Dartmoor and its positive impact on tourism

dartmoor impact on tourism

Hotels and Hospitality lead, Mike Easton takes a look at the Dartmoor National Park and its positive impact on South West Tourism.

Covering 368 square miles of Devon, the National Park is dramatic, mysterious, challenging, and beautiful in equal measure and along with the coastline of the county provides significant interest for the resident population and visitors alike. It draws in locals from the villages, towns and cities dotted around its boundaries. With easy access to the moor from Exeter and Plymouth, you would be hard pressed not to have visited one of its many natural attractions over the years.

Dartmoor and its positive impact on tourism

So what of the pubs, cafes and hotels within the park itself? How do they run their businesses in what many in the sector would consider remote destinations, and what are their challenges and opportunities?

The last reported resident population for Dartmoor was 34,500 and the first point to make is that in a time of second homes and dark winter villages in a number of coastal locations across the South West, Dartmoor itself has remained comparatively protected from holiday home ownership. The moorland communities, small and large, are predominantly owner occupied and many are thriving. This is of course a great help to the guest houses, Inns, and hotels across the National Park and with an additional layer of positive planning support, their continued use is better protected then elsewhere in the county.

In tandem, these protections extend to any new buildings, whether commercial or residential, which can be seen as a protection for the existing businesses and their growth. In the food and drink sector, the hungry explorer has many options to choose from, all working on the basis that despite ever-changing weather there are always customers looking to enjoy the Moor. Business owners accept that there will be income fluctuations month to month, but the trading season is extended as day trippers in the warmer months are replaced with activity seekers in the cooler shoulder periods.

Whatever the weather, who doesn’t enjoy driving/cycling out to enjoy a pint, coffee or cream tea or meal with the journey itself a cause for celebration at the natural beauty of Dartmoor.

So what of market activity for those who wish to sell and what are the requirements of those looking to buy?

As with most things, we have a broad range of applicants, some wanting to be in high footfall areas and town locations, others wanting to buy something within a 20 miles radius of where they live and work already, whilst another group specifically want locations such as Dartmoor or costal locations. The latter group are broadly made up of applicants where the location is the key driving factor, motivated more by the place they want to live in rather than the current financial success of an existing business.  The South West has always been a draw to people looking to make the best of the coast and moor, because of personal associations with those areas. As such Dartmoor is very much a location-first scenario, with buyers having already decided where they want to be and are more open as to whether the business they buy is a café, a pub or a hotel.

For sellers this can be a distinct advantage.

In recent months we have successfully completed on three agency commissions on Dartmoor. The first was for a parish owned asset, The Royal Oak at Meavy, where we ran a tenant search. The successful applicants have existing ties to the village, and the locals are delighted that the pub has remained open and thriving.  The second was a sale of the historic Drewe Arms in Drewsteignton, which resulted in the local community coming together and crowd funding the purchase for the pub., previously brewery owned for generations. This month saw the completion of the White Hart Hotel at Moretonhampstead, where the new owners, who previously owned and ran another moorland venue further West, have taken the reins. In each case it was the venue that took precedent rather than the existing (or not) business.

With a team of specialists including building surveyors, valuers and agency services, each with great experience of Moorland venues, our Leisure team continue to provide services across the National Parks and always enjoy the journey.

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