The Continuing Dominance of the Car for Leisure Daytrips in the UK. A Case Study of The National Trust.

The Continuing Dominance of the Car for Leisure Daytrips in the UK. A Case Study of The National Trust.


D Robbins, J Dickinson, J Brackstone, Bournemouth University, UK


This paper uses the NT visitor survey to measure the share of arrivals by car. It identifies which type of property achieves high shares of arrivals by public transport and the demographic profile of visitors most likely to use public transport.


Leisure transport is a large contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (see Peeters et. al. 2007) and generates significant environmental impacts. This applies to domestic leisure and tourism trips in the UK, which are dominated by car.

Although the UK government has committed to an 80% decrease in carbon emissions over 1990 levels by 2050, it is also committed to growing its tourism industry (DCMS 2004). Previous work by the authors has focused on the potential conflicts between transport policy and tourism policy objectives in the UK (Robbins & Dickinson 2007) and this paper will develop this theme further by identifying and developing practical policies currently in place and evaluating their effectiveness.

One obvious approach to achieve leisure and tourism growth in a sustainable way is to achieve a modal switch away from car to more sustainable public transport for domestic tourism. The paper will include an extensive review of international examples of successful modal switch and assess their transferability to the UK.

The authors have identified several factors that contibute to the car share for leisure trips including the length of stay and the location of the visitor attraction (Robbins & Dickinson 2008). This paper will analyse in greater detail the factors that contribute to high levels of arrival by car.

The Market Research Group at Bournemouth University has undertaken the National Visitor Survey for the National Trust for over 10 years. This paper uses this vast data base, collected over several years from around 150 visitor attractions operated by the National Trust, to measure the current car share. The paper observes time series trends and evaluates the impact of emerging NT policies towards sustainable development on this car share. It concludes that car dominance is not declining.

By their very nature many National Trust properties are in remote, rural or peripheral locations. This paper explores the impact of location and the availability of public transport on the car share. It also explores the demographic profile and group composition of those who arrive by car with those who arrive by public transport, identifying the most promising segments to target for modal shift.

The paper reviews the effectiveness of specific policies at selected locations to achieve modal shift, including the development of 'green' transport plans. Policies at specific NT sites include no available car parking, reduced price admission for those arriving by public transport (on production of a ticket)and designation as a 'model vision of sustainability'. The paper will explore the effectiveness of these strategies.

To conclude, the paper identifies that the car share is as dominant in travel to National Trust properties as it was ten years ago. It identifies those policies which have had the greatest impact on reducing the car share and those polices which have had minimal or no impact. The paper proposes an alternative integrated approach to achieve increased modal shift.

References :

Department for Culture, Media and Sport (2004) Tomorrow?s Tourism - Today, London, The Stationary Office

Peeters, P., Szimba, E. & Duijnisveld, M. (2007) European Tourism Transport and the Main Environmental Impacts, Journal of Transport Geography 15 (2), pp 83 ? 93.

Robbins, D.K. & Dickinson, J.E , (2007) Achieving Domestic Tourism Growth and Simultaneously Reducing Car Dependency: The illusive prize. Peeters, P. (ed) Tourism and Climate Change and Mitigation : Methods, greenhouse gas reductions and policies, NHTV : Breda.

Robbins.D.K. & Dickinson, J (2008) ?Transport to visitor attractions?, in ?Managing Visitor Attractions : New Directions? 2nd ed Fyall,A, Garrod.B, Leask., & Wanhill.S. (ed.), Oxford : Butterworth Heinemann pp 108 - 126


Association for European Transport