British seaside industry shouldn’t be written off

FOR years people have been saying that the British seaside holiday is dead and buried. Those advocating this view have pointed to the growth of cheap flights abroad through the Nineties and Naughties. Why would you want to holiday in a British resort where you would be served dreadful food, it would rain for seven days and then be charged a small fortune for the privilege? Brittany Ferries is even currently using the slogan ‘Why have a British summer when you can afford a French one?’ on its adverts.

In truth, things have moved on a long way since Fawlty Towers, and the bad service offered by proprietor Basil Fawlty, hit our TV screens in the 1970s – British seaside resorts have grown up and are ready to welcome guests with open arms. I’ve just had a great weekend camping with friends on the south coast. We experienced the stunning coastal scenery near Lyme Regis in Dorset and then moved on to the charming seaside resort of Sidmouth in Devon. The food was great, the weather scorching and the staff in pubs and restaurants were friendly. And I didn’t even have to endure a rough overnight crossing on a ghastly car ferry.

A new report from academics at Sheffield Hallam University suggests that that Britain’s seaside tourism industry has not only survived, but is in fact growing. It directly supports 210,000 jobs plus large numbers indirectly through the supply chain, contributing £3.6bn to the British economy. The industry in England and Wales employs as many people as the whole of the telecommunications sector.

You don’t need to look very far in any of our seaside resorts to see that the industry has adapted to survive – B&Bs are clean and serve great breakfasts using the finest locally sourced ingredients, many cafes have ditched the instant coffee and serve the finest blends from around the world, and restaurants have much more on the menu than just fish & chips.

At a time when private, rather than public, sector growth is needed more than ever before, the strength of the seaside industry will be welcome news for the new Government. We are at a point where we can truly say that our resorts are ‘open for business’ – we need to do all we can to market the individual towns to foreign visitors. If they become as bustling as Lyme Regis and Sidmouth were at the weekend, then we are on to a winner. And we will also start to reap the benefits.

Brittany Ferries claims that ‘France is not only a truly magical holiday destination’ and with their great it is easy on the pocket as well’. But I for one will be enjoying Britain this summer.

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