How the British seaside survived the Costas

Lifeguard Gareth Oxley keeps an eye on paddlers and bathers on the South Bay beach in Scarborough. Picture: Tony Bartholomew
Lifeguard Gareth Oxley keeps an eye on paddlers and bathers on the South Bay beach in Scarborough. Picture: Tony Bartholomew
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Since the rise of cheap flights there have been concerns that tourists would fall out of love with British seaside resorts and their piers, kiss-me-quick hats and sticks of rock.

But researchers at Sheffield Hallam University have found nothing could be further from the truth and holidaymakers have been rejecting sunnier climes in favour of a ‘staycation’ at home in resorts including those along the Yorkshire coast.

Tourism in seaside resorts in England and Wales has remained in good health, despite economic pressures, and researchers say more than 200,000 jobs are directly supported by tourism. Blackpool has nearly 16,000 of those tourism jobs, Scarborough has 3,800, Bridlington 2,300, Cleethorpes 3,200 and Whitby 1,900, according to the research. Report authors say many more jobs are supported indirectly by tourism.

The report, Seaside Towns In The Age of Austerity, was commissioned by British Destinations, an association of local authorities and tourism bodies. Peter Hampson, its chief executive, said: “The British seaside tourist industry has too often been written off as a relic of the past, and assumed to be on the same downward trajectory as so many other famous British industries.

“Anyone familiar with the resorts themselves knows this was always a myth and I’m delighted that the new figures from Sheffield Hallam expose the truth.

“Our seaside resorts still face challenges in adapting to changing tastes and travel patterns but, with the right support from Government, this is an industry that should have a bright future as well as an illustrious past.”

A plan to increase jobs and income generated by tourism in the Scarborough borough over the next decade was recently backed by councillors. It wants to increase the numbers employed in the visitor economy from 15,520 in 2012 to 18,625.

Coun David Chance, Scarborough Borough Council’s member responsible for tourism and culture, said yesterday: “Everything is looking positive for the borough as a whole.”

He said the real challenge was to encourage those who come for day trips to stay longer.

Janet Deacon, Welcome to Yorkshire area director for moors and coast, said: “Our coastal destinations have a really diverse offering, covering everything from surfing to Dracula – and of course famous fish and chips – which is hard to beat.”

Researchers say despite fears cheap air travel would encourage people to go abroad: “consigning British seaside resorts to the scrapheap of history, it is usually assumed” the team have found many still love British resorts.

The report says: “...despite the backdrop of economic austerity since 2008, the British seaside tourist industry remains very much alive and well. It has weathered the economic storm and, handled appropriately, should have a viable long-term future too.”

It does, however, find some places are faring better than others with Brighton and the South West area “advancing from strength to strength.”