THE seaside tourism industry supports 1,800 jobs in South Shields, according to a new study by academics.
Researchers at Sheffield Hallam University say more than 200,000 jobs are directly supported by the sector nationwide – more than the motor industry, aerospace, pharmaceuticals or steel.
The study, titled Seaside Towns In The Age of Austerity, was commissioned by British Destinations, the UK-wide association of local authorities and tourism bodies.
The report says: “In recent years, the view has become widespread that the British seaside tourist industry is in terminal decline.
“Since the rise of cheap air travel, the story goes, the British holidaymaker has turned his or her back on seaside resorts at home in favour of sunnier destinations further afield.
“This is consigning British seaside resorts to the scrapheap of history.
“Those who know Britain’s seaside resorts have long been aware that this simplistic view is far from accurate.”
Blackpool is still the biggest employer of seaside tourism workers, with nearly 16,000. Closer to home, seasonal tourism directly supports 1,100 jobs in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, and 1,000 in Seaburn, Sunderland.
Professor Steve Fothergill, co-author of the report, said: “Over the last few years, there has been plenty of media discussion about the rise of ‘staycations’ – holidays in Britain rather than abroad – but, so far, little hard evidence.
“Our figures show that the British seaside tourist industry has weathered the age of austerity very well indeed.”
Peter Hampson, chief executive of British Destinations, said: “This is an industry that should have a bright future as well as an illustrious past.”