Seaside towns worth �500m to the region

IT has been a weekend that has seen thousands upon thousands of people flock to the region’s beaches to make the most of the balmy summer temperatures.

And a report released today goes even further to demolish the myth that the traditional seaside tourist industry is dying.

With the effects of the credit crunch still biting and many people forced to tighten the purse strings, it appears that more and more of us are deciding to holiday closer to home.

The “staycation” is very much in fashion and, according to a report released by a team at Sheffield Hallam University, seaside tourism is a substantial and growing employer.

The industry is thought to add more than �500million a year to the regional economy, the research team found.

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In Suffolk, the sector is thought to support around 1,300 jobs in Lowestoft, 1,100 in Felixstowe, 900 in Aldeburgh and 600 in Southwold.

Meanwhile in Essex seaside tourism is thought to support 1,900 jobs in Clacton, 800 in Frinton and Walton and 600 in Harwich.

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Alex Paul, tourism manager for Choose Suffolk, said: “Suffolk is blessed with having some really beautiful seaside resorts which attract thousands of visitors each year.

“They are also diverse and can offer a wide range of holiday choices to visitors, providing an attractive, accessible and viable alternative to holidays abroad.

“This report demonstrates the vital role the county’s coastal resorts play in supporting employment and driving economic activity.”

Lisa Bone, strategic tourism manager with Visit Essex, added: “Essex’s coastal towns are not only surviving through the economic downturn but are thriving.

“The visitor economy is extremely important to these seaside towns and attracts over nine million visitors, generating over �580m and the industry employs over 13,000 people.

“Essex is renowned for its long and diverse coastline and attracts families and seal watchers alike.”

According to the report seaside tourism directly supports more than 23,000 jobs in the region and adds nearly �500m a year to the East Anglian economy.

Professor Steve Fothergill, from Sheffield Hallam’s Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, who led the team, said: “What our figures show is that even in the face of stiff competition from holidays abroad, Britain’s seaside towns have been able to retain and even expand much of their core business.”

Peter Hampson, director of the British Resorts and Destinations Association, said: “People who follow the fortunes of the British seaside tourist industry have always known it is a myth that the industry is in terminal decline.

“Britain’s seaside resorts face challenges in responding to changing economic circumstances and consumer tastes, but what the Sheffield Hallam report tells us is that in many places around the coast the seaside tourist industry is still alive and well – and growing.”

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