Following the introduction of destination benchmarking for historic towns, cities and seaside resorts, there was a great deal of interest from more rurally-based Local Authorities wanting to participate in the national programme. However, it was recognised that the standard methodology would need to be adapted to suit the particular circumstances of market towns.
A specific Rural Tourism Project in Lincolnshire, provided an opportunity to involve ten market towns within a relatively small geographic area in the county and to co-ordinate research activity. A further seven market towns in Essex, Wiltshire and Surrey also piloted the method, enabling wider comparisons of results to be made.
The principal attractions to the methodology involve concentrating survey work on peak times of year between July and September, adapting the questionnaire to include specific indicators on the market, additional questions probing motivation for visit and examining the relationship of the market town to its hinterland.
The success of the pilot enabled destination benchmarking for market towns to be rolled out nationally in 2000.