Ordnance Survey (OS) & Outdoor Industries Association (OIA) responsible outdoor activity project gets the green light

The pilot research project is supported by Sport England with National Lottery funding

It has been widely publicised that people have been more active outdoors during lockdown and, with 14 million more staycations booked, a whole new group of people are enjoying the outdoors across the UK this summer. In fact, in the first weekend of easing of lockdown, 64% of visitors to the Lake District[1] were new or visiting for the first time since childhood.

As well as a great opportunity, this has presented challenges – the issues of littering, fire damage and toileting have been widely reported in the media.

A pilot survey managed by Ordnance Survey (OS) and the Outdoor Industries Association (OIA) and supported by Sport England with National Lottery funding, is striving to make the most from the surge in popularity by educating new visitors to the outdoors how to act responsibly.

The survey has three goals:

  • Enable more people to get more active outdoors.
  • Educate and inform visitors to the outdoors about sustainable best practice.
  • Maintain healthy habits long after the return home.

It will be delivered through the OS GetOutside initiative, in partnership with campsites in four key holiday destinations: The Peak District; The Lake District; The New Forest; and the South West.

Campsites already signed up include:

Charles Johnston, Property Director at Sport England said: “We know the outdoors is one of the most popular ways to get active for people, and this trend has continued during lockdown, with more people walking, cycling and running. Campsites are perfect places for families to enjoy being active, so that’s why we’ve funded the GetOutside initiative, funded by National Lottery players, to encourage people to leave their cars behind this summer and establish new healthy habits – to take home with them. With more people than ever before booking a tent for their holiday, it is important to protect both the health of the outdoors and the campers.”

OS Leisure Managing Director Nick Giles said: “It’s been fantastic that so many campers have discovered for the first time, or re-discovered, the joy of the Great British outdoors. It has never been so important for all of us to look after our health and wellbeing by getting outside safely and responsibly and this project is all about reinforcing these positive behaviours. We want people to create memories that last a lifetime and build a legacy for generations to come.”

Outdoor Industries Association (OIA) CEO Andrew Denton said: ‘This is a very exciting project at a crucial time for the outdoors industry. Together, we can encourage Active Travel for both personal and environmental gain; help to build a more robust and resilient nation in the protection against COVID-19; position outdoor activity as a preventative measure rather than a cure; and reopen the outdoor economy – the outdoors is one of the safest places to be right now!’

Campers who book these sites will receive a one-month free access code to try OS Maps at the point of booking. This will allow access to a wealth of quality routes, information, inspiration, and guidance to get active and help them make the most of their stay.

Campers can download, follow, record and share their activity on the app.

At the end of their stay, campers will be encouraged to complete a short survey about their experience. This will be followed by a second survey at the end of September asking how this has helped a shift to longer term healthier lifestyle.

As well as encouraging responsible activity, the project hopes to learn all about the new staycation habits and see what can be done do to help the nation stay safe, and stay healthy in a sustainable way for years to come. It ties in with the GetOutside campaign to improve the nation’s physical, mental and social health and wellbeing; and promoting the positive benefits associated with being active outdoors.

[1] Lake District National Park Authority visitor management survey May 2020