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Holiday park accused of ‘exaggerating’ visitor numbers by posting photo of Finnish beach

PUBLISHED: 13:02 03 June 2020 | UPDATED: 08:43 04 June 2020

Waxham Sands Holiday Park. Photo: Adrian Judd

Waxham Sands Holiday Park. Photo: Adrian Judd

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A holiday park has been criticised for “exaggerating” the number of weekend visitors by using stock photos of busy beaches - one of which was taken in Finland.

The original post - before pictures were removed. Photo: FacebookThe original post - before pictures were removed. Photo: Facebook

Waxham Sands Holiday Park issued a statement on its Facebook page on Monday, June 1, stressing that people “flooded to the coast at the weekend” and that “social distancing does not seem to apply around our area”.

According to social media manager and head of security at the park Fred Folkes, a series of four now-deleted photos he attached to the post were meant to be an indication of “just how full the coast round here was”.

But a reverse image search of the pictures showed one was taken at Sea Palling on Independent Lifeboat Day in August 2019, and another was taken at Yyteri Beach in Finland - featuring on a Guardian article as far back as 2016.

This led to accusations the park was being “misleading” in suggesting visitors were unable to respect social distancing guidelines.

The picture, now deleted, shows a Finnish beach near the city of Pori. Photo: FacebookThe picture, now deleted, shows a Finnish beach near the city of Pori. Photo: Facebook

One frequent beach visitor and business owner in the area, who does not want to be named, said the post could have damaging consequences for businesses which, in the coming months, would be dependent on responsible tourism for revenue.

“This could give a false impression that the beach is dangerously overwhelmed,” she said. “But people are respectful and last time I visited, the place was almost empty.”

In response, Mr Folkes said: “I can assure you the coast was very full and we had security on duty at our entrance all weekend keeping people out.

“At no point in my post did I say the pictures were from last weekend - but that they were pictures from our area.

The picture, now deleted, shows Sea Palling Beach in August 2019. Photo: FacebookThe picture, now deleted, shows Sea Palling Beach in August 2019. Photo: Facebook

“If you feel that my account of the amount of people visiting is inaccurate then why not contact the Bacton Coast Guard service, who commented on how busy the area was?

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“I like seeing people at the coast but do not like the rubbish or the urinating on our property, or people trying to enter our park when we have four signs saying ‘closed’”.

When asked about the pictures, and the fact that one was a cropped stock photo from a beach in Finland, Mr Folkes said that he “understood the pictures to be local” but would remove them now he had been made aware of their true origin.

Waxham Sands updated their Facebook post this morning after we got in contact and deleted the photographs attached to the post. Photo: FacebookWaxham Sands updated their Facebook post this morning after we got in contact and deleted the photographs attached to the post. Photo: Facebook

Head of Security Fred Folkes said that there were plenty of signs and barriers warning people the park was shut last weekend, but families Head of Security Fred Folkes said that there were plenty of signs and barriers warning people the park was shut last weekend, but families "ignored them anyway". Photo: Fred Folkes


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