Reviving depressed seaside resorts

Many once popular UK seaside resorts have become depressed in recent years as visitor numbers have declined. Overseas holidays have become competitive on price and quality and hence more popular. The adverse economic and social impacts of this loss of business on coastal communities are well documented in reports including ‚’The future of seaside towns‚’, House of Lords Select Committee on Regenerating Seaside Towns and Communities, 2019.

However, in the summer of 2020 the Covid-19 lockdown was lifted in Britain but foreign travel remained restricted. UK tourism businesses were also helped by a reduction in VAT from 20% to 5% and postponement of Business Rates. Visitor numbers and spending rose during this period, even at depressed resorts such as Blackpool and Margate, demonstrating that there is a tourist market for UK seaside resorts, if their competitiveness could be improved.

A revival of tourism and tourist spending at UK resorts could help to improve local economies, creating more employment opportunities with consequent social benefits. These impacts, particularly in depressed areas away from London, could contribute to the achievement of the ‚’levelling up‚’ Government policy objective.

There may also be a contribution to reducing carbon emissions. If more UK residents take holidays within the country, air travel could be reduced. Travel abroad is likely to involve flying, while most domestic travel is by surface transport. Air travel produces more carbon and other greenhouse gases compared with surface transport, based on BEIS/Defra data presented in the article Climate change: Should you fly, drive or take the train? – BBC News. A shift away from air travel to shorter distance travel could therefore contribute to the achievement of the ‚’Net Zero‚’ Government policy objective.




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