An Examination of the Challenges of Capturing the Value of Adventurous Off-road Cycling: A Perspective from South West England
Ormerod, Neil Stewart
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
I wish to publish papers using material that is substantially drawn from my thesis.
Purpose-built off-road cycling infrastructure represents a relatively new form of tourism and recreation product. Over the last decade, widespread development of these facilities has taken place in the UK, primarily within forest and woodland areas. The justification for developing these sites has largely centred on their ability to generate positive economic benefits for the tourism and leisure economy. In contrast to the focus on growth and investment, relatively little attention has been paid to understanding the extent to which off-road cycling benefits the tourism and leisure economy. Furthermore, even less is known about the visitor dimension. Developing a better understanding of these interrelated aspects forms the basis of this research. This study presents a dedicated method for critically examining the nexus between off-road cycling and the tourism and leisure economy. This relationship was investigated through the lens of the 1 South West Project, which has the purpose of developing the South West into a premier off-road cycling region. The research focuses on Haldon Forest Park located on the outskirts of Exeter, in Devon. The findings from the large scale questionnaire survey (n = 486) reveal that the off-road cycling facilities are valued highly by users and are regarded as an important regional asset for tourism and recreation. Furthermore, the site was found to attract a broad range of off-road cycling visitors, and have a significant interaction with the regional economy. Interviews conducted with off-road cyclists also identified an emotional connection between off-road cycling and the forest environment. Respondents also emphasised the importance of the informal and social aspects of the activity. The approach taken by this study has enabled the intersection between visitor expenditure and consumer behaviour at purpose-built off-road cycling sites to be explored in detail. This aspect has been largely ignored within the off-road cycling literature, which has failed to look beyond basic economic transactions and acknowledge the presence of visitor sub-groups. Using Cluster Analysis to address these limitations, this study was able to identify behavioural and economic variations among visitors, and from this produce a detailed typology of users at Haldon Forest Park. This information provides important baseline data for the 1 South West Project, and has important practical implications for the future management of the off-road cycling infrastructure and onsite facilities. Furthermore, this study makes a methodological contribution to the literature through its innovative use of Cluster Analysis, as part of a dual approach to examining the economic contribution of off-road cycling.
Economic and Social Research Council ESRC)
PhD in Management Studies