Brown and White Tourist Signs

Tourist signs play a useful role in helping visitors who may be unfamiliar with local roads get to their intended destination. But too many traffic signs can often spoil the built and natural environment and cause clutter which in turn make navigation difficult.

Visit Bristol and Bristol City Council have jointly agreed a policy on signing and this guide is intended to make it easy for you to understand where permission for signs may or may not be granted, what criteria you need to fulfil to apply and the process you need to follow. 

For details of brown sign policy and applications outside of the Bristol City Council boundary, please contact the relevant local authority.

The purpose of traffic signs

Like all other traffic signage, the purpose of tourist signs is to help direct visitors to their intended destination towards the end of their journey.  The signs are only an aid to safe and efficient navigation – they complement road maps and other pre-planning material and for signs to be effective, it is important that drivers are not overloaded with information.   They are not a substitute for good promotional material or as a way of circumventing planning regulations relating to advertising.


The regulations define a tourist destination as:

A permanently established attraction or facility which attracts or is used by visitors to an area and which is open to the public without prior booking during its normal opening hours’.   

Satisfying the criteria for eligibility does not automatically mean that your application will be approved.   Since the regulations limit the number of signs permitted according to local circumstances, and some road junctions may already be at capacity, it is possible that your application for signing on a particular route might be unsuccessful.

To be eligible to apply for signing, you will need to satisfy some basic criteria.   If you need clarification on any particular point, please ask for advice from Visit Bristol.

The criteria applicable to all applicants are:

  • Within your core publicity material you should provide information on alternative forms of transport to private motor vehicles, including public transport, and details of park and ride schemes.
  • Where eligible, you must be accredited under the Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Service run by VisitBritain, or operating an alternative equivalent internal quality assurance scheme.   Wherever possible, priority will be given to businesses that are accredited under the Green Tourism Business Scheme.
  • Except in exceptional circumstances your facility or attraction must be open throughout the year for 5 days or more per week.
  • You must provide dedicated car parking sufficient to meet the needs of your visitors or be located close to other (off-street) public car parking.   Tourist signs will direct visitors to the car park and not the facility or attraction itself.       

Who can apply?

Tourist facilities

Tourist facilities that may be granted permission to erect tourist attraction signs include:

  • Camping parks
  • Picnic sites
  • Information centres
  • Retail centres of regional or significant historical or cultural importance
  • Visitor centres

Normally, permission will not be granted for tourist attraction signs within the city, to individual hotels, night clubs, shops, restaurants, and public houses

Tourist attractions

A tourist attraction must be recognised by Visit Bristol as a place of significant historical, architectural, educational, leisure or recreational interest that generates at least 40% of its footfall from tourists.  

Tourist attractions that may be granted permission to erect tourist attraction signs include

  • Historic buildings
  • Museums
  • Zoos and wildlife centres
  • Parks and gardens
  • Natural attractions
  • Areas of special interest
  • Sports facilities
  • Theatres
  • Cinemas
  • Concert venues

For more information and an application pack, please contact Visit Bristol 

Search For Accommodation

Show More Options
Add Room
Key Features
Room / Unit Features
Establishment Features

Search For Things to Do


Search For What's On


Search For Food & Drink