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Visitor numbers to UK coastline ‘fall by a third’

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The number of people visiting the UK coast has fallen by a third over the past decade, according to a National Trust report highlighting a worrying decline in seaside tourism.

Once thriving destinations that the nation would flock to, particularly in Victorian times, seaside towns are losing their ability to enchant the British public. An online survey of 9,000 people found that 42 per cent of UK adults said they visited the coast for a day out each year – down from 62 per cent in 2005.

Although 90 per cent of adults in England, Wales and Northern Ireland think of the coast as a national treasure, the report highlighted a steady decline in the nation’s feelings of connectedness to the coast, particularly in young people. Only one in seven 18-24 year olds felt that their happiest childhood memory was being by the sea, which is half the national average.

Lack of spare time was given as the biggest obstacle to people visiting the seaside, while other barriers cited included massive crowds when the weather is nice, being too expensive and lacking easy transport links. Many people said they would rather go abroad, with the proliferation of package holidays often highlighted as a contributing factor.

There have been several efforts in recent years to boost visitor numbers to the seaside, with David Cameron recently announcing a new strategy to entice UK visitors beyond London and boost regional tourism in the form of a five-point plan. Cameron cited the ‘Cornish Riviera’ as a particular draw for tourists and the prime minister himself has been know to regularly holiday there.

On the back of its latest findings, the National Trust is launching a new campaign to reignite the nation’s love of the coast.

In addition to a poetry initiative with Dr John Cooper Clarke, the Trust plans to bring a bit of the coast to cities across the UK through its ‘Shellsphere’ – a full sensory coastal experience in the form of a giant shell which will radiate aromas of salty sea air and seaweed, the sounds of waves and seagulls and feature eye- catching interior lighting. The Shellsphere will be embarking on a nationwide tour to London, Bristol, Cardiff, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Belfast from 19 to 31 August 2015.

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The number of people visiting the UK coast has fallen by a third over the past decade, according to a National Trust report highlighting a worrying decline in seaside tourism.
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The report highlighted a steady decline in the nation’s feelings of connectedness to the coast, particularly in young people
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