Campaign Hopes to Get Britain on Footby Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com Sep/2012
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Trade body the Outdoor Industries Association (OIA) has announced the upcoming launch of what it's calling the most important campaign in its history. Britain on Foot (BoF) will be a drive to get more people active in the outdoors.
Britain on Foot is a 'multi-platform consumer campaign' that aims to bring together many companies and organisations to inspire and inform the general public to get a bit more active and adventurous - a 'call to action' to get Britain fitter, healthier and happier in the great outdoors. Everyone can be involved no matter their age, ability or financial status, say the OIA; it's about educating the public about the benefits of getting active in the outdoors and then engaging and enabling them to do so, whether that is a simple stroll in the local park or bagging proper peaks on a weekend hiking trip. But the BoF campaign is about more than just walking, encompassing other outdoor activities from climbing, trail running and mountain biking to family camping trips and adventure activities such as high ropes courses and geocaching.
BoF will be revealed to a small audience of outdoor industry leaders, national politicians and media during a Westminster event on October 24, hosted by John Mann MP and David Rutley MP, the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) and the Mountaineering All Party Parliamentary Group, with keynote speeches from Ministers for Health and Tourism. The formal launch is being supported by the BMC and will be preceded by an as-yet-unspecified high profile media event designed to put the outdoors firmly on the general public's radar.
OIA chief executive Andrew Denton, who has been discussing BoF with Government types in an effort to push the outdoors up the political agenda, says:
'As an industry, we can create something very special through Britain on Foot. The OIA is privileged and delighted to be leading this campaign, but it will only succeed if the trade gets behind it in a big way. That support, combined with the considerable backing of key figures at Westminster, can make a huge difference and transform a good campaign into a great one. I am hugely encouraged by the response so far, but we need to get the whole industry on board to ensure that Britain on Foot has legs!'
'This is a pivotal time for the UK outdoor industries. We have made it onto the national political stage, we have gathered representatives from all parts of the sector under one banner, and now we have a campaign that everyone can wholeheartedly support. If we all want this to be a success, we can make it happen. So let's work together and get Britain on Foot.'
They'll have their work cut out for them. The United Kingdom is currently the third least active country in Europe, with 63% of residents failing to meet the Department for Health's activity targets. Outdoor types might be switched on to the benefits of walking (etc), but the OIA acknowledge that this message has yet to get through to most of the population.
Aside from the health benefits, if the campaign proves a success it'll also help the outdoor industry sell more boots, jackets and activity holidays.