Oh they do like to be beside the seaside – to the tune of £2bn

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BRITAIN’S seaside resorts and coastal towns are providing a £2bn boost to the economy, according to a new report.

The report has been published to mark the start of British Tourism Week which is being launched with a series of parties across Britain’s piers and jetties today.

Nearly four million foreign tourists visited the British seaside in 2009, the study reveals, including thousands who flocked to the East Yorkshire coast.

Patricia Yates, co-chair of British Tourism Week, said: “This new report shows how our coastal towns and seaside locations are an important part of our appeal to overseas visitors.

“As we open British Tourism Week with parties on piers across the country this research reminds us all that visiting one of our great piers at a seaside town offers visitors a quintessential coastal experience which is unique to Britain.”

Of the 30 million overseas travellers who came to the UK in 2009, 13 per cent went to a coastal town or city.

Edinburgh was the biggest draw – attracting 768,000 foreign visitors – followed by Glasgow, Inverness, Liverpool and Brighton.

Germans were the most prolific coastal visitors – making over half a million visits, while there were well over 400,000 visits from French and American visitors. The coast is particularly important to Chinese and Russian visitors, one in four of whom are likely to visit it during a trip to the UK.

Much has been made in recent years of the decline of seaside resorts, but successive Governments have vowed to give them a fresh lease of life.

More than 16,000 foreign visitors are reported to visit Scarborough each year, worth millions to the economy.

Last week the Government announced its Tourism Strategy, with a target of attracting millions more foreign visitors to the UK over the next four years. Among its proposals was moving the May Day bank holiday to October to extend the tourist season.