Future of seaside tourism
VisitEngland is reviewing its Seaside Resorts Action Plan, produced in 2010 as part of the Strategic Framework for Tourism in England. Given the changes that the industry has faced since then, it's a necessary process if the objective of five percent growth in value year-on-year by 2020 is to be achieved.
I recently attended VisitEngland's ‘Future of Seaside Tourism’ debate as part of the International Festival of Business in Liverpool, where a panel of domestic industry specialists convened to review VisitEngland’s Seaside Resorts Action Plan, produced in 2010 as part of the Strategic Framework for Tourism in England.
First, as always, it's about clarifying the problem before you can crystallise a solution. And that problem is often unrelated to tourism per se; resort destinations are faced with the not inconsiderable challenges of poor perception and patchy awareness, coupled with the seasonality and social issues.
However, the solution could be tourism's potential to create new jobs in and around some of England's most deprived places. Our job, collectively, is to demonstrate this value to government, with case studies that substantiate the stats.
Helping seaside destinations has to be the first step. And that means giving a destination the tools to objectively audit, assess and identify where its real weaknesses are, (as a place first, a ‘resort’ second) before tourism development can become part of the solution. ‘Change makers’ are needed on the ground to drive forward solutions where there is belief as well as buy in from destination stakeholders. Job creation becomes more achievable when the importance of collectively improving the quality of the visitor experience is recognised and a robust destination management plan in place.
Collectively, by destinations working together, negative perceptions can be challenged, success stories can be shared, and downward trends can begin to be reversed.
By Alex Moss