Squeezed budgets ‘could see see a switch in the type of tourists heading to the East Coast’

The rising cost of living could put holidays to the East Yorkshire coast out of reach for some tourists but draw others in, including with affordable lobsters.

By Joe Gerrard (Local Democracy Reporting Service)
Tuesday, 31st May 2022, 2:45 pm
A report submitted to the committee stated 300 tonnes of lobster worth more than £4m was brought to shore in Bridlington in 2019.
A report submitted to the committee stated 300 tonnes of lobster worth more than £4m was brought to shore in Bridlington in 2019.

East Riding Council’s Environment and Regeneration Sub-Committee heard the rising cost of fuel and other essentials could see households cut trips to Bridlington and elsewhere out as budgets are squeezed.

But councillors also heard tourists who would typically go abroad may opt for holidays on the East Yorkshire coast if the popularity of staycations due to coronavirus continues.

It comes as councillors were briefed on ongoing work to tackle economic and social inequalities in towns on the East Yorkshire coast with the hope that tourism could fuel their regeneration.

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Events held out-of-season have brought in more visitors including the Sewerby Winter Wonderland which attracted 12,500, including 1,220 families from outside the East Riding.

Schemes include promoting Bridlington as the lobster capital of Europe through the Bridlington Bay initiative.

The council and others have invested more than £100,000 including on events such as pop-up lobster tasting and the Bridlington Bay Lobster Roadshow set for this summer and autumn.

The initiative aims to encourage the local fishing industry to supply restaurants with their catch, 80 per cent of which is exported overseas where it fetches a higher price.

The committee heard the council was trying to get restaurants and food vendors to sell cuts of lobster rather than whole portions to make them more affordable.

But they also heard the industry felt it lacks the means to separate lobsters out into smaller portions with the preference being for improving frozen storage to help grow stocks.

A report submitted to the committee stated 300 tonnes of lobster worth more than £4m was brought to shore in Bridlington in 2019.

But it also stated much of the lobster consumed in Bridlington was imported from Canada and most of its catch being exported meant it was not fulfilling its potential locally.

The report warned the pandemic’s knock to the fishing industry and uncertainties around Brexit raised serious concerns for the lobster strategy.

Councillors also heard efforts to get Bridlington Bay off the ground through a local festival were also scuppered by coronavirus, meaning efforts were now starting from scratch.

It comes amid what committee member Cllr Terry Gill said was a backdrop of deprivation that continues to hamper Bridlington and the coast’s fortunes.

The committee heard Bridlington, Hornsea, and Withernsea, along with coastal towns across the country, suffered from persistent health, employment, and other inequalities.

It also heard they stood in contrast to coastal communities overseas which are thriving because people want to live, work and visit them.

The report stated coastal towns, including those on the East Yorkshire coast, had some of the poorest health outcomes in the UK which coronavirus could worsen.

Ageing populations in towns such as Bridlington, which have seen an influx of elderly people settling there to retire, could also see local health services come under more pressure.

In Bridlington, the working-age population could drop from 52.1 per cent to 49.8 per cent by 2030 if current trends continue.

Data from the report showed Bridlington’s neighbourhoods were in the 20 to 30 per cent most deprived in the country on average.

It added 16.9 per cent of Bridlington households were in fuel poverty while 6.4 per cent of working age people in the town were claiming unemployment benefits as of November.

The report also warned climate change also posed a risk to local coastlines, with sea levels forecast to rise by 1m by 2100.

It also stated locals’ health could be harmed as extreme weather events like flooding and heatwaves become more common.

Councillors heard the rise in staycations during the pandemic had led to a massive boom for the East Yorkshire coast, bringing in around £16m.

The council-owned South Cliff holiday park was 95 per cent booked over Easter and is on course to be fully booked this summer.

Events held out-of-season have also brought in more visitors including the Sewerby Winter Wonderland which attracted 12,500, including 1,220 families from outside the East Riding.

But councillors heard people being able to travel abroad for holidays as coronavirus recedes could put efforts to encourage tourism to the coast in jeopardy.

Councillors heard the return of holidays abroad coupled with the cost of living crisis could change the profile of those visiting the East Yorkshire coast.

Families who usually take two-week holidays abroad may be drawn in for breaks locally instead.

But tourists who visit the coast typically come from deprived inner-city areas meaning holidays for them could be out of reach entirely as living costs continue to spiral upwards.