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Hengistbury Head is a headland situated in Dorset, owned by
Bournemouth Borough Council and managed by the Parks and Recreation
Department. Hengistbury Head is a popular recreational area managing
more than one million visitors a year. The honeypot site is an Ancient
Monument, a site of Special Scientific Interest and a Local Nature
Reserve. It’s popularity has meant a deterioration in the quality of
the environment because of damage visitors have caused and disturbance
to the wildlife habitats. The point of my coursework is to research
how successful the management of tourism at Hengistbury Head is.
The aim of my enquiry is to find out:
o Why do tourists visit Hengistbury Head?
o What problems do tourists cause at Hengistbury Head?
o How are tourists being controlled (managed) at Hengistbury Head?
o Is this management working?
Hengistbury Head is a headland on the South Coast of England in
Dorset. Hengistbury Head is near to the conurbation of Bournemouth,
Christchurch and Poole with a combined population of 346,600. If you
were to venture 20 miles up the coast you would come across the city
of Southampton with the population of 221,000. In addition to this is
that it is also situated near the New Forest, a newly designated
National Park promoting tourism in the area substantially. It stands
close to the historic town of Christchurch, the popular sea side town
of Bournemouth, the large city of Southampton and the World Heritage
Site. Lastly, it is conveniently accessible from the busy motorways of
the M27 and the M3. All this combined makes it a very busy tourist
destination which means there must be strategies in place to manage
the damage the visitors inevitably will cause.
What is Hengistbury Head like?
Hengistbury Head is a beautiful headland surrounded by picturesque
countryside and equipped with a beach.
: Physical attractions include
o A series of planned walks ideal for strolling, hiking or dog
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o A wildlife pond which welcomes a variety of wildlife
o Nature reserve for nature enthusiasts
o Beach and sea ideal for bathing and walking
o Wildlife, local to the area and a joy to watch
o Estuary and freshwater marsh where many sea birds gather for feeding
o Grassland fields ideal to fly kites on, eat and relax
o Reedbeds which provide shelter for small birds and local wildlife
o Salt marsh and heathland also home to species of nesting birds
Human attractions include:
o The ‘Noddy Train’ which is loved by children
o Golf course
o Crazy golf
o Information Centre
o Outdoor activities centre which holds sailing and canoeing classes
o Car park
Hengistbury Head was naturally an area that would attract many
visitors. However, a number of human attractions were put in place
which would increase the amount of visitors even more.
Problems tourists bring to Hengistbury Head
An ageing population means and many elderly people are choosing to go
away for weekends or trips to national parks and places of beautiful
scenery such as Hengistbury. Adding to Tourism abroad and in the UK is
that the working week is considerably shorter than it used to be
Full time working woman
Full time working man
Salaries have also increased enabling people to afford travel more
easily. People from inner cities such as London are able to visit the
country and Hengistbury Head.
Full time working woman
Full time working man
Another reason for increased tourism to Hengistbury Head could be
greater mobility and accessibility. There has been a n increase in car
ownership which has given people the freedom to chose where and when
they go to anywhere for day trips.
Car ownership per family
Britain also had no motorways in 1951 however they have rapidly
increased since then. As have the quality of roads. This has led to a
reduction in driving time between spaces which has encouraged more
people to drive greater distances, again backing up my theory of
people from the city traveling to Hengistbury Head for a weekend
getaway or a day trip.
Domestic Holidays Taken by UK Residents by Region
This graph shows how many people are now taking holidays or trips
within the UK which could be a reason as to why there are so many
visitors to Hengistbury in summer (10.000 a day)
There are a number of problems tourists cause when they flock to
Hengistbury Head including:
* Litter, vandalism and trespassing is caused by disrespectful
visitors to Hengistbury and can result in damage to the
environment, wildlife and vegetation.
* Erosion of footpaths has occurred on the most popular footpaths by
constant trampling from so many people.
* Unsightly car parks, café and toilet block have popped up to cater
for the visitors needs in order to prevent unnecessary damage.
* Destruction of Vegetation by constant tramplers.Over use of
Hengistbury has resulted in severe damage to the grasslands and
the ancient earth works of Double Dykes. Trampling causes
compaction of the soil which prevents roots from growing and the
seeds of the wild flowers and grasses germinating. This is not
only caused by walkers but by picnickers, kite flyers, bird
* There is much conflict between the dog walkers and the bird
watchers. The bird watchers claim that the uncontrolled dogs cause
disturbance to the nesting and roosting birds. 10,000 people may
visit Hengistbury on a summer Sunday. There is plenty of scope for
conflict! Uncontrolled dogs have caused the loss of ground nesting
birds such as Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, and Shelduck.
* Crowding may occur on the most popular viewpoints at Hengistbury
or in the small café.
* Cars may park on grass verges or in narrow roads/lanes which
causes inconvenience and unsightliness for others.
A Honey pot is an area of attractive scenery, or of historic interest
to which tourists swarm in large numbers. The dilemma is how to
preserve the unspoiled quality and how to protect it’s natural beauty!
At Hengistbury Head there are a number of strategies put in place to
manage the damage to the environment the visitors cause. There are a
number of strategies put in place to conserve Hengistbury Head so that
many more visitors can enjoy it’s beauty in years to
How is tourism at Hengistbury head managed?
o Hengistbury Head has employed a park ranger. The job of the Park
Ranger is to supervise the management of Hengistbury. He is also
responsible for carrying out decisions made by the management
committee. Other tasks he has to endure include creating ponds, tree
planting, path repairs, sign making, writing booklets and taking
guided walks. Not only this but he also patrols Hengistbury Head and
enforces the byelaws.
o There is a very effective sign post system in operation in
Hengistbury Head. There are sign posted walks to encourage less
erosion and damage from certain other parts of Hengistbury. For
example in 1991 it was decided to fence off the Double Dykes and erect
informative signs to create a series of circular walks which the
public are encouraged to use. This in turn will protect more fragile
areas from some extra damage. There are also informative signs
explaining the history of Hengistbury or educating visitors in other
ways about the surroundings. There are signs telling the public to
keep dogs on leads and to take litter home etc.
o A large car park at Hengistbury is in operation to reduce the amount
of cars parked on grass verges and narrow lanes.
o Fences have been put round specific parts of Hengistbury such as
ponds where wildlife inhabits. There are also fences to protect
o Alternative honeypots have been man made such as various viewpoints
e.g. at the top of Warren Hill, the café and the ‘Noddy Train’ beside
the car park to prevent over crowding in one particular area of
o An information centre for the public has also been set up at
Hengistbury to educate the public to encourage them to look after the
o A sign saying ‘Keep Dogs under close control and away from ponds’
has helped reduce the conflict between the bird watchers and the dog
walkers. It has also helped the future destruction of other ponds.
The reason for all this management and preservation of the environment
at Hengistbury Head is for one main reason which is SUSTAINABLE
TOURISM. This is the idea that if Hengistbury Head is managed
successfully now, those future generations of tourists at Hengistbury
Head can go on forever. The aim of the management team at Hengistbury
is to strike the right balance between tourism and protecting the
environment in the hope of achieving sustainable tourism.