Tourism has its 'green' credentials, there are many accolades available to accommodation providers such as the GTBS and Green Acorn, but one aspect of tourism sits very uncomfortably as the elephant in the room - the fuel that every visitor uses driving to and from and around Cornwall. If Cornwall is to be the green peninsula then it must take this bull elephant by the tusks and do something to not only reduce it but also ensure that the reduction is an ongoing process.
How much fuel?
At an average of 40 mpg and an average 250 miles driven while in Cornwall, visitors would use approximately this much fuel...
- Newcastle 130 Litres
- Liverpool = 110 Litres
- Birmingham = 90 litres
- Glasgow = 150 Litres
- London 100 Litres
Vehicle that only average 30 mpg would increase the above figures by 25%: 20 mpg would of course double the figure.
We don't know what the average drive distance is for our visitors, after all some are only coming from Devon, but others as far as Aberdeen.
What we can conclude is that no matter what the average is per individual car it is going to be multiplied by the number of visitors who come by car - which is in the millions.
Approximately 92% of Cornwall's guests are from the UK, 22% from the South West of Britain. Most are arriving by car.
A genuine claim to being a green peninsula must address the fact that four million visitors by car using an average total of 70 Litres of fuel equates to 200 million litres of fuel each and every year. That is about 8400 petrol tanker lorries, which if you queued them end to end from where the A30 crosses the border at Launceston they would reach all the way to Penzance.
Saying to visitors, leave your car at home and come by public transport is not going to make a substantial impact on the above figures. Cornwall's public transport system is a disjointed assembly built up over time to best match the needs of the residents more than the visitors and Cornwall's elongated geographic shape means that east/west services far outstrip those running north to south.
To get from Tresillian, just outside Truro, to Newquay 14 miles away, usually involves three buses and takes well over an hour.
There is the stigma that buses are for old people and teenagers: trains have perceived negatives that may not apply to the Cornish service but many of our visitors from cities may well see trains as an unreliable and often over-crowded and therefore uncomfortable method of travel.
We need to rebrand public transport in Cornwall for the visitor and if we can persuade them to use it we also need to help them use it to their best advantage. It needs to be remarketed as a new alternative, not because it has less impact on the environment but because it opens up a whole new world and allows you to experience Cornwall from a totally different perspective.
We can lay out the public transport route maps on the table and we can, with a little planning, create synchronised routes between destinations and present these to the visitor. But if we're to really sell it to them we need to focus on what experiences we can provide for them both at the destination and en-route. As the Zen saying goes, its not about reaching the destination, its about experiencing the journey.
We should be aiming to create a new market appeal that focuses as much on the journey as it does the destination.
We should look at our bus stops and train stops and scrutinise what we have at each point that could be marketed at the traveler who steps off there. We may not have an Eden Project at every bus stop but what about local pubs? Restaurants? BnBs who also offer lunch or one step further provides food to go such as packed lunches; local cycle hire to explore the area?