British Seaside Resorts Hoping for Domestic Boom When Reopening Is Safe

Publish Time:2020-05-21 09:18:42Source:Skift

【Introduction】:Britain’s seaside towns are hoping that the inaccessibility of international travel this summer will mean a surge in domestic tourism — but with social distancing, any boost will still be modest.

On a cloudless May morning, the seaside resort of Great Yarmouth on England’s east coast looks postcard perfect, but it’s deserted – the shops are shuttered and the beachside carparks closed. A scattering of lone joggers and cyclists make their way along the promenade, known as the “golden mile”, while one beach hut serves takeaway coffees and ice-creams.

While the UK has begun its first tentative steps towards easing lockdown restrictions, foreign leisure travel is still expected to be off the table for some time. Could a gradual reopening of the economy throw a lifeline to Britain’s struggling tourism industry, provided the virus is brought under control when the peak school summer holiday season begins?

For now, Great Yarmouth and the county of Norfolk hope the first weekend since the government began to relax travel restrictions in England doesn’t bring an influx of visitors. Visit East of England’s website alerts users “now is not the time for tourism”, and the region is not alone in issuing such warnings.

Turning people away from England’s eastern counties is not a position Pete Waters, executive director for Visit East of England, ever expected to find himself in, given its importance for the local economy.

“The Norfolk visitor economy is bigger than Cornwall’s,” Waters says with some pride, listing the county’’s attractions from seaside resorts and boating on the Norfolk Broads to the city of Norwich. The industry, he says, contributes £3.3bn to the county’s economy, providing employment for almost a fifth of the population.

“Tourism businesses are desperate to reopen provided it is safe for residents and visitors, and as long as it is financially viable to do so,” said Waters. Herbert Gray and his father, also called Herbert, have prepared their confectionery shop Sweet Sensation for the first weekend of trading since the end of February. The counters and serving windows are now covered with perspex screens, all payments will be contactless, and purchases delivered through a hatch.

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