press release
Published: 17 August 2022

Embracing tourism could be the blueprint for Cornish fishers' sustainable success

The voyage of Cornish fishers into tourism provides a potential model for the promotion of the 'Blue Economy' elsewhere, according to new research from the University of Surrey.

Researchers found that Cornish fishers' decision to transition to a model incorporating marine tourism – for example, taking customers on fishing trips – is helping to keep its fishing culture and tradition alive while preserving local finishing stocks.

Dr Anke Winchenbach, Lecturer in Tourism and Transport at the University of Surrey, said:

Our study details how Cornish fishers have experienced the transition into tourism – and hopefully shows how fishing and the tourism industry can work together to help maintain the region's traditions while reaping the benefits of positive marine tourism.  

It's not a question of ditching tradition but showing how valuing tradition while embracing new opportunities delivers real economic and social benefit to the fishers and the region.

In the UK, the number of fishing operators has declined by 45 per cent since 1994 and 75 per cent between 1938 and 2020. The decline in fishing, as well as a lack of tourism promotion, partly contributes to a situation where 90 per cent of the UK's most deprived communities are at the coast.

Coastal and marine tourism is the second largest contributor to the Blue Economy and is the fastest growing area of contemporary tourism.

Surrey's study shows that fishers who transition into marine tourism in Cornwall are not only experiencing a change in fortunes financially but report an improvement in their mental and physical health, thanks to a safer working environment and a sense of pride associated with using their fishing skills and knowledge. The diversification is seen as a win-win, with less pressure on fishing stocks, leading to a more sustainable industry.

The Surrey team also found that the fishers' new strategy has received support from local communities throughout Cornwall. The new endeavour allows traditions to remain alive and keeps fishers turned marine tourism operators connected to the sea while benefitting the local community.

Dr Winchenbach added:

With tourism accounting for 20 per cent of employment in Cornwall and contributing just over £2 billion to the local economy through visitor-related spending, the regional debate has often pitched tourism against tradition.  

Our study suggests that tourism and tradition can work hand-in-hand to support the community, deliver economic and personal benefits through increasing social interactions and improving mental health.

The study has been published in the journal Annals of Tourism Research.

Notes to editors

  • Reference: Anke Winchenbach et al.; Constructing identity in marine tourism diversification; Annals of Tourism Research; Volume 95; July 2022; 10.1016/j.annals.2022.103441
  • If you would like to interview Dr Anke Winchenbach, Lecturer from the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of Surrey, please contact the media relations team at
  • The University of Surrey is a world-leading centre for excellence in sustainability – where our multi-disciplinary research connects society and technology to equip humanity with the tools to tackle climate change, clean our air, reduce the impacts of pollution on health and help us live better, more sustainable lives. The University is committed to improving its own resource efficiency on its estate and being a sector leader, aiming to be carbon neutral by 2030. A focus on research that makes a difference to the world has contributed to Surrey being ranked 55th in the world in the Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Rankings 2022, which assesses more than 1,400 universities' performance against the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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