Avoiding congested beaches

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

It was just three weeks ago that our daughter took her children down to our nearest beach whilst they stayed with us for a week.

Beach Check UK will take a bit of space on your smartphone but it is easy and quick to load.

Down there by 10.30 in the morning, there was a shortage of parking even at that time. Coming back in the early afternoon, there was a queue of cars waiting to get into the parking and the overflow parking area. Luckily the beach is so wide and so long that there was plenty of space for them to enjoy themselves.

Other people travelling there later in the day might have changed their minds going there if they were aware of how busy the parking would be.

It would have been useful to them all if a new app called Beach Check UK had been available to them. As it was, the app was launched last week and what a boon it will be to beach visitors.

Working on a traffic light system that uses sophisticated technology and on-the-ground authorised users who assign a colour code to beaches according to the number of visitors, ability for social distancing to be maintained and number of car park spaces, the app aims to reduce overcrowding at popular coastal areas and encourage safe social distancing.

This new app allows visitors to check the status of a beach before they arrive in order to avoid congested beaches. In case you think that might deter people from visiting if it was crowded, the app encourages them to discover nearby beaches that are quieter.

The app is free, easy to use and downloadable from Google Play and the Apple App store allowing users to check individual beaches or see a map showing red (crowded), amber (less congested) and green (uncongested) beaches. And we are all used to traffic colours for travelling to tourist destinations aren’t we?

There is a problem that those planning to download it should be aware. The first is that the project is in its early stages and doesn’t cover the whole of England yet let alone the UK. But here is where you can come in – you can help it expand to your area.

Bournemouth beach
Bournemouth in the past. Will the new app end congested beaches?

At present it just covers Hayling Island, Hampshire; Camber Sands and Bexhill Beach, East Sussex; Thanet (Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate); Westward Ho!, Devon; West Wittering, West Sussex, Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch and Minehead Somerset.

Remember how busy the coastline was around Bournemouth last summer when lockdown easing and hot temperatures sent people to the beaches? Fleas on a dog’s back doesn’t quite sum up just how many people descended into the area making traffic management difficult.

It was during this time that Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council last summer piloted the app. The Westminster government is funding the project with the intention of allowing coastal communities to carefully welcome back visitors so councils wanting to add their beaches to the app won’t have large costs to bear.

It is hoped that the app will also help local areas bounce back from the hardship faced by the pandemic.

The National Coastal Tourism Academy is supporting BCP Council in the roll out of their app and is encouraging resorts nationwide to adopt it. If you have council contacts in your area check with them to see if they are aware of it and are looking to join.

I spoke to some local county councillors and they were unaware of it. Maybe I just contacted the wrong ones!

For those living near the coast, this is something you can do to help your future visits to the beach. Get your local council to sign up

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