The Outdoor Industries Association (OIA) and the Sport and Recreation Alliance hosted an event to discuss the development of a strategy on outdoor recreation.
During the discussion, Helen Grant MP, Minister for Sport and Tourism, spoke about the need to champion the sector with a national strategy, designed to support the UK’s favourite pastime of getting active outdoors. She noted the need to coordinate the work of ministers across a number of departments to develop more ways to encourage people to get outdoors for the benefit of their health and the economy.
In 2013, the Sport and Recreation Alliance published Reconomics, which found that 42.4 million adults in England visited the natural environment that year, generating a visitor spend of £27 billion. Any future work will build on these findings to ensure that the UK is making the most of the great outdoors.
The Minister has asked both of the organisations to set up a working group to develop a future strategy; areas included could be: making the outdoors accessible to all, protecting our nation’s natural assets through planning and regulation, placing outdoor recreation at the heart of health strategies, ensuring children and young people have the opportunity to experience the outdoors as part of and outside of the curriculum, as well as promoting outdoor education as a crucial part of a child’s learning.
Andrew Denton, chief executive of the OIA, added: “The OIA is incredibly pleased to be involved in this project with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Sport and Recreation Alliance. Being asked to co-chair the working group that develops a National Strategy for Outdoor Recreation means we can bring the experience of our 200 members from across the sector to bear, and get really broad buy in from the start in all areas.
“We are convinced that understanding the sector, defining it and exploring ways to support it are all potential outcomes. If that leads to a healthier outdoor recreation sector, then it will in turn lead to a healthier Britain.”
Speaking at the event, Sport and Recreation Alliance chief executive, Emma Boggis, said: “Outdoor recreation is the UK’s favourite pastime, and so it is integral to the health of our nation. We are pleased with the work being done with DCMS and the OIA to explore how we can get more people active outdoors. A National Strategy for Outdoor Recreation will need to continue to build on the sector’s success and develop even more ways to encourage people to get outdoors for the benefit of their health and well-being.”
Helen Grant said: “Outdoor recreation can play a big role to boost the nation’s health and well-being, and I am committed to championing this sector. I want more people to take advantage of Britain’s great outdoors – whether that is running in the local park or treetop trekking.”