Yuko Shioji is professor of anthropology and international tourism in Japan and as part of her research recently toured “Walkers are Welcome” towns in West Somerset starting in Wiveliscombe which, in 2009, was the first town in Somerset to achieve Walkers are Welcome status. Yuko and her young daughter Yoko together with 2 members of the Walkers are Welcome National Executive were hosted in Wiveliscombe for 24 hours.

They saw how a small rural working community can encourage tourists by promoting walking. All “ Walkers are Welcome” towns guarantee that there are good walking facilities such as well maintained footpaths, printed or digital walks information, accommodation and general facilities. Yuko had discussions with members of the business and walking groups, the County Archaeologist, and Town Councillors. She learnt how all footpaths within the Parish Boundary including all those on The Wivey Way are adopted and regularly walked by locals so that problems can be identified and dealt with by Somerset County Council. She also heard how sponsored walks are organised. Then there was time to record an interview for broadcast on Friday August 26th in the community show on 10 Radio fm 105.3. The final event for our visitors was a visit to the new, impressive “walker friendly” camp site only 1 mile from the Town centre.

After a very busy, sociable time our visitors left to visit to visit other “Walkers are Welcome” towns such as Dunster and Lynton and Lynmouth. These Exmoor based tourist towns provide a good contrast and different aspect to how good walking facilities and routes can attract visitors.

Professor Shioji ‘s visit to Somerset ended by seeing Nether Stowey who are hoping to achieve “Walkers are Welcome” status in the next few months.

Learn more by tuning in to 10 Radio FM 105.5 this Friday.