Coastal Tourism

  • Pre-covid-19

Coastal Tourism in England:

  • Generated £13.7bn tourism spend
  • 21m overnight domestic visits, 169m day visits
  • Supported 210,000 tourism related jobs

Coastal Tourism in Great Britain:

  • Generated £17.1bn tourism spend
  • 27m overnight visits, 217m day visits
  • Supported 285,000 tourism related jobs

10% of all international visitors that arrive in UK go to coast

The Coast comprises a very high rate of SMEs (with less than 3% corporate brands represented)

Coastal Tourism in England is highly seasonal, but change was happening as a result of investment in research, product development and marketing:

Key challenges facing coastal communities:


  • Productivity
  • Investment
  • Perceptions (consumers, media and government)

Climate Change – coastal storms / flooding
Business ownership and investment

  • Large number of micro and small businesses – difficult to coordinate and deliver change
  • Prior to covid, 28% of businesses said they were “planning to sell / retire in next 5 years”

High dependency on Tourism average 15-20% of employment - but 50%+ in places like St. Ives, Exmoor, Whitby and Newquay

Socio-economic pressures on Coastal Communities

But there are opportunities:

Addressing seasonality and attracting off peak growth markets

  • International visitors
  • Domestic visitors - Wellness, Slow tourism, Business Events, Under 35s, Empty nesters (over 55s) and Active Experiences

Wider sector or coastal opportunities…

  • England Coast Path

Impact of Covid-19

Pre-COVID spend £13.7bn in England

2020 England – coastal impact of COVID-19

Based on July re-opening, loss of international travel and reduced capacity due to social distancing, November lockdown

Verified with National Business Survey data on capacity and revenue

  • 95m trips and day visits
  • £7.64bn loss in tourism spend
  • Equivalent of circa 131,000 jobs

2021 England – coastal impact of COVID-19

Based on closure Jan-Mar, partial April reopening, very limited international travel, reduced capacity and busy summer

  • 44m trips and day visits (-23% on pre-Covid-19)
  • £5.15bn loss in tourism spend
  • -37% on pre-Covid spend / 41% increase on 2020

Hotel Solutions forecast 20-25% of accommodation in coastal communities will close

Institute of Fiscal Studies - there “is no longer a north-south, or urban-rural divide… coastal areas are notably vulnerable to both the health and economic impacts of the crisis” – especially Isle of Wight, Torquay, Blackpool, Dorset and Northumberland

Other reports highlighting impact on coast

Centre for Towns, The Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on our Towns and Cities report 2020
Institute for Employment Studies, Labour Market Statistics June 2020: IES Analysis
Social Markets Foundation Report
HOPE not hate Charitable Trust, Understanding Community Resilience in Our Towns report 2020
Social Investment Business Group: Covid-19 Coastal Communities
The Place Bureau Report

Domestic tourism on the Coast

South west is the most popular region for seaside visits:

Visitor Profile demographics:

% of total trips

Source:GBTS 2019

Socio-economic group

% of total trips

Source:GBTS 2019

International visitors to the coast

10% visit the English coast at some point during their stay in UK

88% are on break of 4+nights (non coastal visitors = 55% on 4+ night break)


210,000 jobs worth £3.6bn (Sheffield Hallam University 2014) + 1% growth

Higher than average concentration of SMEs in coastal visitor economy

<3% corporate brands on the coast (National Coastal Tourism Academy 2015)

31% of residents work part-time → Net outflow of commuters (ONS 2014)

Contact details

+44(0)1202 093 429

Annual Coastal Tourism Forum 2016 */?>