The summer is well and truly upon us as the recent heatwave has confirmed. Schools have broken up for the six weeks break and workers are taking their annual leave. The holiday season is here and, while many tourists will be taking the opportunity to go abroad after two summers of Covid restrictions, this promises to be a busy summer for resorts in the UK.
Despite the decline of the British summer holiday since its post-war heyday, day trippers and staying guests still flock to destinations around the country every summer. Coastal destinations are obviously particularly popular, and, in those towns, the tourism sector is a big driver of the local economy during the summer months. It is a sector that employs many people and the money spent by visitors, supports businesses across lots of different sectors.
What can all too often go unnoticed is the tremendous work that is done by local authorities in tourism destinations to keep the sector ticking over. Most destination promotions are funded and led by the council and its Tourism team, from developing a brand, to posting the adverts and getting articles placed in the press. The same goes for the provision of information to tourists, although mainly done online or via brochures but in some instances, information is collated and published in the Tourism Information Centres and distributed by officers working for local authorities.
The main draw to coastal towns is of course the sea and the beach. Maintaining those beaches is a year-round job and one that can easily be underestimated. Every year tonnes and tonnes of sand and shingle are moved back into place following winter winds, tides and storms. During the season plenty of maintenance work continues to ensure that beaches and promenades are safe and pleasant places to visit.
Councils provide and run many other attractions too. Galleries, museums, theatres, parks, playgrounds, public gardens and swimming pools and swimming pools all make up the mix of the local tourism offer and in most destinations it’s the local council that funds and runs these great attractions.
Events are a huge driver of visits. From concerts to food festivals and cultural displays to sporting events, each can bring in many visitors and spark expenditure in the local economy. Some of these events are arranged directly by councils and some are put on by other commercial or voluntary bodies, but none could run without the support of the local authority.
The hospitality sector is the big beneficiary of tourism spend and eating out or getting a takeaway is a cornerstone of a great day out by the coast. All the eateries, cafes and fish and chip shops are assessed for hygiene standards by environmental health officers from the council. It is the local authority for the area that ensures that the food that you are buying when on holiday or having a day out is safe to eat as well as being tasty and filling.
There are challenges to welcoming in large number of visitors and the most obvious one is the litter that’s left behind at the end of a busy day. The clean up operations conducted by council teams after a busy day are remarkable to witness. Litter, barbecues and overflowing bins are swept away, and scenes of near devastation are rapidly transformed back to the eye pleasing sites that tempted people to visit in the first place.
Over this hot and sunny summer great memories will be made and lots of fun will be had. Our colleagues in councils up and down the country will be silently but surely going about their business to ensure that your holidays and days out go swimmingly.