​The forecast’s looking bright!

Good news from VisitEngland! Their latest statistics show a four per cent rise in visits to attractions and a healthy seven per cent hike in trips to the coast in 2014 compared to 2013.

Better still, revenue was up by five per cent year on year, making tourism worth some £106bn to the English economy. Events like the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire and a boost in tourism thanks to TV and film locations have undoubtedly helped drive visits to coastal and rural areas, as highlighted at a recent Tourism Alliance meeting by Heather Wheeler MP, Parliamentary Private Secretary to Secretary of State John Whittingdale.

Farms and heritage centres enjoyed the most significant growth last year at 10 per cent, perhaps a reflection of visitors wanting to get back to nature and explore their heritage. VisitEngland’s research also emphasises the importance of investment and innovation in tourism provision and facilities.

Some 83 per cent of attractions now use at least one form of digital communication, beyond a website, and a quarter of sites in this year’s list offered an online booking facility for tickets and events – up from 21 per cent in 2013. The rise in smart marketing is reflected in our own recent report, 2015: Coastal Tourism, indicating that 28 per cent of businesses want digital marketing training and 72 per cent of visitors book accommodation online.

There’s further good news for coastal tourism - the National Trust has branded 2015 ‘The Year of the Coast’ to celebrate the nation’s deep love of our stunning coastline and commemorate the people-powered Neptune Coastline Campaign, launched 50 years ago to protect our shoreline.

The public’s being asked to submit their favourite “Sounds of the Shore” by 21 September with the public voting for their favourite. More than 400 recordings have been uploaded already, ranging from seal calls and oyster dredging to ferries and, most nostalgic and ubiquitous of all, the customary cries of a soaring seagull. Additionally the National Trust are also running a #LOVETHECOAST campaign (you may have seen the TV ad), in which they ask the public to share what the coast means to them.

With visitor and revenue up and a nationwide campaign wooing holidaymakers to the coast, the forecast for seaside resorts is looking increasingly sunny.

By Simon Hanney