In an open letter to politicians and the public, EOG president Mark Held has highlighted the positive role that the outdoor industry has played to support people’s physical and mental health during lockdown, and urged politicians to work with the association and other organisations to provide the clear guidance that will help populations re-engage with outdoor activities.
Mark Held writes:
“Continued access to the outdoors – even with restrictions – has helped many people across Europe cope with the lockdown phase of this crisis, and the simple act of going outside for a walk has been essential for maintaining good mental health. Similarly, outdoor activity organisations have done a huge amount to support the public during these very difficult times, delivering an amazing variety of creative ideas, plus advice that has complied with restrictions. People everywhere have been gaining an even greater appreciation of the outdoors as a result of these unusual circumstances and evidence is growing that as we emerge from this situation, their appetite for exploring the natural world will be greater than ever.
“It is vital that local, national and wider European authorities do all that they can to facilitate and support populations that want to reconnect with nature and outdoor activities after the COVID-19 pandemic. This crisis has clearly demonstrated the very significant mental and physical benefits of being active in the outdoors that the EOG has been campaigning about for many years, and the entry threshold is extremely low. Climbing, hiking, hut-to-hut trekking in the Alps – these and other activities, and the people and organisations who facilitate them, form the backbone of the extensive outdoor economy, which brings employment and income to communities in all parts of Europe.
“We call on politicians to acknowledge these facts and act accordingly to positively impact the lives of millions of Europeans. Our sector contributes billions to the economy and has the expertise and resources to support activation everywhere. Outdoor businesses and organisations are ready and primed to deliver everything from basic instruction at climbing walls as they re-open, through to guiding citizens on the hills and mountains, and on to the huge network of outdoor-focused accommodation and other services that are in place throughout Europe.
“The European Outdoor Group and our extensive network of partners, have all of the knowledge, processes, products and services required to help get populations safely back into the outdoors, whenever and wherever that is possible. We urge authorities everywhere to work with us to make that happen.”
The open letter has been published ahead of the release of new joint research by the EOG, It’s Great Out There Coalition and consumer trends specialist Foresight Factory, which will reveal that citizens throughout Europe who have experienced lockdown now have an increased appetite for engaging in outdoor activities as restrictions ease. The research results will be unveiled in the near future and will support the next phase of the #itsgreatoutthere campaign, led by the coalition, which was founded by the EOG to promote participation in outdoor activities across Europe.