Support the Yorkshire coast and do our duty for tourism - Jayne Dowle

YORKSHIRE expects every citizen to do their duty.

As well as looking out for each other, this means making the effort to visit our glorious coastline – safely of course – in the next 12 months, and shop local and support local businesses when we get there.

That’s my excuse for fish and chips, and I’m sticking to it. Assuming everyone is fit and healthy and the caravan park isn’t suddenly locked down, we’re off to Thornwick Bay, near Flamborough, this weekend.

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It will probably be our final flourish of freedom in this awful, anxious and overwhelming year, a chance to walk, think and process. There’s nothing like staring out to sea to bring about a much-needed sense of perspective.

Jayne Dowle and her family are looking forward to visiting Thornwick Bay. Photo: James Hardisty.Jayne Dowle and her family are looking forward to visiting Thornwick Bay. Photo: James Hardisty.
Jayne Dowle and her family are looking forward to visiting Thornwick Bay. Photo: James Hardisty.

We’re packing the wellies and the waterproofs, but this time I’m banned from taking the slow cooker pot of home-made chilli. My husband, who is usually responsible for nursing this traditional “first night meal” all the way from our house in South Yorkshire to the east coast, has finally put his foot down. Literally. On our last visit in July I braked sharply near Stamford Bridge and half the steaming contents spilled over his shoes.

I told him that if I’ve learned one thing from holidays on the Yorkshire coast, it’s to be prepared, especially where food is concerned. I’ve spent far too many evenings trailing about with two children in tow, trying to find somewhere decent, clean and affordable to eat after 7pm.

Deride me for my fancy ways if you like, but we tend to eat what might be considered “late”. I’m sure my family is not alone in this habit, but there’s nothing more soul-destroying than finding your only choice is a kebab.

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With the new requirements to book a table way in advance and limits imposed by social distancing, eating out is only going to become even more of a challenge.

Thornwick Bay is a popular spot along the Yorkshire coast. Photo: Bruce Rollinson.Thornwick Bay is a popular spot along the Yorkshire coast. Photo: Bruce Rollinson.
Thornwick Bay is a popular spot along the Yorkshire coast. Photo: Bruce Rollinson.

If our tourism industry is to consolidate the boom in staycations this year – and Yorkshire is very near the top of the national wish-list – it must make a concerted effort to respond to heightened customer expectations.

I’ve worked at the sharp end in pubs and restaurants and have total respect for good owners and managers. However, since coronavirus restrictions were put in place, I’ve seen some establishments rise to the challenge admirably and others use the pandemic as an excuse for poor service and terrible food.

Often, I’ve found that the small, independent businesses try the hardest because their livelihood totally depends upon it. This goes for hotels and accommodation too.

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It would be such a shame if this chance to capitalise on the new-found appeal of holidaying at home was lost. Difficult and challenging it may be, but here is the opportunity of a lifetime to introduce whole new groups of people to the joy of the Yorkshire coast and underpin the regeneration it could so clearly benefit from.

Whitby remains a charming seaside town - in all weathers.Whitby remains a charming seaside town - in all weathers.
Whitby remains a charming seaside town - in all weathers.

Sad to say, our seaside towns needed all the help they could get before coronavirus struck. Whilst domestic tourism is obviously a priority, diversification of other industries is of paramount importance.

To this end, Scarborough and Whitby have recently applied for up to £50m in government funding to support a number of economic regeneration projects. These include a £5m renovation of Scarborough harbour, and £10m to build and set up the Whitby Maritime Academy.

If you want to see the impact of investment, look no further than Bridlington which is being transformed by its redevelopment. For too long, certain Yorkshire seaside towns have suffered from an inferiority complex, whilst others – notably Whitby – have found the confidence in their rich heritage to reinvent themselves.

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However, as any resident of Whitby will tell you, it’s fair to say it has become somewhat a victim of its own success. It’s important, if we are to be responsible tourists, to respect residents and also, to look beyond the obvious. There’s something for everyone along our 120 miles of coast from the Tees to Spurn.

What I hope for in return is a spirit of welcome and co-operation from local people, councils and other authorities. I’ve been concerned to hear about several instances where visitors have felt unwelcome or deterred by red tape and restrictions.

I’ve not been to Staithes in a while, but from what I’ve heard about car parking there, I might be reluctant to pay a visit. The reported difficulties with the parking app mean that people are ending up with fines of £60 even if they are trying to follow the rules. This kind of controversy sends entirely the wrong message to visitors and should be addressed.

Meanwhile, I’m counting the days to Thornwick Bay. And I’m even happy to jettison the chilli. We’ve found a superlative fish and chip shop between Bridlington and Flamborough. It’s the one thing I haven’t minded queuing for this year.

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Thank you

James Mitchinson

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