It’s the age of staycation in Norfolk and Suffolk
- Credit: IAN BURT
The number of jobs dependent on seaside tourism has continued to grow despite the so-called age of austerity, according to a new report.
The study by a research team at Sheffield Hallam University provides the first hard evidence to support the rise of the staycation - the notion that cash-strapped families are increasingly holidaying at home again in preference to taking trips abroad.
Despite the worst recession for generations, researchers using government statistics found that the number of jobs supported by seaside tourism across Britain grew from 207,000 in the years 2006-08 to 212,000 in 2010-12.
The sector showing the biggest growth was campsites and short-stay accommodation where the number of jobs grew from 28,000 31,000.
Across our region, the figures underscore the enduring economic importance of the traditional seaside with Great Yarmouth ranking seventh in the report's national employment league table of 121 resorts, generating 5,400 tourism-supported jobs.
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The study identifies significant tourism-related jobs right around our coast from Lowestoft (1,700) and Kessingland (1,400) to Cromer (1,200), Sheringham (600), Wells (500) and Hunstanton (1,300).
While tourism-supported jobs in Yarmouth make up only 16pc of the total employment market, some smaller coastal communities are almost entirely dependent on the industry; in Hemsby 800 tourism-related jobs represent 79pc of the total while in Hopton 1,100 represents 85pc.
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Chris Scargill, tourism and leisure partner at Larking Gowen, chartered accountants, said the jobs figures underlined the powerful draw of 'the eclectic mix of seaside locations on offer in Norfolk and Suffolk for both locals and visitors alike'.
In a rallying call, he said it was imperative that the whole region worked together to create an even more vibrant tourism industry.
He said: 'Norfolk and Suffolk easily have the capacity and appetite to tap into the success seen in some of the report's boom areas. These have benefited from their visitors being drawn from areas that throughout the recession have shown economic resilience – such as the South of England.
'Just as areas such as Brighton benefit from ease of access, the long awaited completion of the dualling of the A11 will inevitably create an economic boost for our region. But we should not rest yet. We need to maintain pressure on the other key routes such as the A47 which desperately needs improvement - and our train services are well short of being able to offer the speed of access seen in Brighton and along the south coast.'
Professor Steve Fothergill, who co-authored the report, said: 'Over the last few years there has been plenty of media discussion about the rise of staycations but so far little hard evidence. Our figures show that so far the British seaside tourist industry has weathered the age of austerity very well indeed.
'The survival of a large seaside tourist industry should be good news, not just for most seaside towns but also for UK plc.'
Researchers believe their figures provide powerful evidence that the British seaside tourist industry is alive and well and that view is endorsed by Pete Waters, brand manager for Visit Norfolk.
He said: 'Just looking at the large crowds on our seaside from Hunstanton round to Yarmouth and Gorleston since the summer school holidays began demonstrates the enduring appeal of a traditional break by the coast.
'We're fortunate in Norfolk to have more than 90 miles of unspoilt coast, with enormous beaches and excellent visitor facilities, from accommodation to attractions, and that's one of our strongest suits.
'What we're also seeing is a return to investment in tourism facilities, which will help future proof the visitor economy.'
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