5 Visitor Survey

Borders Railway Year 2 - Evaluation - Survey of users and non-users - February 2018

5 Visitor Survey

Overview

As discussed above, a key aim of this research was to record details of visitors using the Borders Railway during the summer peak and, in so doing, provide greater clarity on the overall tourism impact of the new line. In order to identify the responses to the User Survey provided by visitors, respondents were asked to indicate whether their current trip was

  • a leisure day trip to Midlothian and/or the Scottish Borders;
  • a leisure day trip to Edinburgh;
  • a short or long overnight trip to Midlothian and/or the Scottish Borders;
  • a short or long overnight trip to Edinburgh; or
  • None of the above.

This Chapter focuses on the respondents who selected the first four of the above options. A demographic breakdown of responses received by this group is included in Appendix D. 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?
  • What attracted visitors to make their current trip?
  • 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?
  • How did visitors rate their trip as a whole?
  • Have the tourist sites consulted seen an increase in tourist numbers and are there any barriers which prevent visitors to the sites from using the service?

What proportion of user of the Borders Railway are tourists?

Overall, 60% (n=496) of all respondents to the Year 2 Survey indicated that the purpose of their journey on the train was either a day trip or an overnight stay in the Scottish Borders, Midlothian or Edinburgh and therefore are considered tourists. When frequency of trip is taken into consideration this equates to 30% of annual single trips recorded via the sample. As would be expected given the timing of the surveys, this proportion is far higher than that recorded during the Year 1 Survey where visitors accounted for 39% (n=436) of respondents and visitor trips accounted for 15% of the annual single trips recorded by the sample.

Of those who reported that they were on either a day trip or an overnight stay, the majority were on day trips (87%, n=433) whilst 13%(n=63) said that their trip included an overnight stay. As shown in Figure 5.1, the largest proportion of respondents to the Year 2 survey stated that they were making a day trip to Edinburgh (55%, n=273). In total, 59% (n=293) were travelling to Edinburgh and 41% (n=203) were travelling to the Scottish Borders or Midlothian. The proportions are broadly comparable to the Year 1 Survey although there is a slightly higher proportion of day trips to Midlothian and the Scottish Borders (32% compared to 25%) and a smaller proportion of overnight trips to Edinburgh (4% compared to 9%).

Of the 203 respondents travelling to the Scottish Borders or Midlothian, approximately 8% (n=17) were travelling to Midlothian (accounting for 3% of the overall visitor sample). Given the relatively small size of the Midlothian sample, breaking down the results by local authority would be unreliable and therefore, for the remainder of this chapter, the data for visitors to Scottish Borders and Midlothian is reported together.

Figure 5.1: Journey purpose (day trips and overnight stays)

Figure 5.1: Journey purpose (day trips and overnight stays)

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).

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

Overall, 89% (n=414) of visitors who provided their home location were residents of Scotland, with 61% (n=283) living in the Scottish Borders, 11% (n=53) living in Edinburgh, and 6% (n=30) living in Midlothian. A further 9% (n=40) came from elsewhere in the UK and 0.2% (n=1) came from the USA. Overall, 3% (n=12) selected ‘other overseas’, with responses including South Africa, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Canada, and Venezuela. While the number of overseas visitors appears small compared to the proportion coming from the UK, international visitors are a key market for tourism in Scotland.

Key Point:
Visitors accounted for 60% of respondents to the User Survey. The majority (89%) of these came from Scotland with the largest proportion from the Scottish Borders. There were also smaller numbers of visitors from elsewhere in the UK as well as the USA and a number of other overseas countries. Whilst the majority of visitor trips were to Edinburgh, there were also a considerable number of trips made to the Scottish Borders.

What attracted visitors to make their current trip?

Figure 5.3 shows the reasons respondents provided for making their current trip. It is noted that respondents were able to tick more than one box. Overall, the most popular response was to visit family and friends with 39% (n=45) of respondents selecting this option. In total 6% (n=7) selected ‘to experience the Borders Railway’. As shown below, a similar proportion of respondents ticked the other options.

Figure 5.3: What attracted visitors to make their current trip?

Figure 5.3: What attracted visitors to make their current trip?

Key Point:
Visiting family and friends was the most popular reason given by visitors for making their current trip with 39% of respondents ticking this option.

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. Amongst those who responded to this question (n=471), 71% (n=333) said that the Borders Railway had been a factor in their decision to make their current trip, with 32% (n=150) stating it was the main factor, 29% (n=136) stating it was one of a number of factors, and 10% (n=47) stating it was a fairly minor factor (see Figure 5.4).

The overall proportion of respondents stating that the line was a factor in their decision to make their trip was higher in Year 2 (71%, n=333) compared to Year 1 (67%, n=276). However, a smaller proportion of Year 2 respondents (29%, n=136) said the line was the main factor compared to Year 1 respondents (35%, n=144).

As shown in the figure below, 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 5.4: The importance of the Borders Railway in respondents’ decision to make their current trip

Figure 5.4: 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=468), 25% (n=119) said they would not have made the trip. This is slightly higher than the equivalent Year 1 figure (23%, n=98).

As shown in the Figure 5.5 below, the proportion of those selecting this option was slightly higher amongst those visiting Midlothian and / or the Scottish Borders (27%, n=51) compared to those visiting Edinburgh (25%, n=68), with the highest proportion being amongst day trippers to Midlothian and / or the Scottish Borders (28%, n=41). This pattern is broadly comparable with the Year 1 figures.

Figure 5.5: Likelihood of respondent making trip if the Borders Railway had not re-opened

Figure 5.5: Likelihood of respondent making trip if the Borders Railway had not re-opened

Those respondents who indicated that they would not have made the trip if the Borders Railway not re-opened were asked what they would have done otherwise. Of those who responded to this question (n=117), the majority (47%, n=55) reported that they would have stayed at home (see Figure 5.6 below).

Figure 5.6: Activity undertaken if the respondent had not made current trip

Figure 5.6: Activity undertaken if the respondent had not made current trip

Key Point:
Overall, the data suggests that the re-opening of the Borders Railway is a relatively important factor in people’s decision to make tourism trips with over 70% of respondents to the question stating that it was a factor in their decision to make their journey and 25% stating that they would not have made their trip were it not for the railway line. These figures are slightly higher than the equivalent Year 1 figures (65% and 23% respectively).

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

The tourists who indicated that they were making an overnight stay (13%, n=63) were also asked to provide details of the accommodation which would be / had been used during their visit (see Figure 5.7 below).

Figure 5.7: Accommodation type used for overnight stays by trip destination

Figure 5.7: Accommodation type used for overnight stays by trip destination

For those staying in Edinburgh, the most common accommodation choice was staying with friends and / or family (50%, n=9) followed by staying in an hotel (39%, n=7). Amongst those staying in Midlothian and / or the Scottish Borders, staying with friends and / or family was again the most popular option (71%, n=30) followed by staying in an hotel (10%, n=4). It is noted, however, that the sample sizes for all options are relatively small, particularly for those visiting Edinburgh.

The Year 2 data is broadly similar to the Year 1 data. However, hotels were the most popular accommodation amongst Edinburgh visitors in the Year 1 Survey, with visiting family and friends the second most popular option. This difference may be a result of the likely higher cost of accommodation at the time of the Year 2 Survey, taking place during the Edinburgh Festival.

Figure 5.8 below shows the amount spent on accommodation by those making overnight trips. This highlights that the majority (56%, n=35) did not pay for accommodation with the proportion who did not pay higher for those visiting Midlothian and / or the Scottish Borders (58%, n=25) compared to those visiting Edinburgh (53%, n=10). In the main those staying in Edinburgh were paying more for their accommodation than those staying within the Scottish Borders and / or Midlothian.

Figure 5.8: Approximate amount spent on overnight accommodation by those making overnight trips by trip destination

Figure 5.8: Approximate amount spent on overnight accommodation by those making overnight trips by trip destination

Key Point:
Staying with friends and / or family was the most common accommodation type amongst visitors to both Edinburgh and Midlothian / the Scottish Borders with a slightly higher proportion of visitors to the latter choosing this option. 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 5.9 overleaf shows the activities undertaken by tourist day trippers and those on overnight stays during their trip.

Overall, shopping was by far the most popular choice of activity with 27% (n=239) of those who answered the 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.

Amongst those visiting Edinburgh, the next most popular activity was attending a music concert / theatre / art festival reflecting the fact that the Edinburgh Fringe Festival was on at the time of the survey. Amongst visitors to Scottish Borders / Midlothian, walking was the next most popular activity.

Where respondents indicated that they had visited a castle, museum, country park or visitor / heritage centre, they were also asked to provide the name of the attraction they visited. Popular sites amongst those visiting Midlothian and / or the Scottish Borders included Abbotsford House, Melrose Abbey and Bowhill House whilst amongst those visiting Edinburgh, Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, Camera Obscura, the National Gallery and the Botanic Gardens were popular responses.

Figure 5.9: Activities undertaken by those making day trips or overnight trips

Figure 5.9: Activities undertaken by those making day trips or overnight trips

Figure 5.10 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 5.10: Approximate amount spent excluding accommodation and train fare by those making day and overnight trips by trips destination

Figure 5.10: Approximate amount spent excluding accommodation and train fare by those making day and overnight trips by trips destination

Key Point:
Respondents undertook a range of activities during their trip with shopping the most commonly cited activity. In terms of specific attraction, amongst those visiting the Scottish Borders / Midlothian, responses included Abbotsford House and Melrose Abbey whilst amongst respondents visiting Edinburgh responses included Edinburgh Castle, the Botanic Gardens and Holyrood Palace.

How did visitors rate their trip as a whole?

As shown in Figure 5.11, the majority of visitors rated their trip as either very good (44%, n=210) or good (36%, n=171), with a further 15% (n=70) stating that they had only just started their trip and therefore could not provide a rating.

Figure 5.11: Overall Rating of Visitor Trip

Figure 5.11: Overall Rating of Visitor Trip

Key Point:
The majority of visitors rated their trip as either very good or good.