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Days out in West Cornwall by Boot, Bus and Branchline

Cornwall Destination Management Organisation - Destination Audit

Penwith District Council's Tourism Strategy

Days out in West Cornwall by Boot, Bus and Branchline

A beautifully produced guide to places to visit in and around St Ives, Hayle, Penzance, Land's End and St Just and how to reach them in a sustainable way.

Download your copy here (4.1Mb each):

West Cornwall Guide, Part 1

West Cornwall Guide, Part 2

Cornwall Destination Management Organisation - Destination Audit

The Cornwall DMO was formed in 2005, to give strategic guidance to the industry.  Until the end of 2006 the Districts will still market their part of Cornwall and most will then relinquish that role (some fear that West Cornwall will then lose out again to the Eden Project and Newquay, for example). They will continue to fulfill their management of the public product.

This Destination Audit Cornwall is the evidence part of this wider Destination
Management process and will map out the current situation and opportunities for the future. The Audit covers:

  • The policy context
  • The volume and value of tourism
  • The profile of visits and visitors
  • The commercial tourism facilities (i.e. accommodation and attractions)
  • The natural and built environment in Cornwall, including the transport infrastructure
  • Events in Cornwall

Tourism is recognised as an important industry, being responsible for 24% of the County’s GDP (compared with 10% at a regional level). Tourism is seen to promote entrepreneurship, create many small and micro enterprises and employ a large number of people (labour intensive industry). However, it also creates issues of sustainability, seasonality, low investment levels and low rates of pay, and poor career prospects indicating the necessity for continued change within the industry. This strategy seeks to support changes in the industry to address these issues and to contribute towards economic targets whilst being sensitive to the needs of those who are disadvantaged and to the fragility of the environment.

Read the document and decide for yourself if the Destination Audit will solve West Cornwall's problems or keep us as the poorest part of the poorest county.

Targets for Cornwall

Targets for Cornwall are within an overall aim of reducing seasonality and increasing quality and include:

  • Improving the economic performance of tourism to generate over £1.25 billion.  The aim is to achieve 2% over the national growth
  • Further reducing seasonality with 70% of the industry open at least 10 months a year
  • Supporting over 40,000 professional, high value, full time permanent jobs in tourism and decreasing the percentage of low paid or temporary jobs significantly.
  • Retaining the economic benefit of tourism by reducing economic leakage by 10%, from approximately 50% to 40%


The overwhelming majority of visitors to Cornwall have been before and are currently the mainstay of the industry. Although this suggests an underlying satisfaction with the destination there needs to be investment to maintain a relative position against the rising quality in other destinations and across other leisure pursuits (including retail).

The natural environment, particularly the coast, is the most important factor in
motivating people to come to Cornwall. Shopping is also important. The Eden Project, Land’s End and the historic properties in the County are important components of many people trips.

Different life stages have different views about Cornwall:

  • Pre-family values the lively resorts and activities such as surfing
  • Families consider Cornwall to be a good all-round destination albeit with concerns about quality and price
  • Post family consider Cornwall to be distinctive particularly the coast and gardens. Distance is an issue

Roads, traffic, parking and wet weather facilities are be the biggest disappointment for visitors.

The majority of visitors find out about their accommodation through having been before. The Internet and brochures etc. each contributeless than 5%.

Cornwall is a family destination, particularly in the summer. Despite the longer than average length of stay, there are more short breaks and additional holidays to Cornwall than main holidays.

The majority of people use the car to get to Cornwall, more than the regional average.

Over time the number of staying trips to Cornwall has increased from 3.4 million in 1992 to 4.4 million in 2005. Much of this increase was in the mid 1990s with a peak around the 2002. The length of stay has fallen from about 10 nights in the 1970s to five nights in the early 2000s. Seasonality has become less pronounced over this time, albeit slowly. However seasonality is more pronounced in Cornwall than the rest of the region. There is a long term trend in Cornwall of a decline in the proportion of main holidays and an increase in the proportion of secondary holidays and short breaks.

Forecasts suggest that the number of visitors will grow, with most growth in the offpeak and a continued drop in the length of stay. It is clear that long-standing concerns about the impacts of seasonality are reflected in the regional and County targets.

Penwith District Council's Tourism Strategy

Making tourism in Penwith sustainable

Sustainability is one of the central themes of the New Cornish Economy
(In Pursuit of Excellence – Cornwall, p17, 2000).

Tourism is an extremely complex activity and there is little in Penwith that is not affected by its economic, social and/or environmental impact.
Tourism is one of Penwith’s key industry sectors. Tourism expenditure in Penwith totals approximately £ 230 million per annum1 and 34% of employment is directly supported by tourism revenue. Clearly tourism is extremely important to our economy both now and will be in the future, perhaps increasingly so. Indeed it is hard to see which other sector has the capacity to replicate or replace the revenue generated through tourism, should the industry ever face a significant downturn in trade. Therefore ensuring the viability and future prosperity of this industry is crucial to all within Penwith and ultimately Cornwall.

Whilst Penwith District Council, in line with other district councils, does not have a statutory duty toward tourism development, where there is clearly so much at stake the Council’s role as an ‘honest broker’ is an essential one. For many years we have recognised this responsibility by providing a tourism and visitor management service, perhaps most familiarly recognised as being delivered via our Tourist Information Centres, the Go-West visitor guide and our involvement in managing events.

However in recognising tourism as such a dynamic and powerful activity, now more than ever, a long-term plan is needed to guide its development.

Developing a Sustainable Tourism Strategy will allow us to build on our past activity and to actively encourage and assist the wise growth of tourism within and throughout the unique landscape of Penwith.

What does a sustainable approach to tourism entail?

In essence, sustainable tourism is about managing visitor impacts on the local destination’s economy, communities and environment to benefit all stakeholders both now and in the future. In 1999, the government published Tomorrow’s Tourism, which formally identified the pursuit of sustainable tourism as a priority. This was followed by the English Tourism Council (now Visit Britain) Time for Action Strategy, which identified three objectives for Sustainable Tourism, i.e. tourism should:

  • Benefit the economy of tourism destinations
  • Support local communities and culture
  • Protect and enhance the built and natural environment

The challenge is to find the optimum balance between these objectives, whereby no one objective is disproportionately favoured to the detriment of the others. If this can be achieved, the benefits will be significant, leading to an improved visitor experience, a higher quality tourism product and provide benefits for the local community in terms of an enhanced local economy, employment, amenity and environment.

Read the full draft of the strategy here.


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