Walking Festivals in Ireland
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Walking Festivals in Ireland Linda Campbell Senior Researcher The Tourism Research Centre, Dublin Institute of Technology November 2003 Linda.campbell@dit.ie Presentation Outline Walking in Ireland Wicklow Walking Festival - Background Wicklow Walking Festival - Report Findings

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Walking Festivals in Ireland

  • Linda Campbell

  • Senior Researcher

  • The Tourism Research Centre,

  • Dublin Institute of Technology

  • November 2003

  • Linda.campbell@dit.ie


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Presentation Outline

  • Walking in Ireland

  • Wicklow Walking Festival - Background

  • Wicklow Walking Festival - Report Findings

  • Walking Festivals in Ireland

  • Recommendations for walking festivals


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Walking in Ireland

  • 2002 219,000 overseas hiking/walking participants

  • revenue €161 million. 

  • Hiking/Cross-country Walking (000s)     2002

  • Britain                   77                    Mainland Europe                  85                    North America                 48                    Other Overseas    10

  •                     Total Overseas   219

Failte Ireland


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Walking Festivals in Ireland

  • National Events

  • 42 walking festivals

  • 1. DONEGAL INTERNATIONAL WALKING FESTIVAL

  • BALLYHOURA INTERNATIONAL WALKING FESTIVAL

  • 3. WICKLOW MOUNTAINS WALKING FESTIVAL


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Wicklow Walking Festival

  • Festivals developed in 1989

  • Wicklow County Tourism

  • Local trained walking guides

  • 3 day festival May & October bank holiday

  • Walking identified as a growth market – walking guide and the festivals


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Wicklow Walking Festival - organisation

  • Brochure mailed to over 1,000 people

  • Prepaid receive ID no., maps & accommodation listings

  • Non-profit basis

  • Up to 4 walks per day to suit different abilities (A, B & C walks)

  • Themed – history, geology, culture, flora & fauna

  • Traditional music on Sat & Sun after walks


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Wicklow Walking Festival - numbers

  • 180 walkers on night walk

  • 300 walkers in the A, B & C walks on Sat & Sun

  • A – Challenging long distance walk

  • B – Moderately challenging

  • C – Scenic trek


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Objectives & Methodology

  • Objectives

  • Identify methods to expand the festival

  • Assess the socio-economic benefit

  • Assess how participants enjoyed the festival

  • Methodology

  • Face-to-face visitor survey (122)

  • Follow-up e-survey

  • Stage 1 – Model Development


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Visitor Survey

  • Profile of walkers

  • Reasons for attending

  • Opinions & satisfaction levels

  • Suggestions for improvement

  • What influenced their decision to partake

  • Walkers accommodation & facility needs

  • Level of expenditure/socio economic impact


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Country of residence

Number of respondents = 122


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Age of respondents

Number of respondents = 122


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Party composition

Number of respondents = 122


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Type of accommodation

Number of respondents = 122


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Source of Knowledge of Festival

Number of respondents = 122


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Reason for attending Festival

Number of respondents = 122


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Type of walker

Number of respondents = 122

27% members of walking club or group


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Interest in themed walks

Number of respondents = 122


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Expenditure

Average spend €148.65 per person, 400 walkers = estimated revenue €59,460

*€30 3 day pass, €23 2 day pass, €15 1 day pass




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Facilities required

Number of respondents = 122


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Recommendations

  • Reduce group size – should be divided into smaller groups with quota on group size

  • Provide shower & changing facilities

  • Develop evening entertainment - based in village (restaurants/cafes/ - guides to communicate

  • Improve access - signage & public transport

  • Develop counter system - safety

  • Develop packages

  • Identify USP – scenery, local information, guides, social

  • Expand marketing


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Ballyhoura Walking Festival

  • Ballyhoura Failte walking festival committee

  • 9th year (Early years break even – 2002 - €1,500 profit)

  • 300-400 people – small no. overseas visitors

  • Word-of-mouth, friend or through walking club, mail shots, ad in Walking Ireland

  • Draws people – something different – 1st Marathon (26 miles)

  • Mixture of walks

  • Maintenance of walks – Community Enterprise Schemes – no. of people cut

  • Community work on a voluntary basis to organise festival


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Donegal International Walking Festival

  • 3rd year, 100 walkers staying for 3 days

  • NI visitors 60%, R of I 30%, Scot & Eng 10%

  • Direct marketing from database, along with Ardara, NI newspapers, Walking World Ireland, Flyer, in Outdoor pursuits shop

  • Would like to market more in Scot

  • Need locals for the quality of the festival

  • Quality of the guides – people want local experience (Bluestack Ramblers)

  • Currently breaking even – aim €30-€50 per day

  • Average spend per person €200-€250 (Accomm, festival fee & packed lunch)

  • Walking products tourism potential not recognised

  • Transport costs a big factor


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Funding for Walking Festivals

Regional Tourism Authorities

Festivals and Cultural Events Initiative

Registration fee

Local Sports Partnership

Limited sponsorship – e.g. €35 from B&B’s, local shops,

Outdoor Recreation Shops


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Recommendations for Walking Festivals

Categories of walkers

1. Strollers & recreational walkers

2. Trail walkers/ramblers

3. Hillwalkers

  • NWWAC Recs on walking group numbers

  • Groups kept small.Size depend on profile of walking group, walking terrain, weather conditions & no. of leaders available.

  • Large groups divided into smaller groups. E.g. 100 people divide into 5 groups of 20 walkers with 2 leaders, with departure times at intervals.


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Recommendations for Walking Festivals

  • NWWAC Recs on walking group number/leader ration

  • The more difficult the terrain and walking conditions the lower the ratio.

  • Category 1Strollers & Rec walkers 1 leader : 12 walkers

  • Category 2 Trail Walkers/Ramblers 1 leader : 10 walkers

  • Category 3 Hill walkers 1 leader : 8 walkers


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Recommendations for Walking Festivals

  • NWWAC Recommendations on walk leader qualifications

  • All walk leaders should be properly qualified, familiar with the location, experienced guiding groups in the terrain

  • Category 1 & 2 walks -Walking Group Leader Award

  • Category 3 walks - Mountain Leader qualification

  • Assistant Leaders should have the Mountain Skills Award or Countryside Guiding Award

  • Experience hill-walkers with knowledge of area could also be used as Leaders.

NWWAC Recommendations for tracking people as they return

Leaders take note of names of walkers and count back in


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In Summary

  • Guides are very important – qualified and knowledgeable of local area

  • Draw people – something different

  • Mixture of walks – levels & themes

  • Maintenance of walks an issue

  • Number in group – keep small (safety & impact on landscape, landowners)

  • Social aspect / evening entertainment

  • Package walking festival product – start to finish

  • First couple of years breaking even

  • Potential to target more overseas visitors

  • Economic potential of walking festivals


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Walking Festivals in Ireland

  • Linda Campbell

  • Senior Researcher

  • The Tourism Research Centre,

  • Dublin Institute of Technology

  • November 2003

  • Linda.campbell@dit.ie