in my back yard”? Pembrokeshire Coast (http://bit.ly/yPP3VM)Funding requirements are reduced if localcommunities take an active participatory role intaking care of the path and local area.
# 3. Conflicting policiesHow do 16 different local authorities and 2 nationalparks coordinate and deliver on different policyobjectives?Different priorities (e.g. coastal flooding and ruraland industrial issues) could lead to inconsistenciesfor funding schemes.
# 4. Investment time and moneyHow does investment in path maintenance lead tomaximised revenue generation? Ramblers (http://bit.ly/AB64Ph)In South West Wales the 40 year old Pembrokeshire CoastNational Trail has been shown to create £52 for every £1spent on maintenance. A long term sustainability model forthe Wales Coast Path is required to enable positivepolicymaking and development. (CHANGE)
7. Making plansKey problems associated planning a tripto the Wales Coast Path
# 1. Customised walksHow can people plan walks based on ability,difficulty, length and time to complete?Easy planning and knowing how long a walk will take,with an idea of difficulty, could increase daily andrepeat usage.
# 2. Walking the dogHow can dog walkers and their families best usethe path when dogs are banned from the beachesfrom May to September? BBC News (http://bbc.in/zfUduA)Alienating locals and visitors could negatively impactthe economy e.g. “I wont be holidaying in Walesanymore because of the dog ban on beaches.”
# 3. Coastal Path NewbiesHow can new walkers be confident they have allthe geographical information to complete theirchosen route?Making the Wales Coast Path a preferred choice forthose going on a walking holiday or day trip for thefirst time will tap a new market and ‘repeatbusiness’.
8. Marketing, communications andbrandingKey problems associated withcommunicating the right messagesthrough the right channels.
# 1. Not just a pathHow does the path enable other activities fordifferent demographics such as photography,writing, water sports and bird watching?Walking will not always be the main interest ofpotential users, so leading with other activities toparticular demographic groups could increase visitors.Wales Coast Path Media Pack (http://bit.ly/wuAENq)
# 2. StorytellingHow do the stories associated to the Coast Path gettold and retold in a meaningful way? Walking Stories (http://bit.ly/x1Troj)People get inspired by good stories. There are manyto tell ranging from the Coast Path itselfto myths and legends of the surrounding areas.
# 3. OwnershipHow does every Welsh person become astakeholder in the Coast Path?If the path is seen as “our path, Wales’ path and acommunity path,” it enables the opportunity tobecome regarded in the same way as Hadrian’s Wallor The Great Wall of China are.
# 4. What is the Coast Path?How does the population of Wales discover theCoast Path?Anecdotal evidence suggests that much of the Welshpopulation is unaware of the Coast Path.
# 5. Walk the talkHow can marketing and promotional promises ofbe guaranteed once people chose to experiencethe Coast Path first hand? BBC News (http://bbc.in/vPs38D)If the Coast Path experience differs to the ‘greatexpectations’ marketing, the brand promise may bebroken e.g. traveler community contesting route maylead to gaps in the ‘unbroken’ route around thecoast.
# 6. More than the sum of the partsHow does each section of the path have aconsistent quality but their own USP to attractvisitors?Individual characteristics and USP’s will combine tocreate the overall experience. The Lonely Planet citedwildlife, great surf, castles and fantastic spots such asBarrafundle Bay and St David’s.
# 7. Loops of interestHow do the potential walking / cycling loops off thepath that lead to areas of interest, get includedtoo? BBC News (http://bbc.in/9V6kBD)The loops add an extra dimension to the Coast Pathexperience, often providing an opportunity for peopleto visit outstanding areas of interest, such as the Tre’rCeiri Hill Fort.
# 8. Unknown access pointsHow do the secret access points only known bylocals become more visible? Ceredigion Coast Path (http://bit.ly/xntP5E)In particular areas there are some remote locationswith access points that are hard to find that are realgems and real “finds” for visitors.
9. Geography and environmentKey problems associated withgeography, climate and localenvironment.
# 1. Rain or shineHow can we exploit phrases such as “Theres nosuch thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes”so the weather becomes an asset to the Coast Path? The Welsh Climate (http://bit.ly/kQ1ZIS)With increased access to weather information, risk ofbad weather is often more of a deterrent than theactual weather itself.
# 2. Boring bitsHow do the less accessible and desirable, parts ofthe coast path, such as industrial areas, getcommunicated positively?Not all areas of the path are desirable therefore it iscritical to manage expectations effectively to avoid anegative experience and bad word of mouth.
# 3. WasteHow do waste, rubbish and dog fouling getcontrolled as user number increase? Gwynedd Council (http://bit.ly/opMudA)A filthy path delivers a bad experience. Encouragingresponsible walking along the path will reduce waste,rubbish and fouling.
# 4. Consistent under footHow can the physical Coast Path offer a consistentwalking experience for users?An inconsistent foot path could deter users if they gofrom high quality physical path to an unkempt muddypath that’s difficult to walk.