Economic benefits

Walkers in the countryside contribute to the rural economy

  • Walkers in the English countryside spend around £6.14billion a year, generating income in excess of £2billion and supporting up to 245,000 full time jobs
  • In 2008, people in Scotland took over 384million recreation trips to the outdoors, spending £2.8billion. Almost 80% had come to walk
  • Walking tourism in rural and coastal Wales contributes over £550million to the economy

Popular walking routes are major assets to the tourist industry

  • The South West Coast Path, generates £307million a year for the economy of the region, supporting over 7,500 jobs but costs only £500,000 a year to maintain
  • The West Highland Way, Scotland’s most popular official long distance route, attracts 75,000 visitors a year, generating £3.5million and supporting around 200 local businesses
  • The proposed English coastal path will generate £2,572million per year for the local economies and support 100,000 full time jobs

Walking brings economic benefits to town and city centres

People on foot tend to linger longer and spend more. Walking and cycling routes gives benefit to cost ratios of 20:1, compared to road and rail schemes' typical 3:1 ratio.

More people walking could bring vast savings to the nation’s health bill

  • Physical inactivity currently costs the NHS in England between £1billion and £1.8billion a year, and around £8.3billion to the wider economy in sick days and premature deaths
  • Obesity alone already costs the economy £16billion annually - if current trends continue, this may rise to £50billion by 2050

For a comprehensive summary of the benefits of walking, complete with full references, download our Benefits of Walking factsheet.