The visitor diver trail on the protected wreck of the Coronation in Plymouth Sound in Devon has proved to be very successful in attracting a large number of visiting divers every year since its inception. Nearly 1000 divers visited the wreck of the Coronation during 2012. This study will ask those people that have visited the protected wreck about their experience and focus specifically on the economic spend of their visit and thereby illustrate the value of the visitor trail to the local economy of Plymouth.
Over the last 10 years English Heritage has supported the establishment of several visitor trails on several wreck sites designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973, including on HMS Hazardous, HMS Colossus (Camidge 2009), HMS Pomone (HWTMA 2005) the Norman’s Bay Wreck (NAS 2011) and the Coronation. These visitor trails have all aimed to facilitate and thereby increase public access to heritage assets on the seabed. Naturally many lessons have been learnt by each trail and some have been more successful than others in terms of annual visitor numbers.
The economic value of heritage is clearly an important topic in the current period of global economic stress. Two conferences in the UK have looked at the economic value of heritage in 2012. One event to be held in October 2012 in Cardiff organised by the Maritime Heritage Trust Wales is titled “Maritime Heritage, Economic Development and Regeneration”. The second held in September 2012 at The Institute of Archaeology (University College London) on “Archaeology and Economic Development” provided an insight into the state of the art, in both theory and practice, for pursuing economic development goals utilising archaeological and heritage assets.
The economic value of underwater heritage has also recently been an important topic for discussion by The Scientific and Technical Advisory Body (STAB) to the Meeting of States Parties to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. At a meeting in Paris in April 2012 the STAB recommended to “propose models for managing underwater cultural heritage in a way that brings benefits for the sustainable economic development of regions” as well as to “to increase the positive image of underwater archaeology and the involvement of the public in the awareness, the protection and enjoyment of the underwater cultural heritage”.
The research aim of the project is to put a value to the local economy of the diver trail on the designated wreck site of the Coronation in Plymouth.
The objectives of the project are:
• To determine how many people annually visit the wreck of the Coronation and other diver trails established on Protected Wrecks protected by the Protection of Wrecks Act (1973)
• To determine the items that people spend money on during their visit to Plymouth
• To determine the individual economic spend during their visit to Plymouth
• To determine the total annual spend by visiting people to Plymouth
• To determine the economic value of the Coronation to the local economy
• To determine the lessons learnt by the Coronation trail project as well as on other trails that have been established in England including HMS Colossus and on the Normans Bay Wreck.
The information required to undertake the research will be obtained by undertaking an online survey of the visitors to the Coronation wreck in 2011 and 2012. The online survey will be created in SurveyMonkey (www.surveymonkey.com) using the SurveyMonkey licence held by English Heritage. A hyperlink to the online survey will be emailed to all visitors that have undertaken the trail since it was established in 2011. This survey will be distributed via obtaining access to the database of visitors held by the current licensee of the site, Mr Mark Pearce and will also be promoted via appropriate websites and internet diver forums.
The questions asked in the online survey will be aimed at trying to understand the success factors of a diver trail on a Protected Wreck. The questions will cover not only broad issues of motivation, experience, knowledge gained as well as economic information about their visit to the Coronation, covering.
• Number of visits to the Coronation in 2011 and 2012;
• Motivation - Why did they want to dive the Coronation;
• How did they get to the site – charter boat trip or self-organised group/club trip;
• Money spent getting to Plymouth;
• Money spent with companies in Plymouth from petrol, food, accommodation, equipment hire, boat charter, ancillary purchases;
• Donations made to the Coronation Wreck Project;
• Evaluation of their experience visiting the Coronation;
• Would they have been willing to pay an entry fee to visit the Coronation;
• Details of any other Protected Wreck diver trails visited;
• Evaluation of their experience visiting other Protected Wrecks.
The final report will be submitted to English Heritage in April 2013 and will published by the NAS during 2013.