Changing the way that we think about travel to and within East Devon delivers compelling benefits for the environment and for the destination and individual business brands. It’s a great way for businesses to attract new and responsible customers and develop resilience to evolving market trends.
Global leader the Travel Foundation, our delivery partner in the Coast & Country project, advises that consumers are increasingly preferring slow and relaxed travel patterns and more sustainable options in preference to long car journeys. Demand for active travel options is also growing, providing opportunities for businesses to diversify and market themselves to casual walkers, hikers, cyclists and water sports enthusiasts. And what better place than East Devon to slow down and travel through mindfully, enjoying our exceptional coast and countryside?
Be part of the change, feel the benefits
We got together with government, businesses and infrastructure providers to suggest ways that businesses can encourage sustainable travellers. Here are some ideas:
- Encourage guests to use public transport where possible, both to arrive in their destination and to travel around. Although it can be a challenge in rural areas, many parts of East Devon are accessible by train or bus. Help guests make sustainable choices by including links to bus and train timetables on your website and in your welcome pack. Our Changemaker Champion Alpine Park Holiday Cottages links guests with the Touch Stay APP to make the most of their stay, including information on bus routes, and active travel options.
- Join your local Visit site in promoting sustainable travel experiences as part of your marketing. With train stations at Axminster, Honiton and Exeter providing a Gateway to the West, encourage visitors to take a long weekend on the train.
- Support visitors who want to come to the area on public transport by providing a shuttle pick-up service from rail stations. Think about collaborating with other local businesses at peak times to provide an incentive for sustainable travelling and an important point of difference for your business.
- Some businesses go even further, incentivising visitors to travel responsibly by offering reduced rates to those arriving by train.
- If you are running a festival or large event, think about including information on your website or social media posts encouraging visitors to car share. Changemaker Champion Sidmouth Jazz and Blues Festival is an example of a business that wants to actively promote car sharing with festival eventgoers.
- Support consumers who have made the switch to electric vehicles by installing EV charging points at your establishment. Electric vehicles accounted for 16% of all new vehicle registrations in 2022, with that figure rising to 23% for hybrids. With electric vehicle owners frequently experiencing “range anxiety”, providing EV charging points can be an important differentiating feature for your business. We’ve created a guide to installing EV charging points here. Direct visitors with EV cars to our interactive EV charging points map. Members of Visit Sidmouth, Seaton, Honiton, Ottery and Budleigh can list their EV charging points on our map free of charge.
East Devon is uniquely blessed with a whole range of active travel options, including hiking, cycling and water-based options. Marketing these activities is an opportunity to embrace new visitors and encourage guests to try new activities or ways of travelling which may become lifelong passions. Here are some ideas:
- Link up with local groups of enthusiasts to improve your knowledge of what is available for active travellers in our area.
- Look at our calendar of events and market those to customers.
- Provide guests with links to walking/cycling maps on your website. Think about investing in copies of OS maps and walking guides which guests can borrow – Sidmouth Tourist Information Centre has a great range of these.
- Or connect with our Visit Sidmouth walking pages. We are constantly adding new maps of great walks around East Devon. The East Devon AONB and the East Devon Way have excellent walks on their websites too.
- Provide facilities for guests to bring their bikes, including secure storage facilities. Think about whether you can support guests bringing their bikes with additional transportation and luggage needs.
- Consider purchasing E-bikes, so guests don’t have to bring their own. East Devon has several electric bike hire locations, including Honiton station, which may provide an option for onward travel for your guests. For more information visit www.co-bikes.co.uk
- Consider partnering with other tourism businesses to provide “bundle” experiences or deals. So an activity-based business might want to partner with an accommodation provider or a restaurant to offer reduced rates for participants in active festival activities. Businesses can increase their marketing reach by cross-promotion on one another’s websites and social media and via linked itineraries. Visit Sidmouth members can benefit from linked itinerary creation on the site.
- Use your local knowledge to improve your guest experience and help local supply chains by having a list of recommendations of restaurants and places of interest near well-known walking and cycle routes. A traditional hospitality idea which still has plenty of relevance today.
Find out more
To explore whether EV charging points could be a good solution for your business, check out the free Visit England webinar recording here.
East Devon District Council provides details of EV charging points in its car parks.
Visit Sidmouth provides details of EV charging points in car parks and businesses across East Devon here.
Good Journey is a sustainable tourism website with plenty of ideas of car free itineraries for guests.
See our walking and cycling pages here for great ideas to share with your guests:
For ideas on how you can create a great welcome for cyclists, see For ideas, visit https://www.ebikeholiday.co.uk/responsible-tourism
For an excellent quick and practical self-assessment tool on how well you cater for cyclists and what you could do to improve, see https://scottishmtbtourism.com/self-assessment/