5 Visitor Trips

5 Visitor Trips

Overview

As discussed in Chapter 2, initial evidence suggests that there has been an increase in tourist trips to the Scottish Borders and Midlothian since the re-opening of the line.  In order to examine this, a series of questions were included in the User Survey aimed specifically at day trippers and those making overnight stays.  This Chapter provides a summary of the key findings in this regard. It is noted that due to the time period over which the surveys were undertaken (21/11/16 – 04/12/16) the number of responses from tourists is likely to be low compared to that which would be achieved in peak season.  In order to frame the argument, the Chapter is again structured around a series of key questions as follows:

  • What proportion of Borders Railway users are tourists?
  • To what extent is the re-opening of the Borders Railway a factor in people’s decision to make tourist trips?
  • What type of accommodation is used by overnight tourists using the Borders Railway and how much do they spend on accommodation?
  • What activities are undertaken by tourists using the Borders Railway and how much do they spend on activities?

What proportion of users of the Borders Railway are tourists?

Overall, 39% (n=436) of respondents to the User Survey indicated that the purpose of their journey on the train was either a day trip or overnight stay in the Scottish Borders, Midlothian or Edinburgh.  When frequency of trip is taken into account this equates to 15% of annual single trips recorded via the sample.  As shown in Figure 5.1, the largest proportion of these were to / from Edinburgh, with day trips to the capital most popular (accounting for 56% of all visitor trips recorded).  Day trips to the Scottish Borders were the next most common purpose, accounting for 25% of all visitor trips recorded.  Overall, there were fewer trips to Midlothian, with just 2% of recorded trips being day trips and no overnight trips to Midlothian recorded via the sample.

Figure 5.1: Journey Purpose (Day Trips and Holidays)

Figure 5.1: Journey Purpose (Day Trips and Holidays)

Figure 5.2 below provides a breakdown of the home location of those who indicated they were travelling for a day or overnight trip for those who provided this information. Overall, the majority (84%, n=301) lived in Scotland with smaller numbers based elsewhere in the UK and overseas.

Figure 5.2: Home Location of Respondents who identified themselves as Day and Overnight Visitors

Figure 5.2: Home Location of Respondents who identified themselves as Day and Overnight Visitors

Key Point:

Tourists accounted for 39% of respondents to the User Survey.  While the majority of these were Edinburgh based, a considerable proportion of the overall sample (11%) were tourist trips to the Scottish Borders, with a further 2% being Midlothian bound.  

To what extent is the re-opening of the Borders Railway a factor in people’s decision to make tourist trips?

Respondents to the User Survey who indicated they were making a tourist day trip or overnight trip were also asked about the extent to which the re-opening of the Borders Railway had influenced their decision to make the trip (see Figure 5.3).  Amongst those who responded to this question (n=412), 35% (n=145) said the re-opening of the line was the main factor in their decision and a further 22% (n=92) said it was one of a number of important factors.  Overall, those travelling to Midlothian and / or the Scottish Borders placed more importance on the re-opening of the line than those travelling to Edinburgh, with those making day trips seeing it as more important than those undertaking longer holidays.

Figure 5.3: The importance of the Borders Railway in respondents’ decision to make their current trip

Figure 5.3: The importance of the Borders Railway in respondents’ decision to make their current trip

Respondents were also asked whether they would have made their current trip if the Borders Railway had not re-opened.  Of those who responded to this question (n=421), 23% (n=98) said they would not have made the trip (see Figure 5.4).  As shown below, the proportion selecting this option was slightly higher amongst those visiting Midlothian and / or the Scottish Borders (33%, n=45) compared to those visiting Edinburgh (19%, n=49), with highest figure again being amongst day trippers to Midlothian and the Scottish Borders (37%, n=37).

Figure 5.4: Likelihood of respondent making trip if the Borders Railway had not re-opened

Figure 5.4: Likelihood of respondent making trip if the Borders Railway had not re-opened

Those respondents who indicated they would not have made the trip if the Borders Railway had not re-opened were asked what they would have done otherwise.  Of those who responded to this question (n=88), the majority (48%, n=42) stated that they would have stayed at home (see Figure 5.5).

Figure 5.5: Activity undertaken if the respondent had not made current trip

Figure 5.5: Activity undertaken if the respondent had not made current trip

Key Point:

Overall the re-opening of the Borders Railway appears to be a relatively important factor in people’s decision to make tourism trips with more than 65% of tourists using the service stating that it was a factor in their decision to make their journey and 23% stating that they would not have made their trip were it not for the rail line. 

What type of accommodation is used by overnight tourists using the Borders Railway and how much do they spend on accommodation?

Those who indicated they were making an overnight stay were also asked to provide details of the accommodation which would be / had been used during their visit (see Figure 5.6). For those staying in Edinburgh, the most common option was hotel (59%, n=22) followed by staying with friends and/or family (35%, n=13).  Amongst those staying in Midlothian and / or Scottish Borders, there was a slightly wider range of accommodation types with staying with friends and / or family being the most popular response (65%, n=24) followed by hotels (22%, n=8).

Figure 5.6: Accommodation Type used for Overnight Stays by Trip Destination

Figure 5.6: Accommodation Type used for Overnight Stays by Trip Destination

Figure 5.7 below shows the amount spent on accommodation by those making overnight trips.  Overall, the majority (39%, n=30) did not pay for accommodation, with the proportion who did not pay being higher amongst those visiting the Scottish Borders and / or Midlothian (49%, n= 18) than those visiting Edinburgh (31%, n=12).  In the main those staying in Edinburgh were paying more for their accommodation than those staying within the Scottish Borders and / or Midlothian.

Figure 5.7: Approximate amount spent on overnight accommodation by those making overnight trips by trip destination

Figure 5.7: Approximate amount spent on overnight accommodation by those making overnight trips by trip destination

Key Point:

Hotels were the most common accommodation type for those staying in Edinburgh while staying with friends and / or family was the most popular response amongst those visiting the Borders and Midlothian. Most respondents indicated they did not pay for accommodation with the proportion who did not pay being higher amongst those visiting the Scottish Borders and / or Midlothian than those visiting Edinburgh.

What activities are undertaken by tourists using the Borders Railway and how much do they spend on activities?

Figure 5.8 shows the activities undertaken by tourist day trippers and those making overnight stays during their trip.  Overall, shopping was by far the most popular activity with 48% (n=273) of respondents who answered this question selecting this option.  Shopping was the most commonly cited activity amongst those traveling to Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders / Midlothian albeit a slightly larger proportion of those going to Edinburgh selected this option. The dominance of shopping as an activity may in part be a result of the timing over which the surveys were undertaken and the proximity of the Christmas period.   

Where respondents indicated that they visited a castle, museum, country park or heritage centre, they were also asked to provide the name of the attraction they visited.  Amongst those visiting the Scottish Borders / Midlothian responses included Melrose Abbey and Hawick Museum while amongst respondents visiting Edinburgh responses included Edinburgh Castle, the Botantic Gardens, National Portrait Gallery, and National History Museum.  A relatively large proportion of respondents selected ‘other’.  Amongst respondents visiting Edinburgh popular responses included visiting the Christmas Markets / Winter Wonderland; going to the Royal Yacht Britannia; and meeting friends whilst for the respondents visiting the Scottish Borders and/or Midlothian responses included visiting friends and rugby.

Figure 5.8: Activities undertaken by those making day trips or overnight trips to Edinburgh and Midlothian and / or the Scottish Borders

Figure 5.8: Activities undertaken by those making day trips or overnight trips to Edinburgh and Midlothian and / or the Scottish Borders

Figure 5.9 below shows the amount spent (excluding accommodation and the train fare) on the trip by those making day and overnight trips.  As may be expected those making overnight stays spent more than day trippers and, as above, those taking a trip in Edinburgh tended to spend more than those taking a trip in the Scottish Borders / Midlothian.

Figure 5.9: Approximate amount spent excluding accommodation and train fare by those making day and overnight trips by trip destination

Figure 5.9: Approximate amount spent excluding accommodation and train fare by those making day and overnight trips by trip destination

Key Point:

Respondents undertook a range of activities during their trip with shopping the most commonly cited activity. In terms of specific attractions, amongst those visiting the Scottish Borders / Midlothian responses included Melrose Abbey and Hawick Museum while amongst respondents visiting Edinburgh responses included Edinburgh Castle, the Botanic Gardens, National Portrait Gallery, and National History Museum.