Survey Reveals How Much Visitors Love Scilly

hugh town from porthlooVisitors to Scilly are very satisfied with their holiday choice and they love the scenery, the food and their accommodation.

They find transport here to be value for money, and, perhaps more importantly, most tourists would recommend the islands to a friend and would return.

These are some of the encouraging results of a written survey, arranged by the AONB and filled in by 452 visitors last summer.

Many other areas of the country could be envious of the degree of satisfaction that Scilly visitors felt in choosing the islands.

80% of respondents said their overall holiday experience was excellent, 17% described their break as good and just one visitor rated Scilly as poor.

Food and drink was good or excellent and the same positive responses were offered on accommodation and St Mary’s transport services.

The islands’ scenery and wildlife are the main drivers for visitors. Most people find all the islands tranquil and don’t feel that there is an issue with light pollution. Building awareness of its impact has been an AONB campaign recently.

150 of the respondents learned about Scilly from recommendation and 52 people discovered the islands online. Just 19 people learned about Scilly from the tourist brochure, but the guide proved more of a tool in booking a place to stay.

94 of the people surveyed used the brochure to find accommodation and 148 of them used the internet.

Around two thirds of people have visited at least twice and the majority of those have been here over five times. One respondent claimed to have visited 135 times!

The majority of visitors fly over and visit in groups of two, for one week, and choose self catering breaks.

They mainly come from the South West, South East and the Midlands and drive to their flight. Most would return in the peak summer months with spring being the second most popular season.

St Mary’s and Tresco were the top two accommodation destinations with 355 and 161 respondents staying there, respectively. 29 people respondents stayed at St Martin’s, 19 on St Agnes and 17 on Bryher.

The findings challenge commonly held beliefs that the cost of travel to Scilly is an issue for the majority of visitors. 46 people felt that the travel services offered excellent value for money, 147 thought it was good and 83 felt it was fair. 63 visitors believed it was poor.

Julian Pearce from the islands’ TIC described the survey as encouraging. He said there sometimes seem to be a focus on the negative things, but the feedback from the respondents does show that we have an excellent product and there is much to celebrate.

But he added that this shouldn’t be seen as a reason for complacency but rather a ‘call to arms’ to make sure that those visitors do return and do recommend the islands to friends and relatives.

As with all surveys, Julian says, there needs to be a note of caution, in that they are only a snapshot in time and obviously only reflect those opinions of the people that completed the form and more value comes from comparing the surveys year on year.

The AONB are hoping to get wider distribution for 2013 and accommodation providers or businesses can get copies from the TIC.



27 Responses to Survey Reveals How Much Visitors Love Scilly

  1. Adam Morton,St.Martins February 28, 2013 at 9:53 am

    I ask that as many as possible of you direct your comments to the new tourism partnership who in my view do not even accept there is a problem and continue to play with marketing rather than listen to providers or visitors. I run a tourism based business and I do my very best to see that my prices only reflect the 20-30% extra in freight over and above the mainland ,if that! I and many in the catering industry here have been unable to raise prices for at least the last four years irrispective of freight increases and inflation to such a point that two major busineses on the island have now closed/bankrupted.I see hotels on St.Marys offering B&B for less than you can get in a guest house for in Penzance! Yet still we are told its just a case of upping the standards and charging more and then marketing it.

  2. Ell February 27, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    Pat. Don’t feel sorry for us! This year we have booked 2 weeks in the Greek Islands, 2 weeks in Cyprus and 1 week in Jersey, all for what it would cost us on our usual 3 weeks in Scilly. Unfortunately, the money we would usually spend on meals out, trips, and souvenirs etc. will be spent abroad and the kids will see other cultures in the sun. This is the only thing to be sorry about! I’m sure hoteliers and owners on Scilly will eventually see sense and lower their rates (especially if, as I think, numbers decrease). I just hope that the boatmen and traders on Scilly do not lose out too much, as in the present climate it could get very hard to keep businesses going if the Islands don’t get the numbers of visitors and I fear that this is the course that’s been set. I hope to return again if prices do return to what I consider reasonable. Hopefully, the Islands will see their problems and act before too much damage is done. As has been said on this forum before it’s much better to have many people paying less than a few paying more (it will keep the boatmen and traders earning.

  3. steveatt February 27, 2013 at 10:15 am

    Pat – I got a matress delivered from a shop 2.5 miles away and got charged £55

  4. pat hicks February 27, 2013 at 12:16 am

    Ell . i am sorry you think the accomadation over here is expensive, i have been away to cornwall for 10 ten days and stayed in a self catering place , it was very nice but comparing prices
    i found we are in line pretty much with the mainland.. dont forget it cost us alot more to get stuff over here, frieght etc. i got a new sofa and to have it delivered cost me £85 in charges.

  5. Arthur February 26, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    If the problem is cost and cost alone, I can only imagine it boils down to three things. Getting here, staying here and enjoying yourself while you are here. Surely the most important of these is getting here, everything comes second to that. So why don’t the Steamship company halve the cost of boat tickets, and triple or quadruple the amount of people coming in. It might take a year or two to build up to that level, but once they’re on the ship you can sell them stuff, food, souvenirs etc on top of the increased footfall. The boat’s coming anyway, so why not fill the thing with people who will keep coming back and if the economic climate improves they’ll come back in the future on Skybus.

    Accomodation needs to be sensibly priced and if it is expensive, value for money, the same goes for food and boat trips, just be sensible, make your money but don’t fleece the visitors. There is plenty of free stuff here (Beaches, swimming, walks) so lets encourage people to spend a little and start growing the island economy again after we appear to have killed it off.

  6. J February 26, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    As interesting as the survey comments are, it is equally interesting how deeply this article has been hidden from regular Scilly Today browsers. A fellow browser advised me to read it and I am amazed at what I have seen. My husband and I have been Scilly visitors for years but every year we have to look at the cost, to decide if we can go again. We noticed last year how many normally year round occupied properties were vacant and already this year, we have received many emails showing the cancellations happening across the season. There is only one reason for this and that is price. There is also only one reason the Scilly property owners are still able to rent and that is that Scilly is an amazing place. It is this one thing that keeps us idiots coming back for more year on year. But watch out, one day they’ll go too far. For instance some friends just got back. 4 days on Scilly =£1500 per couple. One week all inclusive on Cyprus = £300

  7. Ell February 26, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    Like most of the people on this page I don’t have faith in the survey. Having visited Scilly yearly, for over 25 years, I have had to admit defeat and have booked two holidays abroad for the price I would have to pay now to visit Scilly once. It amazes me that the people in charge are so blinkered and I agree that, although it should be subsidised, the travel is too expensive and accommodation prices should be much lower to win back ‘regulars’ who cannot visit because of price.

  8. Former Very Regular Visitor February 25, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    I first visited Scilly in 1985 and have since been back about 55 times (but not since 2007) many of my visits have been weekends/short breaks with the odd week or two week holiday, even though it is an 800 mile round trip from my house to Penzance I always thought it was worth it, many visits were with my wife who equally loves Scilly, the only reason we dont visit anymore is COST and COST only, I find it very hard to believe so many people think travel and accomodation costs are reasonable, I really think a survey of ex-visitors would be far more revealing, surveying visitors already on the islands seems pretty one sided to me ! I totally agree with an earlier comment re being much better to have more people but paying less, more visitors will spend more once on the islands. I have many friends and several family who
    also no longer visit, purely down to COST, PLEASE, PLEASE try everything you can to keep Scilly special by encouraging us moaning ex-visitors back.

  9. Raggett February 25, 2013 at 12:30 am

    Bill,
    Yes they do, are you so naive as to believe that hoteliers anywhere else in the world don’t have to pay for these things?

  10. Off islander February 24, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Gromit I agree with you totally (esp. regarding light pollution – St Marys and Tresco particularly take note). And Scilly Visitor – there are lots of big cities like New York, and Greek islands etc also, to visit, but very few places as unspoilt as Scilly. We need to make sure that it stays that way: greed, overdevelopment and vanity building projects won’t help us.

  11. Bill Hiner February 24, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    You can’t compare foreign holidays with Scilly on many counts!

    Accommodation providers over here have to pay high:

    Council tax/Business rates
    Water rates (metered)
    Delivery charges for food offered at breakfast
    Utilitiy bills
    Advertising charges
    Business upgrading such as decorating costs, linen etc etc
    Staff pay
    Public Liability insurance
    Etc etc etc

    Do “foreign venues have the same high charges as us in the UK?

  12. Clive February 24, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Although the survey brings with it potentially good news for tourism on the islands, ultimately the proof will be in the pudding. If protocols do not change and the numbers decline, action must surely be taken upon those who offer and work in the trade. If the numbers show to be on par or more from previous years then brilliant! But complacency shouldn’t prevail, the work still needs to be executed to continue with the good results and to fix problems that have been noted by the tourists.

  13. Andy February 24, 2013 at 7:16 am

    This is very simple look at the cost of getting there and compare it with where else the money will take you.
    One way steam ship to scilly or most places in europe on a plane .

    Its crazy how expensive the travel is not to mention the parking or train fare, will this help the island economy ?

    But I love the place I just dont like being taken for granted.

  14. IOS fan February 23, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    I would have happily filled in a survey form but never saw one. We have visited the Scillies a number of times over the years but were totally gobsmacked by the cost of getting there in 2012! It was a very special holiday and as such I couldn’t squeak too loudly but I cant see how we could finance that again in the near future – our travel costs far exceeded the cost of the accomodation. I have seen a comment somewhere querying about a ‘fast cat’ – surely this would be an alternative to the demise of the helicopter service that could be well used ?- especially if it started in the morning from St Mary’s giving islanders the opportunity to get to the mainland early for hospital appointments etc. and a chance of getting back on the same day – just a thought.

  15. scilly visitor February 23, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Travel Exeter to Tresco with Skybus £240

    Travel Bristol to New York with Aer Lingus £249

    Of course it has always been expensive to get to Scilly, but it will not be long before it has priced itself out of the market for all but the very rich

  16. Benny-55 February 23, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    I feel this survey is the opposite to what is actually happening in Scilly. For several months the comments on ‘Scilly Today’ have been showing that tourists are stopping their visits to Scilly because of the pricing of transport and accommodation being too high. They are not one-off tourists but visitors who have been going to the islands for 20, 30 years or more. Holidays abroad are now much cheaper than Scilly and flying abroad is cheaper than the 28 miles to Scilly. It was pointed out by a few ‘ex-visitors’ that a monopoly of transport would work against Scilly as prices would increase and this is, I feel, being proved. I feel sorry for the inhabitants of these lovely islands as they will all be the losers as well as the tourists who have decided to visit islands abroad because they are so much cheaper. We can no longer afford the travel and accommodation after 20 years of holidays (Greek islands are so much cheaper). The islands need to be subsidised and the local ‘hosts’ need to lower their pricing to get back the people who were loyal to them for so long. You can only push people so far before they rebel and this is obviously what is happening on a large scale if you look at the amounts of tourists having to stop their holidays in Scilly. Greed will destroy the islands if it is left unharnessed. Act now! It is much better to have 50 people paying £100 than 10 people paying £200. Numbers of tourists count. We love Scilly and the inhabitants but complacency at the top has made it too expensive in several areas. I would question the validity of the survey as I know several families who are now holidaying elsewhere because of price.

  17. Ian T February 23, 2013 at 8:43 am

    The survey said most people drive which is probably the best option if you don’t live near the direct railway connections. In recent year we have traveled by train from Totnes to Penzance as, with a Senior Rail Card this can cost less than £10.00 each return. Add on the heliport shuttle and the total for two people can be no more than £30.00. Ten days car parking (£70.00), 25 litres of petrol (we have a small car) plus wear and tear add upto near on £100.00.
    With the demise of BIH we shall have to fly with Skybus but with the vagaries of Lands End, Newquay is the only sensible option. Using the boat is not an option if you travel by train unless you stay overnight in Penzance. But… the train service from Newquay to Par is infrequent and Skybus flights don’t tally up with the trains resulting in long waits.
    So, what are we to do this year? Use the car? Car parking at Newquay Airport is currently £7.50 a day.
    We are only occasional visitors now – two or three times a year but we are ‘visitors’. Islanders must be really concerned about the cost and difficulty of travel.

  18. Steve February 22, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    I’ve spent a good deal of my career analysing surveys of this kind so feel qualified to offer a few comments.
    Firstly, the sample size. Generally speaking, surveys with EITHER a 10% response rate OR a sample size of over 200 will deliver statistically significant results. (The fact that an individual may personally hold views which are not reported in the survey because they were not asked to complete it does not, therefore, invalidate the survey as – statistically – others with similar views are likely to have responded)
    Secondly, type of visitors surveyed. Respondents may have been asked to specify their length of stay but we do not have the information here. It may be, therefore, that day trippers think the day return fair on the Scillonian is great value (I’d agree) but those staying for a longer period may find travel costs less good value (I’d also agree!)
    Thirdly, strength of response. It appears that the survey used a four point scale of response (eg Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor). I would want to see some analysis of the strength of response for each question. For example, it’s not enough to say that only x% viewed something as “poor”. It would be far more meaningful to produce a numeric score by weighting each answer according to strength of response, eg “Excellent” responses score 4, “Good” 3, “Fair” 2 and “Poor” 1. The sum total of scores is then divided by the number of responses to provide an average score for each question. Questions can then be ranked which enables strengths and weaknesses to be identified. I suspect that this type of analysis would show that perceptions of travel are a major problem (particularly amongst those staying for more than a day).
    I’m sure that those responsible for promoting tourism on the Islands are perfectly well qualified to (a) analyse the data and (b) develop appropriate strategies to deal with any problems arising from the findings. At the expense of being accused of being an anourak I’d love to get my hands on the raw data though……

  19. Raggett February 22, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Too true, I have relatives who would like to visit now and again but can no longer afford to do so, they cannot justify the cost of getting here against the cost of going to Spain, Corfu of Greece. for a similar period holiday.

  20. Duncan Cooper February 22, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    If 452 people filled in a survey……

    What happened to the other 113 peoples answer when it came to the cost of transport?

    In my day 46 + 147 + 83 + 63 = 339 ??

    As a regular tourist to the Scillys i would have to echo al’s post in that the cost of getting there wopuld never really put me off but for me it is not in any way shape or form “reasonable”

    Not that i hold the shipping company or local council responsible for this ….. the route should be government subsidised.

  21. Tracey February 22, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    They certainly DIDN’T interview me!
    Where did this ‘survey group’ come from?
    Transport costs are getting to be totally ridiculous! C’mon people… wake up.
    AND… let’s face it, it’s not as though you know when you’re
    flight is… you pick a day and you might get over depending on rain, wind or fog but you had better have a few pounds in your back pocket to cover those little ‘incidentals’ of hotels etc… after all, you will now be at the back of the queue!
    BTW, the lack of food choice in the co-op drives me insane and there doesn’t seem to be any reasonable explanation as to why this is… I don’t know how Islanders cope!
    I love the Islands with all my heart and if I didn’t have family there I doubt I would visit… it is so sad that I feel like this, and most of it has been caused by past transport issues.

  22. Alex Peal February 22, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    Interesting survey but you can’t conclude that transport costs are not an issue by asking people who have already travelled. What about all the people who do not visit because of the cost.

    It also takes no account of the people who would have visited for a long weekend but can’t because of the transport arrangements.

  23. Gromit February 22, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    I live in the Bristol area and have visited Scilly several times over the years. Last year stayed on Bryher for the first time. I prefer to stay on off-islands but wouldn’t miss a day or two on St Mary’s. I didn’t complete the survey but would have been happy to do so.

    I’d echo the main points: Scenery, wildlife and tranquillity are up there, but better and many equal can be found elsewhere in UK – I’ve tried them. So why is it ONLY Scilly that keeps me coming back? I’m not a bird watcher, but I enjoy it when it’s easy. I’m not a serious photographer, but get interested when my photos are great. I’m not an adventurer, but travel to and between the islands makes me feel like one (so I’ll pay a fair price for it).

    Scilly is blessed with some fantastic natural resources, but what pushes it to the top for me, makes me come back time after time, and recommend it to others, is the really special and varied experience that Scilly can provide without having to put too much effort in. So why is this?

    Well, I think it’s primarily in the hands of the people living in the islands and operating the services that visitors need. Give visitors a good place to stay, caring hosts, good food, reliable transport, good company and a reasonable range of activities to choose from and leave the rest to Scilly. Then the visitor can choose what kind of day it’s going to be: tranquil or exciting, Great Bay or Hell Bay, butterflies or gannets; Museum or Bishop. Wow – I wish I had another holiday booked right now!

    If left alone the natural resources look after themselves, but visitor services don’t.

    Please take great care of the natural resources but don’t rely on them (e.g. work hard to keep light pollution low – don’t lose it and visitors will come for it – it never gets dark up my way); support the off-island communities (I’d happily stay on St Mary’s, but without day trips to off-islands made easy and enjoyable by what’s provided there it would no longer be my first choice for a holiday); think very, very hard about options for Scillonian replacement – I think it’s great – just like the 50’s – but the average visitor nowadays wants comfort, speed and stability – they get enough salt and excitement between the islands and can get off before their breakfast does.

  24. Chris Peat February 22, 2013 at 11:52 am

    The really important opinions would come from those visitors who didn’t come after making enquiries.

  25. Fran Grottick February 22, 2013 at 10:09 am

    While it is good to hear that the majority of 452 people
    who answered the survey were happy with their holiday
    experience,& thought travel costs value for money,
    this is only a small percentage of visitors.
    I suggest that we cannot be complacent.
    These findings cannot be used to challenge the commonly
    held belief that the cost of travel to the Islands is a significant
    issue for most visitors, indeed , as all who work in Tourism know,
    it is mentioned all the time.
    Visitor numbers are dropping, and for some who have not
    visited or revisited, those travel costs were an important part of
    that decision, and one we ignore at our peril.

  26. al February 22, 2013 at 8:56 am

    Seems like they ended up interviewing visitors like me who’d come to Scilly at virtually any cost. They should really have considered those looking online or at glossy brochures comparing costs of travel to Corfu or elsewhere. I think concerns made on Scilly Today about transport are closer to the mark. And regarding light pollution, they clearly didn’t interview visitors who walk between Hugh Town and Old Town in the evening, blinded by the unnecessary blaze of lights at the new school. Hope Porthcressa hasn’t gone the same way!