Tourism body calls for sea change in coastal tourism

Plans have been unveiled to boost the multibillion-pound coastal tourism sector, in a bid to create more jobs and encourage holidaymakers to the seaside year-round.

The first ‘Vision, Strategy and Action Plan’ for the development of coastal tourism has been unveiled, and will be coordinated by the National Coastal Tourism Academy (NCTA).

Last year, coastal tourism regained its position as the largest domestic overnight holiday sector, worth more than £8 billion.

Coastal tourism is a significant employer, estimated to be worth £3.6 billion, making it similar in size to the telecoms sector – yet the coast has “significant unrealised potential”, says the NCTA.

Samantha Richardson (pictured), NCTA director, said: “By working together and with a concerted effort to raise awareness of the fascinating tourism product the English coast can offer, we believe economic growth on the coast – jobs and long term sustainable employment – can be achieved.

“Coastal tourism is a mixed picture across the country, with some coastal destinations thriving while others are achieving below average growth for tourism.

“The NCTA has spent three years examining the challenges on the coast – skills gaps, staff shortages, the problem of seasonality, public transport – as well as researching opportunities to develop tourism off-peak and we’ve identified key areas for growth that would work for the coast.

“Through this Vision, coastal destinations can work together to tackle issues that affect all coastal communities.”

Last year the NCTA staged the first Coastal Tourism Forum where more than 100 coastal destinations, tourism businesses and industry leaders discussed the need for a co-ordinated plan.

The new Vision is based on their recommendations and on the research of the NCTA, Bournemouth University, Sheffield Hallam University and others.

The Vision has four key objectives: to improve the visitor economy to support wider growth, to develop a quality experience with distinct activities, to foster greater collaborative working and to raise awareness of the coast’s offer.

The objectives are backed by a working group comprising industry leaders, business owners and tourism experts.