Pubs, bars and restaurants can help revive seaside towns

By Stuart Stone contact

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Sea-change: 'To help seaside towns prosper, it is vital that businesses like pubs get all the support they can to drive growth' says the BBPA's Brigid Simmonds
Sea-change: 'To help seaside towns prosper, it is vital that businesses like pubs get all the support they can to drive growth' says the BBPA's Brigid Simmonds
Industry bodies UKHospitality (UKH) and the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) have welcomed a new report by the House of Lords Select Committee on regenerating seaside towns and communities.

Titled The Future of Seaside Towns,​ the report, to which both UKH and BBPA chief executives Kate Nicholls and Brigid Simmonds contributed, acknowledges that many seaside towns continue to rely on tourism and hospitality as key economic drivers.

The report’s summary states: “Seaside towns, by which we principally mean coastal settlements that emerged as leisure and pleasure resorts in the 19th century, have been neglected for too long. They should once again be celebrated as places that can provide attractive environments for residents and visitors alike.”

The report has recommended that a sector deal for tourism could be a game-changer in the regeneration of Britain’s seaside towns and proposes that further efforts are made to promote careers in hospitality.

“Young people in seaside towns are being let down and left behind by poor standards in existing provision, limited access to educational institutions and a lack of employment opportunities, resulting in low levels of aspiration,” according to the report. “Partnership work between schools, further education and higher institutions, and local business and industry will be vital in helping to create career paths, improve local skills levels and boost local economies. To this end, good teachers must be prized.”

The report also acknowledges calls from the hospitality sector that any future immigration system must allow industry’s businesses to have access to talent from abroad.

Calls to rule out a tourist tax

“Arguably the two principal issues facing seaside towns are the workforce and taxes,” Nicholls explained. “These can be seen as both opportunities and threats.

“The report identifies the challenge of the misconception of jobs available but also recognises the career opportunities that hospitality can provide.

“The right support from Government is going to be crucial in promoting jobs and the sector deal for tourism should be at its centre. The report identified flexible apprenticeships as vital to enticing younger people to live and work by the seaside. Hospitality has a huge role to play here and a lot to offer.

“One of the major barriers to growth in any high street, town or city centre, at the seaside or anywhere else is tax. Businesses are facing continually increasing bills that shrink margins and undermine investment. The rate of VAT in the UK makes hospitality businesses uncompetitive and business rates continue to place unfair burdens on hospitality and seaside businesses. The introduction of a tourist tax, which has been mooted by some local authorities, would put seaside towns back even further.

“If the Government is serious about supporting seaside towns then ruling out a tourist tax, lowering the rate of VAT for hospitality and the reformation of business rates into a truly fair system will help revitalise our seaside.”

Need to support pubs

“We welcome this report and its recognition of the leading role hospitality and tourism businesses like pubs can play in the regeneration of seaside towns,” Simmonds added.

“To help seaside towns prosper, it is vital that businesses like pubs get all the support they can to drive growth.

“It is encouraging that the report sees a sector deal for tourism as playing a key role in regenerating seaside towns and that efforts should be made to champion and promote careers in the pub, hospitality and tourism industries.

“Local licensing and planning authorities working together in support of the agent-of-change principle are also key to the future success of our seaside towns if they are to have a vibrant night-time economy.

“It is important too that local economic partnerships deliver on their core objectives to promote local economic growth and do not isolate coastal areas that are hard to tackle.”

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