2023 predictions – 'What we’ll see in the outdoor industry’
What do you think is going to be new in 2023?
There is clearly a growing trend across the health profession in the use of social prescribing. We have already seen trials start. It’s great to see funding covering initiatives to help people access the outdoors such as cycle training, free bike loans and walking mental health groups, as well as improved infrastructure so people feel safe. I expect to see more health bodies and local authorities take this approach because the outdoors is free. At OS we talk about making the outdoors enjoyable, accessible and safe and social prescribing really supports this.
It’s vital that we build on this momentum and encourage more people to get outside and keep active. From rural villages and national parks to cities and town parks there are so many places to explore and discover across our great nation. For anyone getting into walking or cycling my advice would be to start local and act within your abilities. Obviously a map is an essential tool to help everyone find new walks and rides. The OS GetOutside website not only has simple guides to reading a map but also has some fantastic resources and advice for people wanting to learn more about walking and cycling outside, where to go and what to take. I’m confident that people taking part in the trials will get the outdoor bug and will soon build their abilities start to explore further.
What is going to stay the same next year?
The cost-of-living crisis is looking unlikely to ease any time soon and this is having an immediate impact on how we spend our free time. Ordnance Survey research, carried out this summer, found that already two-thirds of adults admit the squeeze has led to cutting back on visits out to paid attractions and entertainments and that’s before we had the shock of the price rises when turning the heating back on.
An alternative, we want to encourage is not to cut back,
The British countryside and our towns and cities are so rich with scenery, views and hidden treasures to experience. Every single weekend you can go out and discover a different adventure that will not cost a thing and will not be all over in two hours.
Our navigation app OS Maps is a great free alternative to replace expensive days out. People just need to download it to their phone, find their location and then go and follow or plot a route nearby and get outside. There are millions of routes to discover or plot your own so you’re guaranteed an adventure every time they do it.
What would you personally like to change in 2023?
Sustainability is a subject affecting everybody and we all need to play our part. The outdoor sector has long championed sustainability and inclusion which is great to see and be a part of. But more focus is needed to help support people to travel to the outdoors more responsibly – whether that be to provide better transport links or give access to or greater promotion of walking routes and cycling routes. We know local authorities have started to trial schemes that promote active green travel and they all have their own plans to improve cycle networks and walking networks which is great, but there is still work to do to really get people to ditch the cars.
Although government budgets are going to be restricted next year, I would like to see investment in these projects to continue to receive funding because of the long-term benefits it brings towards the nation’s sustainability goals. Plus the physical and health benefits are enormous. Not only are we going to be protecting the planet, but fewer people will have to rely on hospitals and health services if we are all more active.
Why should people still get outside next year?
The best thing about the outdoors is that it not only makes you feel a whole lot better, but it’s also free.
At OS the outdoors is core to what we do, we are passionate about the benefits of it and are on a mission for everybody to get outside more often and be as adventurous as possible to keep active, fit and healthy. We believe that the outdoors comes alive with a map. It could be a paper map spread across the kitchen table planning your adventures as a family (and every map has thousands of adventures to discover) or a digital map on your phone- both give you the ability to find new paths, adventures and experiences wherever you are. Even if it is just telling the story of how you were caught out by the elements.
I still recall a family trip to Wales where we were caught in the most almighty downpour at our furthest point on our day out. We trudged through the rain soaked to the skin, for an hour or more but even in the discomfort of battling through the wind and rain, once we were back inside and dry clothes and a hot chocolate in hand, we told stories of how we conquered the elements fought through the rain and mud and likened ourselves to Scott of the Antarctic.
Those are the kinds of experiences you remember for ever, and we want people to get out there and experience these safely.
Get ideas on new areas to explore on our OS Leisure GetOutside website.
Managing Director of OS Consumer