Coastal Communities Fund – safeguarding coastal tourism’s future

The importance of coastal tourism to the economy should be unequivocal. More than 11 million people live in coastal resorts, around 250,000 work in seaside tourism, and more than 150 resorts generate £4 billion to the Treasury.

But it’s the future of these communities that matters. So, earlier this month, it was reassuring to hear the Government announce investment of £8.5 million from the Coastal Communities Fund in 10 coastal towns in a bid to increase tourism, safeguard 1,400 jobs, create new flood defences and reinvigorate historic sites.

As a CCF-funded project, the NCTA has focused all its energies on understanding the nature of coastal tourism - how to boost the local tourism economy and create sustainable jobs. By contracting research, listening to the industry and analysing what makes a great visitor experience, we are starting to develop a national model.

Our recent shoulder season research revealed, for example, that 64 per cent of visitor attractions regard attracting new customers as their biggest challenge. So it’s particularly good news to see that five of the newly funded projects will provide year-round coastal attractions.

New projects include the renovation of a Jubilee Poole Lido in Penzance featuring a new restaurant and spa, generating 38 jobs and apprenticeships. Portsmouth’s historic Victorian Arches will be refurbished to provide exhibition space for artists, resulting in 105 new jobs.

A dilapidated 19th century Maltings building will be transformed into an arts and heritage space with auditorium, creating a year-round coastal attraction near Cromer, Norfolk, securing 95 jobs. Spurn Point in Yorkshire will see its iconic Matthew’s Lighthouse restored, a new café and visitor centre added along with new transport links, to address tourism seasonality. A derelict site near Lytham St Annes in Lancashire will be transformed into an art, sand and water play area with café, providing 11 new jobs.

As a further pledge to coastal resorts, David Cameron also announced this month an extra £3 million to encourage growth and jobs.

Coastal Communities Minister Penny Mordaunt commented: “Seaside towns are a strong part of this country’s heritage and have huge potential to create new businesses that provide jobs.

“They are an important part of the Government’s long-term economic plan and we are determined to help these communities reach their true potential.”

A sentiment no doubt echoed by all of us involved in UK coastal tourism.

By Sheron Crossman