THERE are 60 per cent more businesses operating in Exmoor National Park than previously realised, according to findings from one of the largest ever surveys undertaken into the rural economy on Exmoor.

The survey reveals a total of nearly 1,300 businesses operating within the National Park, many of which had been previously missing from national datasets that can overlook micro-businesses and sole traders, which comprise most of business activity on Exmoor.

The research has been undertaken by Wave Hill, an independent social and economic research firm, to better understand the local economy and bring together partners to support sustainable economic development in harmony with the area’s special status as a National Park.

Dan James, sustainable economy manager for Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “As we emerge from lockdown, the findings of this report will provide an important baseline to understand the issues affecting Exmoor’s rural economy and how we can best plan our recovery.”

The findings show that the accommodation and food and drink services are the most common line of business, representing 38 per cent of the total number of businesses.

Agriculture and retail are the next largest sectors each representing 14 per cent of all business on Exmoor and each providing an estimated 9 per cent of jobs.

The report also shows that more than a third of Exmoor businesses are based from home, and that poor connectivity - both in terms of physical infrastructure and digital networks - were seen as the biggest barriers to doing business on Exmoor.