What are Tourist signs?
Tourist signs are directional traffic signs which differ from normal direction signs as they are shown as white letters on a brown background and may include symbols relating to the type of destination being signed. The colour and style of tourist signs is synonymous with the tourism industry and makes them easily recognisable to road users.
The role of Tourist signing
Tourist signs are provided to help visitors on the last stage of their journey to a tourist destination and to help drivers navigate via the most appropriate route. They are not to be used as advertising and should only be provided to attractions and facilities that visitors would otherwise have difficulty finding.
What can be signed?
Tourist destinations in England are split into ‘facilities’ and ‘attractions’. Tourist facilities may be signed only from single and dual-carriageway ‘A’ roads. Tourist attractions may also be signed from motorways.
The list below is an example of the types of tourist destinations which may be eligible for signing from the strategic road network:
What can’t be signed?
Retail outlets, shops or shopping centres, garden centres (including those with food outlets, play areas and additional retail outlets), exhibition centres or conferencing facilities cannot be signed with tourist signing.
Will I be eligible?
It’s not possible for every tourist destination to be signed, as there is such a number and variety of tourist destinations. Whilst promoting tourism and economic growth, it’s in no-one’s interest to have a large number of signs with so much information that the visitor becomes confused and uncertain. New tourist signing has to be added as part of an overarching plan for delivering signing and minimising the impact on the streetscape.
We use criteria, which have been developed with extensive consultation and involvement with the tourism industry, to determine which destinations may be eligible to ensure that the most appropriate destinations are signed.
We consider a number of factors to determine whether a destination may be eligible for tourist signs. These include location, distance from the network, visitor numbers and parking facilities. In considering whether signs can be installed on the network, we also take into account factors such as road safety, the number and type of existing signs, environmental impact and signing continuity. Occasionally, excess signing demand, high environmental intrusion or a significant impact on road safety means that we cannot always agree to tourist signs being provided, even where the destination itself may be eligible.
Who decides whether I can have a tourist sign?
The Highways Agency looks after most of England’s motorways and major trunk roads. Other roads are managed by Highway Authorities, generally a department of the Local Authority. Each Highway Authority has its own criteria regarding tourist signs. There may be more than one Highway Authority with responsibility for the route to a tourist destination and where this is the case, each Authority needs to be involved in the decision making process. This ensures that where signs are provided the route to the destination is signed consistently. The criteria used to determine the eligibility of tourist destinations in relation to the strategic road network is available from our process and policy guidance page.
When making an application for tourist signs, the Local Highway Authority responsible for the road from which the destination is accessed (the Home Traffic Authority) should always be the first point of contact. The Home Traffic Authority should liaise with other neighbouring Authorities affected by the application to deliver a seamless service. Where the tourist destination is accessed directly from the strategic road network, the Highways Agency becomes the Home Traffic Authority and will liaise with any neighbouring Highway Authorities as necessary.
How much will it cost?
Applicants must pay the cost of any tourist signs provided on the strategic road network. Costs include design, installation, temporary traffic management and future maintenance. Once installed, tourist signs become the property of the relevant Highway Authority to ensure that they can be maintained as required during their life.
The cost of providing tourist signs is influenced by many factors that vary according to location including the wording , size and number of signs required; the positioning and protection by safety barrier where needed; and the costs relating to temporary traffic management needed to erect signs, essential to safeguard our workers and road users during installation. We may also have to perform geotechnical and environmental impact investigations as part of the design process. The costs involved should be taken into consideration when you are budgeting for your tourist signs.
Below are three examples of sign faces and their cost ranges – many other options for signing exist and may be more applicable to your destination. Where signs are to be provided, we will advise you on the appropriate requirements (type, wording, size, number, etc) for your particular destination and the route to be signed. The costs ranges are purely to give you an indication of your possible outlay.
|Examples of tourist signs and indicative costs|
|Single or dual carriageway||Single or dual carriageway||Dual carriageway or Motorway|
How long will it take?
We aim to review applications for tourist signs as soon as possible. The design and installation process does take time as this includes agreement on wording and number of signs, detailed design, manufacture and installation. You should therefore allow around 9 months from start to finish, though unforeseen factors such as the need to reposition existing signs, or presence of underground services which may need to be diverted, may cause delays.
Installation can only begin after completion of detailed design and subject to a funding agreement, known as a section 278 agreement.
We have summarised the application process for you. Full details can be found in our standard TD 52/04.
Where can I get more information?
Here we have just given you an overview of tourist signing. If you want to explore the possibility of tourist signing further for your destination it’s strongly recommended that you read the “TD 52/04” which can be downloaded with other guidance from our process and policy guidance page.
Remember, when making an application for tourist signs, the Local Highway Authority responsible for the road from which the destination is accessed (the Home Traffic Authority) should always be your first point of contact so,
- Check our network map to see if we manage your road.
- If we don’t, visit DirectGov to look up your Highway Authority
- For tourist signs in Greater London (excluding M25 and A282), contact Transport for London — email@example.com
Submit an enquiry
The Highways Agency is an executive Agency of the Department for Transport (DfT) and is responsible for operating, maintaining and improving the strategic road network in England on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport.
If you have an enquiry regarding a Brown Tourist sign and would like to discuss a possible location for signs on the Strategic Road Network, please complete the details below and we will pass it to a team local to your Region.