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The Islands’ Partnership has released the results of its biggest Isles of Scilly Visitor Survey yet, which was conducted both online and via on-island surveys throughout the 2016 season. Last year, 2,381 surveys were completed, 95% of them by staying visitors and with the overall sample representing up to 10% of all visitors.

Once again Scenery, Peace & Quiet, Beaches and Wildlife remained the overwhelming motivators for visitors opting to holiday on Scilly. The general atmosphere, sense of welcome and customer service found amongst accommodation providers scored highest for visitor satisfaction, whilst the value of food & drink, quality of shops, range and quality of evening entertainment, and range and quality of groceries scored lowest.

For the second year running, 67% of visitors to Scilly were aged more than 45 years old, a proportion that has increased by 10% in the last three years. More than 40% of all visitors were from the southwest region of the UK, with at least 20% of visitors having Cornwall and Devon postcodes.

The survey findings have revealed a continued loyalty to Scilly with 70% of repeat visitors. First time visitors in 2016 accounted for 30% of the total number, mirroring the 30% of first-time visitors in 2015 and up from the 26% who were new to Scilly in 2014. Of the first time visitors in the last two yeas, 60% opt to come to Scilly for a short break, of between 2 and 4 nights. 65% of the survey respondents said that star ratings in making their accommodation choices were important or very important, an increase from 59% in 2015.

Only 29% of visitors booked accommodation online last year, a number that would have been higher had they been able to. Demand for the ability to research holidays and in particular to book online has increased steadily in the last couple of years. In 2016, 47% of respondents said that they would have booked their holiday on line had they been able to (29% did), an increase from 41% in 2015. 62% of visitors last year, and in 2015, found the website a useful source of information when booking their holiday.

“The 2016 Isles of Scilly Visitor Survey was our most comprehensive to date, and with 95% of those who completed it being staying visitors, it has given us a meaningful, qualitative insight on overall trends as well as visitor behaviour and satisfaction levels amongst visitors to the islands,” says Islands’ Partnership Executive Director, David Jackson. “With three years of visitor surveys behind us, we are much better able to build a complete picture of, and respond to, the needs and habits of our visitors. It is important that understand our visitor profile and their experiences so that local businesses and the Islands’ Partnership can align services to their needs and expectations and support product development that will help to enhance and grow the visitor economy.

“Already, thanks to the help of some DEFRA funding, we are introducing a new Food & Drink marque for Scilly this season which will help the islands’ producers and eateries to highlight Scilly’s distinctive food offering, and also engage visitors in the unique value and variety of our local produce,” he adds. “The Isles of Scilly is also set to benefit from major new investment into its cultural tourism offer after a successful bid by the Islands’ Partnership to Arts Council England’s national Cultural Destinations fund. The two-year project will bring to life Scilly’s rich and distinctive cultural heritage offer to attract new visitors to the islands. It will see the development of a range of new visitor experiences including discovery trails, events and cultural short break packages. And additionally, the Islands’ Partnership is set to embark on a project to enable businesses, and in particular accommodation providers, across the islands to take bookings online – something that is getting increasingly important for our visitors.” The 2016 Visitor Survey was conducted by the Islands’ Partnership in association with The South West Research Company.

The full 2016 Survey Report can be found in the members' area of the IP website, under "Reports, Surveys & Business Matters".