7stanes Phase 2 Evaluation

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Place: Ae, Dalbeattie, Glentress, Innerleithen, Glentrool, Kirroughtree, Mabie, Newcastleton

Overview

This study found that the 7stanes mountain bike trail system draws over 300,000 visitors annually who would not otherwise have come to the South of Scotland. Trail construction in Phase 1 was followed by Phase 2, which focused on improving the economic impact from the trails by increasing the proportion of visitors staying for multiple nights. This was accomplished by making the trails more appealing to a broader skill range, improving the quality of existing trails, and continuing maintenance on existing trails.

Relevance

This study provides an overview of the long-term process entailed in developing a community-based (rather than resort-based) destination trail system that meets the community economic development goals. Particularly noteworthy in this study is the description of long-term vision and goals for the project and an assessment of how well the trail system is meeting those goals, considerations that would improve many trail development projects.

Location

The study is based in seven small towns in southern Scotland: Ae, Dalbeattie, Glentress and Innerleithen, Glentrool, Kirroughtree, Mabie, and Newcastleton.

Trail Type

This study addresses the 7stanes mountain bike trail system, which includes networks of trails in seven towns.

Purpose

The study was conducted for the Forestry Commission Scotland with the purpose of estimating how well the agency’s investment in mountain bike trails and infrastructure has met the original goals for visitation and economic impact. The results were compared to an earlier study completed in 2004. The 7stanes project began in 2001 with the goal of rural economic development in the South of Scotland through the development of a world-class mountain bike destination. Phase 2 focused on promoting the trails built during Phase 1 and meeting specific economic development targets.

Findings

  • Approximately 395,000 mountain bikers visit the trails annually.
  • Seventy-eight percent of respondents stated that the mountain bike trails were the only reason they were visiting the South of Scotland.
  • Nearly half of all visitors were intermediate-level mountain bike riders.
  • Compared to the 2004 survey after the trails initially were constructed, a larger proportion of visitors now are coming from other parts of the UK and overseas. In the earlier survey, more visitors were coming from other parts of Scotland.
  • One-third of respondents spent at least one night, while in 2004 only one-quarter spent at least one night.
  • Three-quarters of respondents rated the trail quality as “very good”; in 2004, 68 percent rated the trail quality as “very good.”
  • Visitor numbers have increased by 222,000, which is 131 percent of the target.  The number of new jobs created is 139, which is 204 percent of the target.

Methods

The authors collected data using surveys administered at trailheads. They obtained 531 completed surveys; it is unclear what the response rate was or how the sampling strategy was determined. Respondents were asked questions about trail use, awareness of other parts of the 7stanes network, how they learned about the area, and expenditures during their trip.

These data were used as input into a regional economic model, although it is unclear which one was used.

Results for the user survey and economic impact analysis were compared to an earlier study in 2004, conducted shortly after the trails were built.

Citation

Ekos Limited and Tourism Resources Company. 2007. 7stanes Phase 2 Evaluation. Report for Forestry Commission Scotland.