Yorkshire seaside resorts 'must go beyond bucket and spade' to woo tourists

The arrival of the HMS Endeavour replica to Whitby in 2018 has been cited in a new report of how to make a success of Yorkshire's coastal heritage. Picture: Danny Lawson/PAThe arrival of the HMS Endeavour replica to Whitby in 2018 has been cited in a new report of how to make a success of Yorkshire's coastal heritage. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA
The arrival of the HMS Endeavour replica to Whitby in 2018 has been cited in a new report of how to make a success of Yorkshire's coastal heritage. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA
Yorkshire’s seaside towns must go “beyond the bucket and spade” to appeal to a new audience of tourists, a major new report by business chiefs and heritage bosses has suggested.

Celebrating Our Distinctive Heritage, which was commissioned by the York and North Yorkshire LEP and Heritage England, said more could be done to celebrate the history and variety of the region’s coastline.

It states: “At present, the relatively narrow focus of the coastal economy is somewhat self-limiting with a focus mainly on day-trip tourism.

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“Expanding the offer and attracting a wider range of visitors is important in broadening and deepening the value added as well as extending the season.

“At present, the diversity of the coastal offer is perhaps underappreciated, both by local people and visitors alike.

“These are far from homogeneous or one-dimensional places, and breaking through this misconception can be a challenge.

“The coastal area has some of the best landscapes and seascapes anywhere in England, and the quality of life that it can offer is hard to match in more urban areas.

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“Highlighting the potential for the area to provide a high quality, flexible and cost-effective base for start-up businesses and home-working has considerable potential to aid in diversification of local economies.”

The report says there is the potential to create a “diversified and specialist tourism offer, for example through diving at natural heritage assets and the large number of important wreck sites that line the coast”.

It says what can be achieved was demonstrated by the arrival of a replica of the ship that Captain James Cook used to sail to Australia and New Zealand arriving in Whitby in 2018.

The report states: “The power of events tourism has been well demonstrated, for example through the arrival of the replica of HMS Endeavour in Whitby – where it is now berthed as an attraction – which generated major interest and a significant increase in visitor numbers.

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"Creating links between attractions and critically engaging with the legacies of the region’s seafarers has potential to enable a range of events that can link to onshore heritage.

“Similarly, Whitby’s experience as a destination for niche heritage-related interests, Scarborough and Bridlington’s significant venue capacity and an ever-increasing high-quality food offer suggests that marketing the area to events organisers could have potential to further diversify the economy.”

It adds: “The burgeoning eco-tourism offer of the region’s seas has added an extra dimension to the visitor economy.

“There are clear opportunities to make links to maritime heritage and further expand the offer, drawing the links between the natural and cultural heritage of our coastal settlements.”

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The report also discusses the need to change the use of historic buildings in coastal towns to ensure they are fit for purpose for growing sectors of the economy.

“It is recognised that this is not necessarily a straightforward process for non-specialists and can appear daunting – both for local property owners seeking a viable future for their assets and for new business owners looking for premises in which to establish,” it states.

“A strategic approach to understanding the potential resource available and the issues and opportunities inherent in making such properties work for key sectors would be a valuable intervention.

“This could then allow targeted support and guidance, and potentially facilitate publicly/community-led exemplar projects to be developed and access funding streams. There may be a need to consider enhancement of harbour facilities to support diversification that would need to be sensitively managed to prevent erosion of historic character.”

Offshore renewables industry 'offers opportunities'

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Yorkshire’s growing involvement in the offshore renewables sector may also offer opportunities to highlight what the region has to offer, the report suggested.

The region has the largest wind farm in the world sited off Hornsea in the North Sea, with further expansion work planned. Hornsea One started supplying power to the National Grid in 2019 and is 75 miles off the Yorkshire coast in a location chosen because of its exposure to the wind.

The report states: “The region has already experienced substantial growth in the offshore renewables sector.

“There may be opportunities to apply the information gathered in the Environmental Impact Assessment processes relating to these developments to draw attention to the extensive marine archaeological resource off the region’s coastline.

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“Similarly, the aquaculture sector shows considerable promise and could benefit substantially from the area’s growing reputation for seafood – and from the availability of maritime skills from the fisheries and offshore wind energy sectors.”

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