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Escape the City With Modern Ramblers

Ollie Irwin

01 MARCH 2021

In 2020 we witnessed the birth of a new generation of young urban ramblers and natural world enthusiasts, eager to rewild themselves after months of existing in their domestic four walls. In the UK, the lure of our British heritage sites and areas of outstanding natural beauty was catered to by a string of new publications and influencer collectives. As we look forward to the warmer months ahead and March’s spring solstice, it’s safe to say this trend is set to continue. What does this tell us about the changing desires of travel audiences and how can heritage organisations use influencers to showcase their unique offerings and stimulate footfall?

The Bridgerton Residence… Ranger’s House – Greenwich, London

The Dig – Tranmer House, Sutton Hoo filmed at Norney Grange in Surrey

From movies like The Dig and hit Netflix series such as Bridgerton, audience desire for entertainment that transports them to a simpler time has never been so on-trend. Perhaps it’s a longing to be transported away from the stress and frustration associated with contemporary urban living that’s encouraging a legion of city dwellers to make the pilgrimage to UK heritage sites. Once the reserve of forgettable school trips and dusty geography teachers, locations like Stonehenge in Wiltshire and Sutton Hoo in Suffolk are beginning to generate more cultural cache than Soho House and St Barts.

An organisation that has previously monopolised on audiences’ love of heritage sites is Visit Scotland, with pop culture’s favourite teenage wizard functioning as the key catalyst used to stimulate tourist interest in Steam Falls and Glenfinnan Viaduct. They invited lifestyle influencer and Harry Potter fanatic Tessa Netting to undertake the iconic Jacobite Steam Train journey to Hogwarts, starting in the historic streets of Edinburgh before heading into the wilderness of the Highlands. Additionally the organisation has run similar influencer campaigns with YouTube personalities Sasha Alsberg and Tasha Polis, who documented their Scottish adventure as they visited sites which appeared in the historical drama Outlander. Importantly, local councils, tourist boards and heritage organisations must look to trending contemporary cultural events to reignite interest in the tourist destinations of yesteryear.

And it’s not just sites of historical interest that are attracting new urban audiences. In the last year we’ve witnessed a growing passion for activities more traditionally associated with the Albion of yesteryear than contemporary urban Britain. Take for example Flock Together, a London-based bird watching club started by creatives Ollie Olanipekun and Nadeem Perera with the desire to help young urbanites escape the city and connect with nature. The popularity of the group has grown substantially in the last 12 months with growing numbers of members ditching pints of Birra Moretti for binoculars. The popularity of these new influencer-led collectives has piqued the attention of brands such as Gucci, The North Face and most interestingly the RSPB. Importantly collaborating with this new group of influencers and their audiences will prolong the lifespan of these national institutions, exposing them to new audiences who will continue to safeguard their futures for younger generations while generating much needed funding. Other heritage organisations, take note…

As we move out of strict lockdown, ongoing international travel restrictions will continue to make the seamless European exploration that we once enjoyed harder to pursue. The slower paced, more introspective lifestyle that many have come to appreciate since lockdown, combined with a continued interest in history and the natural world will continue to encourage audiences to unearth the hidden national treasures on their doorsteps.

Want to learn more about how influencer partnerships can be used to stimulate footfall? Drop us a line.