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DCMS Select Inquiry into the Impact of COVID-19 on Coastal Tourism

Northumberland workshop

This week the National Coastal Tourism Academy provided oral evidence to the Government’s DCMS (Department of Culture, Media & Sport) Select Inquiry into the impact of Covid-19, representing coastal tourism alongside representatives from VisitBritain, the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, National Trust and the British Holiday and Home Parks Association. 

While the impact of the pandemic on tourism and hospitality has been devastating, the effect on the coast has been profound and it will take time to recover. Providing evidence gave the Academy the opportunity to inform cross-party MPs not only of the current scene but of what support is needed in order to recover. 

Analysis of business surveys around the coast indicates that almost seven percent of coastal businesses are now permanently closed. Nearly 74 percent are temporarily closed and only 57 percent feel they would be able to reopen and adhere to social distancing if permitted on the Government’s conditional date of 4th July. In addition, most businesses expect to reopen at 40-60% of their capacity 

Based on this data and if retail is permitted to open 1 June and hospitality businesses 4 July, we forecast that the economic loss of coastal tourism spend in England will be £7.96bn. 

While this sounds bleak, there is little doubt that there is strong demand from domestic consumers for a break to the coast and this could open up entirely new audiences as well as an opportunity to tackle seasonality as many businesses open longer this year to try and recoup losses. Previous research into the holiday aspirations of under 35s found that only 21 per cent were interested in a coastal getaway. Recent consumer research during Covid suggests millennials will be the first market to recover, we now have an opportunity to change perceptions in coastal areas that can adapt to meet the needs of this market. 

Also positively, camp and caravan sites, holiday and lodge parks and self-catering are recording high levels of interest and bookings alongside sectors like adventure travel. 

To read more of the detail behind the oral evidence, including a lot of detail they didn’t get a chance to share and our requests from Government, read the National Coastal Tourism Academy's oral evidence summary here

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