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  1. Published on: 21/05/2020 11:19 AMReported by: rogerblaxall
    Nearly seven percent of coastal tourism businesses have already been forced to close due to the current pandemic and the value of the coastal tourism industry could be almost halved according to the latest figures from the National Coastal Tourism Academy (NCTA).

    Giving evidence to MPs on the impact of COVID-19 on the sector this week, Samantha Richardson, NCTA Academy Director, said: “Assuming retail can reopen 1st June and hospitality businesses 4th July, we forecast that the economic loss of coastal tourism spend in England for 2020 will be £7.96bn, and some analysts are predicting a loss of 20 to 25 percent in accommodation stock.“

    Nearly 74 percent of businesses are temporarily closed and when they do open, most expect to operate at between 40 and 60 percent capacity, squeezing profit margins further. The peak months of July and August are crucial to coastal businesses, this is when nearly 30 per cent generate more than half their annual turnover.

    “We know that many businesses having survived the winter were in need of Easter bookings and the start of the summer season to recover,” she said.

    However, positively, according to research consultancy BVA BDRC’s weekly consumer tracker, there is now strong demand for a break to the coast; rural coast is the top choice with seaside and harbour towns in the top five preferred options.The increase in interest could provide an opportunity for the coast to attract entirely new audiences and give businesses a chance to tackle the problem of seasonality as many consider opening longer into the winter season to recoup losses.

    To achieve this though, businesses and coastal destinations will need to develop new products and experiences. For example, previous research by the NCTA found that only 21 percent of under 35s were interested in a coastal getaway.

    Recent consumer research during Covid-19 by BVA BDRCsuggests that millennials are most likely to book a break in the UK, giving coastal destinations an opportunity to adapt to meet the needs of this market.

    Camping and caravan sites, holiday and lodge parks and self-catering providers look set to do well, recording increases in both enquiries and bookings since the easing of restrictions.

    In her evidence to the Government’s DCMS Select Inquiry, Ms Richardson provided a series of recommendations to MPs to aid long-term recovery for coastal towns. These included providing resorts with as much notice and guidance as possible before reopening, ongoing financial support for businesses and destinations, and a minimum three-year recovery programme to help set the coastal tourism economy back to pre-Covid levels.
     

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