Slimbridge 2020 will provide greater variety so that more of us can discover what nature conservation means – for everyone. Our engagement officer, Ged Cassell, has been exploring what makes a great day out.

“We know something about the views of the people who visit Slimbridge Wetland Centre, but a lot less about people – even our neighbours – who don’t visit us. Where do they go for a family day out? Which attractions might they like to visit? What would encourage them to come here?
We spoke to over 200 people in Gloucester, Bristol and Cheltenham who aren’t regular visitors, to hear what they’re looking for and what they think about Slimbridge and WWT.

What did we find out?

In lots of our conversations, people told us that they want a reasonably priced day out with plenty to see and do. This was especially true for people with young children: they’re looking for lots to keep young visitors interested, occupied and entertained for a day – and hopefully leave them tired out by the end! They’re more likely to choose a venue with a good café and free parking; for those with very young children, it’s important that the place is ‘buggy-friendly’.

Many people said they like to feel ‘this is a place for me and people like me’. We need to make sure that everyone who comes to our centres, whoever they are, feels that they are welcome and that they ‘belong’.

People also suggested that the activities we’re developing through Slimbridge 2020 would make them more likely to visit. That’s crucial to the project’s success: we want to provide experiences that inspire and engage people. And we’d love them to spread the word about something they enjoy and care about. It’s great to know we’re on the right track.

About one-third of our interviewees had been to Slimbridge before, but over half of those hadn’t visited for seven years or more. This wasn’t a surprise: people often say that they came to Slimbridge as schoolchildren, but haven’t been back since.

The main reason people gave for not coming to Slimbridge is simple: either they don’t know about us, or they haven’t thought about the centre as a place to visit.

Some of the findings were surprising, others confirmed what we thought we knew. It all helps us to attract visitors and encourage support for an amazing place.”

[Ged Cassell, Community Engagement Officer]