Visitor Management Plan Consultants
Sustainable Tourism Strategy
Caldicot Castle Visitor Experience Plan
Conkers Visitor Attraction Business Plan

What is a Visitor Management Plan?

A VMP is a living document which helps site and destination managers to guide the visitor journey to the site and manage visitor flows and behaviours within a range of different sites from National Nature Reserves through to country parks, National Parks, museums, historic houses and wider destinations. At the same time VMPs can focus on single issues such as managing motorhomes at outdoor recreation sites.

Why prepare a Visitor Management Plan?
Some sites and destinations are reporting ever-increasing visitor numbers which are impacting on the quality of the visitor experience along with generating negative impacts on the natural environment and host communities.

A well thought out VMP will help to create a memorable, enjoyable and safe experience for visitors. At the same time, it will help to manage and minimise negative impacts on the natural environment, the built heritage and host communities. Intelligent use of trend data and appropriate investment can help ‘future proof’ sites.

A well thought out VMP will also dovetail into other site management plans and strategies and help deliver on organisational mission and objectives, creating win/win outcomes and justifying investment.

What is included within a Visitor Management Plan?
Sections typically included within our VMPs are:

Defining the core objectives: Identify what the VMP aims to achieve – objectives and the vision of success are agreed.

Baseline assessment: A baseline assessment helps to identify where are we now. This will include a description of the site (or area) to be covered by the VMP, identify how many people are visiting, when and why they are visiting, seasonal visitation patterns and visitor flows alongside key issues and challenges. Importantly, the site’s carrying capacity should be defined in terms of infrastructure, visitor experience, ecological constraint etc.

Strategic context: The VMP cannot be considered in isolation. Local, region and national policies will influence the plan and should be considered. Examining strategic trends in visitor numbers, demographics, digital behaviours, AI, decarbonisation policies etc will give weight to a ‘forward look’.

Case Studies and Change Plans: Relevant best practice case studies offer useful insights into structures and approaches. Change plans can address possible governance, staffing, investment, and funding options.

Engagement: Identify and meaningful engagement with key stakeholders and host communities. This is essential as views from stakeholders and the host community will help to shape the VMP. This will also help to ensure there is consensus and buy-in as well as commitment to delivery in the future. Funders may seek reassurance that sufficient empathy with stakeholder views and opinions has been established.

Action Plan: To deliver the VMP, a SMART Action Plan will need to be developed, which is likely to include:

  • Opportunities to enhance the visitor experience
  • Supporting infrastructure, for example, trails, paths, bridleway, car parks, toilets etc
  • Traffic management and active travel to help decarbonise the visitor journey
  • Visitor safety
  • Visitor behaviour
  • Community, for example, the public realm, methods to ensure that economic benefits remain in the community (minimising leakage)
  • Communication
  • Timescales and possible funding options
  • Delivery – management and resourcing: An appropriate governance structure will be required. The VMP needs the capability to respond to market changes, the evolving needs of host communities, legislative and policy changes, and the budgetary and resource demands most organisations experience.

    Measuring success – data collection: Identify key indicators and metrics for visitor activity and impacts. Shape a straightforward, low resource-based approach (RAG – Red/Amber/Green for example) enabling the VMP to be reviewed and monitored.

    VMP project examples we have worked on:
    A VMP setting out a more sustainable approach for management by the National Trust of Freshwater West – a popular beach on the Pembrokeshire coast.
    A VMP for key honeypot visitor sites operated by East Lothian Council and a supporting destination management plan for the council area to meet Scottish Government RTIF requirements.
    A VMP and sustainable tourism strategy for the Nevis Landscape Partnership covering Glen Nevis, the gateway to Ben Nevis (working with Duncan Bryden Associate)
    A VMP for Monmouthshire County Council’s Caldicot Castle, a Grade I listed building

    Added value – managing visitor sites
    Our sister company, Planning Solutions Limited, manages a number of visitor sites including CONKERS a 120-acre site in the National Forest, Kent Life a heritage farm park and the Cotswold Country Park and Beach. We find this ‘hands-on’ operational experience helps us to prepare robust, pragmatic and deliverable VMPs.

    How can we help?
    If have any questions about preparing a Visitor Management Plan please don’t hesitate to call Richard Linington on 07866 742628 or email