Walking is the main reason people visit the Yorkshire Dales National Park, according to the results of a new survey.
But the majority prefer to use a car rather than public transport to travel around.
The survey, commissioned by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) involved interviewing 513 people in Bolton Abbey, Horton-in-Ribblesdale and Grassington.
It showed that the majority (59 per cent) were on a day visit compared with quarter who were on a short break of four nights and under and 16 per cent who were on a longer holiday (more than four nights). And 60 per cent had been before.
Wilf Fenten, the Authority’s Member Champion for Promoting Understanding, said: “It is always good to have some hard facts, rather than just rely on anecdotal evidence.
“Whilst the National Park Authority has been doing excellent work, we are still not achieving a high enough number of people who leave their car behind.
“In view of the damage cars do to the environment and our efforts to reduce all carbon footprints, we must find ways of persuading people to switch from car to train or bus.
“Together with service and accommodation providers, we must also find ways of encouraging visitors to stay longer. But, all in all, it is looking good.”
Catherine Kemp, the YDNPA’s Outreach Officer, said: “Many areas have shown marked improvement since the first survey in 2004 but this new survey will help us direct our promotion more effectively to encourage wider range of visitors.
“For example, the low use of public transport means there are still opportunities for us to improve provision and to encourage people to leave their cars at home or, if they haven’t got one, to help them realise it is quite easy to get to the National Park by bus or train.
“The survey showed that walking appeared to be more popular with those from higher income groups and was the main reason people came to the National Park – so there are opportunities to encourage lower income groups to go for walks and to try to develop a broader range of other activities that may interest current non-visitors.
“The survey also showed that the vast majority of those questioned were repeat visitors, so we the need to investigate ways to encourage more first-time visitors.”
The majority of visitors (94 per cent) were aware that the Yorkshire Dales had a National Park and 93 per cent stated that they were aware they were in it – and 75 per cent wanted to visit the National Park more often..
The countryside and the scenery were the main features that made the National Park a special place for most visitors, while others said it was the fact it was peaceful, tranquil or unpopulated.