The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has released the findings of its National Park 2022 visitor survey, which is repeated every five years, showing satisfaction levels amongst people visiting the Dales at their highest since the survey began in 2002.
The survey also reveals how more people came to the National Park last year to enjoy a walk and to socialise, suggesting that reconnecting with family and friends while enjoying the landscape and scenery has been important for visitors post-pandemic.
A record 96% of those surveyed by independent researchers Information by Design said they were very satisfied with their visit to the Yorkshire Dales National Park, representing a continued year-on-year increase in the proportion of visitors very satisfied with their visit over the past 20 years.
Recommendation levels were also high, with 94% of respondents very likely to recommend the National Park to friends and family, a high score in comparison with many national brands, and higher than the 91% scored in the 2017 survey.
Over three quarters of respondents said they felt natural beauty, scenery and views were special qualities of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. They also recognised – more than ever – the friendliness of Dales people, and Its pubs and food.
A separate survey conducted during the summer by the National Park Authority looked indepth at five ‘honey pot’ sites (Grassington, Malham. Hawes, Reeth and Aysgarth Falls). It revealed differences in visitor demographics and ethnicity across the sites, with Malham appealing more to younger visitors – one in three visitors here were aged 44 or under compared to one in five visitors at Grassington, Reeth and Aysgarth Falls – and attracting the most ethnically diverse visitor profile.
One in 10 visitors to Malham indicated they were from a Black, Asian or ethnic minority group, with these groups increasingly recommending Malham to their friends and family so that they can experience this stunning landscape for themselves.
During the pandemic, Aysgarth Falls proved a popular destination for first time visitors to the Dales. Two years on, Aysgarth Falls continues to attract just over a third (36%) of first-time visitors, much more than any other site, with Malham 26% and Reeth 11%. Reeth is more popular with repeat visitors.
The location-specific survey also asked what had encouraged people to visit these locations. The Channel 5 TV series ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ was frequently mentioned as a reason to visit Grassington, and Malham’s iconic ‘limestone scenery’ was named, alongside it being a place most recommended by friends and family to meet.
Derek Twine, Member Champion for Promoting Understanding, said: “These survey results highlight the importance of National Parks in providing the green spaces people need in their everyday life to benefit their mental and physical wellbeing, especially post-pandemic.
“National Parks are cherished landscapes that are here for the benefit of all of us. They’re fundamental to supporting people, climate and nature. For the Yorkshire Dales National Park it is hugely encouraging that so many visitors are returning having discovered the Dales before or during the pandemic – with the satisfaction levels at an all-time high. It’s great to see more diverse groups choosing to visit and recommending the National Park to others, and to see family and friends reconnecting and enjoying time in nature”.