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Seaside tourism 'alive, well and growing'

British seaside tourism is still alive and well, according to a report from academics today.

The seaside tourism industry in England and Wales employs as many people as the whole of the telecommunications sector, the report by Sheffield Hallam University found.

The industry employs more people than those working in the motor industry, the aerospace industry, pharmaceuticals or steel, the report from the university's centre for regional economic and social research revealed.

Looking at 121 coastal resorts, the report found:

:: The seaside tourist industry in England and Wales directly supports some 210,000 jobs and large numbers of additional jobs are also supported indirectly through the supply chain;

:: The Blackpool area has the largest single concentration of seaside tourist jobs - more than 19,000;

:: As many as 58 individual towns each have at least 1,000 jobs in seaside tourism;

:: Since the late 1990s, employment in the seaside tourist industry has increased by about 1% a year - an overall growth of 20,000 jobs;

:: The estimated value to the economy of the jobs in seaside tourism is around £3.6 billion.

Professor Steve Fothergill, who led the team producing the report, said: "That a large seaside tourist industry has survived and adapted is good news, not just for seaside towns but for the British economy as a whole.

"Leisure and tourism is a growing market. What our figures show is that, even in the face of stiff competition from holidays abroad, Britain's seaside towns have been able to retain and even expand much of their core business.

"The British seaside tourist industry remains a major employer. The new Government should make every effort to ensure that the industry delivers its full potential in the coming years."

Peter Hampson, director of the British Resorts and Destinations Association, said: "People who follow the fortunes of the British seaside tourist industry have always known it is a myth that the industry is in terminal decline, but we have not had the comprehensive and convincing evidence to prove otherwise until now.

"Britain's seaside resorts face challenges in responding to changing economic circumstances and consumer tastes, but what the Sheffield Hallam report tells us is that, in many places around the coast, the seaside tourist industry is still alive and well - and growing.

"The seaside tourist industry has been written off too often. This report highlights its resilience."