We can’t wait to go Outdoors

[5 February] Life with Covid-19 has had some profound impacts on our day to day habits. New research from the European Outdoor Group (EOG) and the It’s Great Out There Coalition has found that 70% of respondents are specifically looking forward to participating in outdoor activities once lockdown eases. In addition, 67% agreed they have missed being able to participate in outdoor pursuits including hiking, climbing and cycling. 86% agreed that outdoor activities are essential for wellbeing, while 58% have missed outdoor activities above all else.

The research, targeted consumers across seven European countries; UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland and Sweden, with 1,000 respondents in each market.

Of those who completed the survey, 62% usually participate in outdoor activities about monthly or more often, while 29% do so a few times a year. A series of questions about the impact of COVID-19 clearly revealed an increased appreciation of the outdoors as a result of the pandemic. Over 50% of respondents have had reduced physical activities outdoors during the outbreak and 58% have missed those above all else during confinement, rising to 72% in Spain and 65% in Italy, two countries which imposed some of the most restrictive lockdowns. 70% of respondents are now looking forward to participating in more outdoor activities as a priority when restrictions end. The impact of different lockdown strategies is clear. In Sweden, which did not impose mass confinement, there is not the same strength of feeling around missing outdoor activities or looking forward to resuming them.

Mark Held, EOG president, comments: “This is a comprehensive and robust piece of research in seven of the biggest outdoor markets in Europe, and the results are very clear. Wherever citizens have experienced significant restrictions, they have really missed the ability to access the outdoors. More than that, confinement has given active consumers a greater appreciation of the nature that they have been missing.

“The outdoor sector is absolutely ready to welcome everyone, from novice climbers to first-time hikers, but authorities across Europe also need to act and respond positively to this growing appetite. It is essential that the public is encouraged to participate in outdoor activities safely and responsibly with the right information from experts. The European Outdoor Group and It’s Great Out There Coalition will continue to campaign and support all such efforts, and we will work with all of our members and partners to help citizens everywhere as they get more active outdoors.”

In a twist of cruel irony, Scotland’s ski resorts are seeing some of the best snowfall and ski conditions in the last 20 years, and visitors are missing it all. It’s no wonder there’s a sense of anticipation for the future, as we aim to make up for lost time and embrace the activities we once took for granted, and the great outdoors we get to enjoy while doing them.