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Markets for growth

Find out more about he market trends for the English Riviera.

Market trends for the English Riviera:

  • Time together - spending time with friends and family
  • The outdoors - activity, health, and well-being
  • The authentic - appeal of less visited, undiscovered places with distinctive local culture
  • Experiential tourism – culture, heritage, events, experiences
  • Responsible and sustainable tourism

What we know

The English Riviera is primarily a UK domestic leisure destination, with over three-quarters of visitors on holiday (compared to England’s average of just under half) [5]. Given the ‘holiday focus’ it is unsurprising that 29% of all visits take place in July and August [6]. And, again, not surprising with a holiday focus, visitors stay longer but on average spend less than the typical visitor elsewhere in England [7].

The English Riviera has an impressively high return visitor rate of 89%, who typically rate their experience very highly. Whilst this is a great achievement, it is an issue to consider when coupled with Torbay's typically older visitor profile (71% aged over 55), and the lower satisfaction rates of first-time visitors to the destination [8].

These key statistics paint a picture of a destination which is highly dependent on an ageing market and summer visitors.

To survive and grow, the English Riviera has to target a broader range of market segments, who are able and willing to spend more throughout the year. Impressing these new markets during a first-time visit, to nurture a new generation of loyal visitors should be a top priority, and so the needs and wants of these segments should in turn dictate the investment in new product and experience development.

Target markets

Three leisure segments have been selected as having growth potential for the English Riviera, drawing on robust research by ERBIDCo, VisitEngland and other UK National Tourist Boards (VisitScotland, VisitWales, Fáilte Ireland). Realising the growth potential of these segments will depend on the development of the offer and so should be built up over time. A fourth business tourism segment has also been identified, as a market to sustain and rebuild, capitalising on the destination’s existing and emerging assets.

Geographically, the primary focus for the English Riviera should be on the UK domestic market, where there is significantly more growth potential and return on marketing investment will be greater. In general, targeting should concentrate on a four-hour travel time for staying visitors.

A family walking in front of beach huts. The father is carrying a young boy on his shoulders while the mother holds hand with a young girl.

Fun by the Sea Families

Immediate priority:

  • UK Families with younger children (<13): extended families, multi-generational, groups.
  • Strong affinity towards England breaks, particularly seaside during summer and other school holidays, weekends, Easter - October.
  • Highly motivated by beaches, small towns, outdoor leisure, theme parks, family attractions
  • Cheaper/affordable accommodation especially caravans/ holiday parks
  • Prepared to spend on treats and entertainment for the children
  • Child-friendly attractions and activities are a must
  • ‘Fun’ is the name of the game – learning is an added bonus
  • Need detailed practical information to reassure and inspire
Four young people wearing wetsuits and safety helmets jumping of a cliff into the sea.

Young actives

Short-medium term:

  • Groups of friends and couples in 20s to 30s
  • Year-round, but mostly Autumn to Spring
  • Activity is more important than place
  • Looking for excitement and adrenaline activities
  • Good infrastructure and facilities essential
  • Good value accommodation
  • Easy to access, organise, book etc.
  • Socialising and sharing experiences – live and online
An older couple walking hand in hand through the gardens of Torre Abbey.

Cultural explorers

Medium-longer term:

  • UK, international and cruise visitors – couples, groups of friends
  • Typically, 35+, older, working, and retired, no/post children
  • Take lots of breaks and holidays, like to explore different places
  • Year-round, mid-week and weekends.
  • Want inspiring, authentic, interesting places within easy reach
  • Interested in heritage, culture, gentle activities
  • Natural environment and beautiful landscapes and vistas important (potential for geo-tourism)
  • Quality, authentic local food, and drink – and good accommodation
A tourism conference showing people visiting stands talking to the exhibitors.

Business tourism and events

Long term - sustain and rebuild:

  • Regional/national association conferences and corporate meetings within 30-50 miles,
  • Will include international delegates
  • Looking for easy access, value, quality and flexible spaces and good accommodation
  • Post Covid-19 team building opportunities
  • Complement leisure tourism – corporate and conferences mid-week and in spring and autumn.
  • Wider leisure offer and social programmes important for some markets
  • Opportunity around business to leisure ‘converters’
  1. 3-year averages 2019-2019, Great Britain Tourism Survey, Visit Britain
  2. %s for Devon. The Economic Impact of Devon’s Visitor Economy 2019, the South West Research Company Ltd
  3. 3-year averages 2019-2019, Great Britain Tourism Survey, Visit Britain
  4. Stats from English Riviera Visitor Survey 2021