Off to the Seaside

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Amroth Beach, Pembrokeshire (image copyright and courtesy Pembrokeshire Tourism Industry)

Amroth Beach, Pembrokeshire (image copyright and courtesy Pembrokeshire Tourism Industry)

Yesterday’s exit by England from the World Cup in South Africa prompted a lot of online searching for holidays. Although the match didn’t finish till late afternoon, internet bookings quickly rose, in some cases by 40% over the Sunday before.
But will you decide to stay and holiday at home or will you head for overseas? Given the weather over the last week, staying at home seems appealing.
Making a decision coincides with a report that has come from Sheffield Hallam University about our seaside towns. The report, widely trumpeted on the BBC this morning and in national and local newspapers, points out how important tourism is to coastal towns. Skipping over what seems to be the obvious, the exact value is surprising. Blackpool, for example has 19,000 jobs in tourism, Torbay has 9,000 and Tenby has 2,600. Tendring Council, which includes Clacton and Harwich in its area, says tourism generates £276 million a year for the local economy and it directly employs 13% of the population. Great Yarmouth puts the estimate at £480 million.
For years people have been saying the seaside holiday is in decline. In some years it is. In others where good weather appears or the euro/dollar makes it expensive to go abroad, holidaying in the UK makes sense. But UK providers need to be aware of something else. The offers that we get from other countries such as all-inclusive breaks, packaged accommodation and transport are still things that are unusual in the UK. Just as the concept of Center Parcs providing all weather facilities changed the idea of the traditional chalet/holiday camp breaks so seaside areas have to work harder to make us to want to visit them. Acres of sand and clean beaches and water helps but it won’t be the be all end all. This report from Sheffield Hallam provides hard-nosed research that we still like and go to the seaside. It also shows how important it is contrary to the Lib Dem MP for Torbay, Adrian Sanders, who is quoted as saying to his local newspaper that the report bears no relation to the real economy. Tell that to the local tourist bodies or would he prefer we stay away from Torquay, Paignton and Brixham? Tourism is more important than the pharmaceutical industry or the car industry to the economy.
Overall, domestic tourism is worth an estimated £14 billion and a quarter of that is due to the attractions of the seaside. Your decision on whether to stay or go abroad is important. It is a case where you make a difference.

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