Call for Seaside Tzar to save coastal towns
A SEASIDE tsar should be appointed to help Britain’s forgotten coastal towns fight back from decades of decay, according to new research, writes Louise Glen.
But the report, Creating Coastal Powerhouses, paints a grim picture of the problems facing many coastal communities, and does not reflect Argyll and the Isles, said Arduaine’s Calum Ross, a board member of VisitScotland.
From The Oban Times Facebook page, readers say the report is insulting and that no more gurus or tsars are needed.
Mr Ross, who runs Kilmelfort House Hotel, said: ‘I am on holiday on Mull at the moment, looking around me I think I like Tobermory the ways it is ... it doesn’t need to become a ‘ coastal powerhouse’.
‘I don’t think any of Argyll’s seaside towns can be put in the same box as Blackpool or Brighton. But having said that, all our coastal towns would benefit from additional investment.
‘If any money is to be made available, I would like Oban to get a share of it. It should be invested in infrastructure, transport connections (especially improved roads) and improved facilities for everyone who lives here and also for those who choose to visit this wonderful part of the world.’
The report, commissioned by the British Hospitality Association (BHA), said that people living in seaside towns are more likely to be poorly educated, unemployed, unemployable, lacking in ambition, claiming benefits and living in multiple occupation housing.
A separate survey, conducted by the owners of Butlin’s and the BHA, found that more than half of the British public have not visited the British seaside in the past three years, and 65 per cent believe that the British seaside is run down and in need of investment.
In Scotland, 245,717 people are employed in the hospitality and tourism industry, which contributes £137 million to Scotland’s economy.
Angus MacNeil, MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar ( Western Isles), said: ‘ With nearly half of Scotland’s population living within a few miles of the seaside, the coast is a fundamental part of both the Scottish economy and our livelihood.
‘I welcome the BHA’s report and urge the government to do all it can to support investment in one of this country’s greatest assets.’
The BHA report says that the collapse of shipbuilding and fishing, the decline of the traditional annual holiday by the seaside, growing drug use, and cutbacks in budgets affecting maintenance of public places, street cleaning, tourism promotion and the provision of education have all contributed to the situation.
The BHA wants to establish coastal action groups and investment in physical and broadband infrastructure.
David Adams McGilp, regional director VisitScotland, said: ‘ The seaside is always popular with visitors, but it is important that destinations offer products, services and experiences to satisfy market demand.
‘ Traditional coastal industries have changed and continue to change, and the social wellbeing of communities depends on a healthy economy.
‘ Tourism, recreation and leisure developments present potential growth opportunities around the marine environment, as well as improved facilities for local people.’