Skip to main content

Sustainable transport in rural tourism: a social practice perspective of visitor travel experiences in the New Forest National Park.

Smith, A., 2019. Sustainable transport in rural tourism: a social practice perspective of visitor travel experiences in the New Forest National Park. Doctoral Thesis (Doctoral). Bournemouth University.

Full text available as:

SMITH, Angela Valerie_Ph.D._2019.pdf



National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are the foci for rural tourism in the UK and it is the statutory requirement of authorities to promote ‘opportunities for understanding and enjoyment’ of these areas. Yet the scale of visitation and the reliance on the private car for access conflicts not only with the overriding conservation purposes of these areas and wider sustainability objectives, but also detracts from the rural tourism experience that is sought. Sustainable transport initiatives have been developed which reflect existing knowledge of transport use in this context, in particular the role of transport in forming part of the overall leisure experience. However, appraisal of schemes typically draws upon methodologies and understanding from utilitarian contexts with a failure to acknowledge the distinction between travelling as an activity and travelling to reach a destination. Furthermore, the significance of localised transport impacts on these special and fragile landscapes is not fully taken into account. The aim of this research is to examine how transport provision to support rural tourism can meet sustainability objectives whilst fulfilling the legislative purposes of these protected areas. This study uses the New Forest National Park as a case study area to examine how visitors use transport to reach and travel around the area to develop a framework for the appraisal of transport provision in rural tourism areas. This is achieved by taking a social practices perspective to develop a comprehensive and contextualised understanding of how visitors use transport within the setting of the New Forest. The study included the development of a refined visitor survey which quantified multi-modal transport use amongst visitors, alongside observations and semi-structured interviews undertaken with visitors in situ. The findings of these methods are combined to identify how transport is used within rural tourism visiting practices and how this varies according to visitor characteristics. The use of a social practices lens is used to reveal the elements of visiting practices associated with transport use based upon the 3-elements model (Shove et al 2012) thereby accounting for transport use beyond the physical use of infrastructure, providing for an understanding of the meanings and motivations that visitors attribute to their visit and how their use of transport sits within these. It also addresses the role of competences in defining how visitors are able to use transport in this context. The study concludes that transport use within rural tourism visiting practices is firstly differentiated on a spatial and temporal basis with staying and day visitors having access to varying transport opportunities, with further differences between those staying visitors whose accommodation is situated within the rural destination area and those making excursions from accommodation bases elsewhere. Further variation in how transport is used exists within these prevailing practices with respect to the age-structure and composition of the visiting group. Whilst overlap exists between each of these three practices, they present different advantages and challenges when seeking to modify transport provision to meet sustainability objectives. The study develops an alternative approach to the appraisal of transport provision which focuses on the availability of competences within visiting groups to assess the extent that more sustainable transport use can be incorporated into visiting practices using examples from the New Forest. The adoption of the social practices lens has revealed the relationship between the elements of practice emphasising the limitations of transport initiatives which address individual elements in isolation as opposed to the whole practice. The research provides an empirical application of a social practices’ perspective on a protracted transport problem.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information:If you feel that this work infringes your copyright please contact the BURO Manager.
Uncontrolled Keywords:rural tourism; sustainable travel; social practices; national parks; rural transport; mixed methods research; participant observation
Group:Bournemouth University Business School
ID Code:33156
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:20 Dec 2019 10:08
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:19


Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...
Repository Staff Only -