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Learn to like to be beside the seaside again

19 March 2007
Learn to like to be beside the seaside again

… says the Torbay Hospitality Association's Simon Lever, co-owner of the Daylesford hotel, Torquay

A report published this week by the Communities and Local Government Committee accuses ministers of ignoring the problems facing seaside communities.

MPs claim that problems have been exacerbated by social dumping - "DHSS tourism", as it has been dubbed - whereby unruly juveniles are relocated to seaside authorities without considering the serious potential consequences of their antisocial behaviour.

While this alone won't ruin the tourism trade, it is a serious issue. Every town has its problems, but people go on holiday to escape daily life, and factors such as this, combined with the abundance of cheap flights, have certainly seen British seaside resorts suffer.

However, despite the burden of ever-increasing Government red tape, there is renewed optimism for the sector. The traditional season is now considerably longer, and increasing numbers visit the coast during the winter. The business is changing.

The internet is playing a major part in changing the way Britons book vacations, but council-run tourism authorities need to work more closely with the enterprising private sector, which ultimately delivers the results and the prosperity.

Local councils should welcome visitors who travel by car and moderate their draconian parking regimes. Public transport, especially by rail, is unreliable and far too expensive. We should look outside the UK for inspiration, where there is a more relaxed approach, designed to encourage much-needed cash into local seaside economies.

Britons should look again at our natural gems. From the stunning north Devon coast, offering country walks and coastal exploration, to rugged Cornish coves, rolling sand dunes in Norfolk and Victorian Torquay, there's so much to offer, and all with no two-hour check-ins or cancelled flights.

Comments from our many foreign visitors are hugely encouraging. So are those from closer to home, although many question the lack of publicity directed to their regions.

The British seaside resort has been transformed over recent years to satisfy increasingly discerning visitors, both from within our own shores and from abroad. We need to shout louder about this.

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