Somerset Tourism Monitoring Surveys for Somerset County Council

Qa is conducting quantitative longitudinal research in locations across Somerset to inform tourism strategy and action plans. The research will also provide a regular monitor and measure any impacts on tourism of the development of a new nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point, to enable the Hinkley Tourism Action Partnership (HTAP) to address any issues that arise so the tourism sector is not damaged. The research comprises four waves; a baseline survey in year one, followed by tracking surveys in years two and three.

Background and Aims

HTAP was set up following the granting of planning permission to EDF Energy for the site preparation work needed to construct the new Hinkley Point C power station. A condition of planning permission was that EDF must fund measures aimed at reducing or making up for some of the expected impacts of the project on the local area, including tourism. Hence the research aims are to:

  • Profile visitors (who they are, what they are doing, levels of satisfaction and whether first time, regular or lapsed visitors), understand their motivations to visit, and rate the current offer against visitor’s needs and desires;
  • Capture and measure any negative impact on tourism from the development at Hinkley Point C (from road congestion to difficulty finding accommodation to anti-social behaviour in areas where construction teams are primarily residing).

 

Undertaking the research

Interviews with visitors are being undertaken face to face using CAPI tablets. To ensure the baseline sample included a wide range of visitors, 28 interviewer shifts were conducted by Qa’s field workers across five districts at a total of 19 locations, including visitor attractions, town centres and sea fronts. A small and consistent team of interviewers is being used to optimise data quality, through familiarity with the various interview locations and the questionnaire. 48 interviewer shifts will be completed in 2016, followed by 20 shifts in 2017.

In order that HTAP can identify any action to be undertaken, Qa is providing a summary report with analysis at County level after each of the four waves of fieldwork, and detailed annual reports with analysis at location level. Presentations of the findings will be delivered by Qa at various conferences each year including Somerset Tourism Association’s AGM, and HTAP’s business meeting.

Outcomes

The research will help the HTAP devise visitor management, PR and marketing plans and has already produced some interesting findings, published on the Visit Somerset website

What the researcher said:

Nick How, Research Director, Qa said: “Most of the visitor research we do is over a summer season or at a particular event, and as with this project, provides useful visitor data.  However, what makes this type of project so interesting to the researcher is firstly the need to design a questionnaire to uncover implicitly the impacts of Hinkley Point C on visitors’ experience, without asking them directly about their views on the development – to avoid influencing their perceptions in the process of interviewing them. Secondly, its longitudinal element; with what will be three years worth of data covering an increase in activity at Hinkley Point C, it will be interesting to see what changes, trends and continuities in visitors’ experience result.”

Contact Nick How, Research Director (Head of Tourism Research) for more information:

nick.how@qaresearch.co.uk or 01904 632039