A Practical Guide to Assessing Need & Demand for Tourism

Developing a planning proposal for a new tourism development often benefits from being accompanied by a strategic assessment of both local and national needs and demands.

In guidance first established by The Good Practice Guide on Planning for Tourism, it is stated that local planning authorities should maintain a dialogue with representatives of the tourism industry, using their knowledge to support data on tourist trends and habits in the area when considering planning applications.

This means that when developing a proposal of this nature, it’s important to explore all avenues, basing your rationale on sound evidence. This practical guide offers an overview of 4 key areas that should be covered in your assessment of need and demand.

1.  Demographic Data and Statistics

Supporting data is vital when justifying demand for (and effects of) tourism in the immediate area and beyond. Statistics that may be of use include things like how various facets of the tourist industry contribute to the local economy.

Council’s generally have reports produced to support their tourism strategy (such as Global Tourism Solutions) and these are a great way to provide an overview of trends, and these data sets can be used to provide solid rationale for a new development. For example, if the demographic data you source shows that both number of visitors and the amount they are spending on accommodation are increasing, this could lend support to the development of new holiday cottages or guesthouses.

2.  Tourism Policy Context

Next, your assessment should consider your proposed development in relation to tourism policies and goals. These could be local plans or national policies. For example, you could draw upon the National Planning Policy Framework (2019), which encourages the development of additional tourist accommodation within key tourist areas. Local plans vary from region to region, with some having much more structured guidelines than others.

3.  Site Analysis

This section should provide a balanced, objective overview of the proposed development’s strengths and weaknesses. It could explore areas like sustainability, views, closeness to facilities, size of the development or any other notable features. For example, perhaps the development will be accessible to individuals with mobility issues and environmentally friendly (strengths), but won’t be easily reachable via public transport (weakness).

4.  Market (need and demand)

It’s important to ensure you’re considering need and demand in great detail. For example, if for example your proposed development is accessible accommodation for those with reduced mobility, you may draw upon statistics and anecdotes demonstrating a need and demand for these kinds of accommodation. Here, you could highlight emerging trends from independent sources (Visit Britain etc) that indicate the number of individuals with reduced mobility who wish to travel in the UK is increasing.

Within this part of your assessment, it’s also useful to consider need, demand and economic impact on a more local level. For example, you could carefully analyse the number of similar tourist developments in the area, illustrating how your proposed development can fill a remaining gap (or ‘need’).


Related Content

We’ve wrote a few blogs about tourism, take a look at our blog Staycations: Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic which looks at how the pandemic has effected UK Tourism and if you want to know how Tourism and Planning are linked, take a look at our blog about Planning and Tourism: How do they go hand-in-hand?

Developing an assessment of need and demand can be daunting. If you’re feeling unsure on just where to begin, a town planner can help you source relevant evidence and statistics, ensuring you present a clear and robust rationale for your proposed tourism development.

If you’re looking at progressing a planning proposal  for a tourism development take a look at our eBook on the Application Process.

Tourism in the UK