Monday, June 28, 2010


The Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University has just released another important report which should be of significance to policymakers in Wales.

Entitled "The Seaside Tourist Industry in England and Wales Employment, economic output,
location and trends", it examines the myth behind the decline of British seaside resorts and, significantly, has some pertinent facts about the situation here in Wales.

In Wales, 20,800 jobs are directly supported by seaside tourism, which generates around £280 million in economic output every year.

During the last decade, seaside tourism employment has, contrary to popular myth, actually increased by 1,300 jobs in Wales. However, this is modest compared to the South West of England, which has experienced for more than half of the estimated growth in seaside tourism jobs in England and Wales.

Th principal seaside resorts in Wales (i.e. places with a population of at least 10,000 where seaside tourism is a significant component of the local economy) remain Llandudno/Colwyn Bay/Conwy (4,600 seaside tourism jobs) and Rhyl/Prestatyn (1,900 seaside tourism jobs).

However, one mustn’t forget that much of West Wales (both North and South) is highly dependent on seaside tourism as the main source of private sector employment and wealth creation.

For example, seaside tourism share of direct employment within some of these towns as a percentage of all jobs is as follows:

  • Borth (73%)
  • New Quay (59%)
  • St David’s (57%)
  • Abersoch (57%)
  • Tenby (53%)
  • Barmouth (49%)
  • Saundersfoot (49%)
  • Harlech (44%)
  • Porthmadog (43%)
  • Benllech (34%)
  • Criccieth (33%)
  • Aberaeron (29%)
  • Pwllheli (23%)
  • Fishguard (21%)
This, of course, does not take into account the number of indirect jobs which are, in turn, dependent on seaside tourism, and the authors also speculate that, through indirect jobs, multiplier effect of these jobs and other factors, there may be up to a further 40,000 jobs being generated within Wales as a result of seaside tourism.

Hopefully, I will have time to examine the individual implications for each of these towns at a later date.

According to the report, there are a number of important conclusions for the Welsh seaside tourism industry. First of all, it suggests that, unlike popular myths, the Welsh seaside tourist industry is not in the terminal decline painted by the popular press, although some regions, such as the South West of England, seem to be doing better than us in terms of job creation.

More importantly, it shows that, far from being on its last legs, the seaside tourist industry is still alive and well and, handled appropriately, should probably have a long future too.

As the authors state,

“What the figures in this report show is that the large British seaside tourist industry is deserving of policy attention – and probably support – in its own right. The industry is an important national asset. Furthermore, in so far as British seaside resorts are in competition with destinations abroad (which must to some extent be the case) an extra visitor to the British seaside rather than abroad is good for the national economy as whole. Because air travel carries a large carbon footprint, an extra UK visitor to the British seaside is also likely to be good news for the environment. That a large seaside tourist industry has survived and adapted should be good news, not just for seaside towns but also for UK plc. The challenge is to ensure that it delivers its full potential in the coming years”.

And for UK PLC, read Wales PLC too. The question is what our politicians and policymakers are going to do to ensure a sustainable future for an industry that remains critically important to some parts of Wales that would find it difficult to attract other types of jobs in the future.