Tide turns for all-weather visits to coast

The Harbour at Staithes, out of season. 'Picture by Gerard Binks
The Harbour at Staithes, out of season. 'Picture by Gerard Binks
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IT SPANS 36 miles along the edge of the North York Moors National Park, and takes in some of England’s most breathtaking scenery.

But the coastal path from Saltburn, through Staithes and Robin Hood’s Bay and almost as far as Scarborough, is the destination for too many fair weather visitors, tourism officials say.

They unveiled a new package of funding yesterday aimed at promoting the area as an all-year attraction for the likes of heritage seekers and “honeymoon hikers”.

A previous push, between April 2015 and last December, was found to have increased visitor numbers by more than 100,000 and the amount they spent with local businesses by around £2m.

The government’s Coastal Communities Fund, set up to help in generate jobs and improve businesses prospects in seaside towns, is now pumping another £257,000 into the area, as part of the National Park’s two-year “moor to sea” programme.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has said that the fund has created more than 3,000 jobs nationally, 6,800 apprenticeship places and safeguarded 864 roles.

The previous North York Moors initiative, involving £455,000, saw an inflatable, “pop-up planetarium” erected to promote autumn and winter stargazing, as part of a Dark Skies festival.

Catriona McLees, head of promotion and tourism at the North York Moors National Park Authority, said it had led to “greater collaboration between tourism providers and practical, actionable suggestions”.

Officials say that although it is difficult to attribute the increased visitor numbers entirely to the project, “the uplift occurred during a time when no other major initiatives or promotion of the North Yorkshire coast were going on”.

Ms McLees said: “This time we’re focusing on particular activities and sectors that will encourage greater visitor spend and more year-round custom.”

She said themed activities would promote the appeal of the coast to “niche audiences such as faith and heritage tourists, outdoor adventurers, creative retreaters or honeymoon hikers”.

Britain’s 150 seaside resorts are estimated to employ 250,000 people and to contribute £4bn to the economy. The Coastal Communities Fund claims that local business activity by coastal firms could bring an eight-fold return on investment by taxpayers.

Communities Minister Mark Francois said: “We’re determined to unleash the enormous potential of our great British coast.

“We’ve already helped more than 200 projects get up and running, protecting or creating up to 18,000 jobs.

“With every pound we invest having the potential to create an up to £8 boost to our coastal economies, that’s money well spent.”

Two years ago, the fund handed Scarborough £2.7m to redevelop its historic town market as an outlet for 30 business entrepreneurs and as a showcase for local food produce.

Plans for the latest funding will be outlined to businesses at a meeting in Sandsend next month.

A spokesman said: “The National Park will also share how it intends boosting the tourism economy by re-presenting activities in a way that engages new audiences as well as promoting days out using sustainable transport such as cycling, walking or the train, and targeting high-spending sectors such as the celebrations market.”