Coastal visitor numbers 'down a third'

Brighton beach Image copyright PA

The number of people visiting the UK's coastline is down by about a third in 10 years, a National Trust report says.

In an online survey this year, 42% of people said they visited the British coast for a day out each year - down 20 percentage points from 62% in 2005.

But the Coastal Connections Survey says the coast remains a "big contributor to quality of life and wellbeing".

The research, conducted by YouGov, was completed by 5,047 adults in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2015.

The report goes on to suggest that the reason for the decline in coastal visitors might be generational.

Its findings for the last 12 months include:

  • Those aged 18-24 are far less connected to the coast than those aged 55 and over
  • 24% of people from the West Midlands and 33% of those in the East Midlands have been on a coastal day trip
  • Londoners visit the coast much less than the rest of the south-east England, with 64% visiting the coast at least once a year, compared with 76% of those surveyed in that region
  • 54% of Welsh people had a coastal day trip during the year
  • 27% of people in Northern Ireland had a coastal holiday - three percentage points less than the national average of 30%
Image caption Of those who took part in the survey 42% said they visited the UK's coastline every year

The areas where people are least likely to visit the coast from are the Midlands (37%), London (33%), Manchester (36%), Sheffield (41%) and Nottingham (44%).

The biggest barrier stopping people from visiting coastal areas, the report says, is not having enough spare time - a reason given by 29% of people.

Other barriers are UK coasts being too busy when the weather is nice (23%), too expensive (18%), not having easy access to transport (17%) and preferring to go abroad than holiday in Britain (14%).

Of those who do go, 64% say they take their loved ones to generate "happy memories", while 61% say visiting the coast or seaside is important to having a good quality of life.

'Cheap package holidays'

Kate Martin, the National Trust area ranger at Formby, Merseyside, told BBC Radio 5 live she had noticed a decline in tourism in that part of the country over the last 10 years.

She said: "Ten years ago we were seeing around 450,000 people visit a year. I'd say that has dropped to about 250-300,000.

"It does seem to be a generational thing and that partly has come with the rise of cheap package holidays."

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Trust's Neptune Coastline Campaign - one of the longest running environmental campaigns in western Europe.

This has resulted in the charity managing 775 miles of coast in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, equating to over 10% of the UK's coastline.

The Trust is now asking the public to help poet Dr John Cooper Clarke complete a specially commissioned poem, using the Twitter hashtag #lovethecoast.

Correction 14 August 2015: This story has been amended to clarify that the decline in visitor numbers between 2005-15 - from 62% to 42% of respondents - equates to a third or 20 percentage points, not 20% as previously stated.

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