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Decline of the British Seaside Resort Industry Report (Assessment)


According to Williams (2008, p. 10), a seaside resort, also referred to as a beach resort, is a hotel located along a coastline. Such geographical locations are major tourist attractions around the world. There are many seaside resorts around the world. Examples of such resorts are those found in the United Kingdom. They include, among others, Cromer, Skegness, and Weymouth.

The resorts in the United Kingdom have remained some of the most popular around the world, especially in the 19th and early 20th centuries. However, the tourist industry in this region has declined sharply over the years. The decline is the major focus of this paper. In the paper, the author analyses the various factors behind the decline and, at the same time, provides recommendations on the same.

According to the Wales Tourist Board (2011, pp. 38-50), the number of resorts has declined by approximately 28%. The number of visitors, on the other hand, has dropped by almost 40 million. There are many reasons behind the decline of the industry from the 19th century to date.

Specific Causes of the Decline

Williams (2008, p.19) opines that competition from other resorts around the world is the major cause of this decline in the number and performance of United Kingdom’s resorts. He contends that ‘counterpart’ resorts in other countries offer a wide range of services that attract a large number of tourists.

The services offered involve reduced holiday packages. In addition, the operations of the other resorts are adequately organised with an aggressive promotion campaign. There are readily accessible booking venues across the world.

The growing economy of the United Kingdom has led to the emergence of alternative and more interesting sites like holiday villages and theme parks. Williams (2008, p. 21) contends that the rapid growth of such sites has offered people an alternative venture besides the seaside resorts.

Visitors are fetched from far-flung stations due to adequate rail and road network connecting urban areas. The development, especially during the industrial revolution, enabled the lower class to travel far and visit interesting places like seaside resorts (Agarwal 2010, p. 39).

The evolution of inexpensive automobile engines in the 20th century enhanced accessibility of the United Kingdom’s seaside resorts, resulting into a boom in the tourist industry. However, with the change in demographics, modernism has greatly influenced the seaside resort industry. The industry has recorded a decline in growth due to changes in consumer preferences (Agarwal 2010, p. 41).

In the recent past, deterioration in the quality of services, as well as the facilities in the resorts, has contributed to the decline. Most of the facilities are outdated, dating back into the 1880s. The originality of the features the tourists are exposed to has depreciated, which is another cause of the decline (Giddens 2010, p. 76).

Apart from the specific factors highlighted above, there are other direct or indirect factors that have caused the decline. They include, among others, cultural changes, modernism, and post-modernism. Some are discussed in detail in subsequent sections of this paper.

Other Causes

Cultural Change in the Twentieth Century

Williams (2008, p. 87) argues that culture varies from one society to the other. A high culture tends to uphold unique and distinct practices. As such, people tend to associate themselves with such a culture, raising the status of the tourist destination therein.

Such cultural factors have significantly influenced the growth of the seaside resort industry in the United Kingdom, especially in the early 19th century. The decline in culture has proportionately led to a decrease in the number of tourists in the region, especially from the early 20th century.

Barker (2012, p. 383) simplifies the term ‘culture’, explaining it as the transformation of the ordinary instead of the elite members of the society. In this case, there is distinct spread and exchange of ideas. Such practices attract tourists to the resorts. Lack or inadequacy of such practices has reduced the number of tourists visiting the seaside resorts.

Culture and Economy

There is a complex relationship between culture and economy. Culture is seen as a way of presenting economic processes in the society. According to Goodall (2009, p. 53), culture is a symbol that is mostly associated with class and profits.

For instance, some countries are well known as tea or coffee consumers, while others are known as producers of the same. Generally, this is a culture associated with them and such trends promote the economy from a cultural perspective.

Cooper (2011, p. 59) argues that the decline in the UK seaside resort industry is partly attributed to cultural transformations associated with the oil crisis experienced in 1973-74. The crisis led to restructuring of cultures as adaptive mechanisms. Cooper insists that the phenomenon led to what is referred to as modernity and post modernity.

Modernism and Postmodernism


Post-modernity, as well as modernity, are used to describe the periods within which culture has transformed. According to Shaw & Williams (2007, p. 91), modernism, as an agent of transformation, is based on four traits. They include industrialism, surveillance, capitalism, and military power.

Industrialism is referred to by Shaw & Williams (2007, p. 97) as a change from natural consumption to man-made, or what Barker (2012, p. 134) refers to as artificial. The seaside resorts in Britain have experienced the same process. The change from natural to man-made processes has influenced the state of the resorts, leading to a decline.

Surveillance is another aspect causing a decline in the UK seaside resort industry. Information is controlled based on reservations. People tend to have their own preferences as far as information is concerned. As such, information regarding the seaside resorts is minimal compared to what is known about other resorts. Hence, tourists tend to visit places that are known than places they have little information about (Goodall 2009, p. 20).

Capitalism and military power played a role in shaping the seaside resort destination in the 19th and 20th centuries. Capitalism initiated production, where people became private owners of properties.

Military power, on the other hand, resulted into the formation of a defined state. All these factors affected the seaside resorts in Britain. When people became private owners of property, the resort industry, as a whole, was ignored, leading to a decline (Cooke 2011, p. 109).


According to Pimlott (2011, p. 81), postmodernism was taken for granted during its inaction period. It has resulted into what Pimlott describes as culture of writing and substance.

The postmodernism process has shifted the mind of customers from writing and substance culture (Pimlott 2011, p. 81) to image and surface meaning. The mentality has sharply decreased the popularity of British seaside resorts as a tourist destination.

Another important aspect that contributed to the decline of the seaside resort industry in Britain is what Lash (1990, p. 71) refers to as post-fordist. The shift in the mode of employment, for instance, from manufacturing to service industry, led to the development of negative attitudes towards the resort industry. The attitudes led to a massive decline in the growth of the industry.

It is now clear that the decline in the UK’s resort industry is due to a number of factors discussed in this paper. At this juncture, the author provides several recommendations touching on measures that will attract more tourists to the seaside resorts.


Having discussed the factors leading to the decline of the UK seaside resort industry, the author now provides recommendations aimed at improving the performance of this sector in the future. The author adopts the Butler’s Model used in analysing the tourism cycle.

According to Giddens (2010, p. 102), the model proposes six stages in the cycle. The six are:

  1. Exploration.
  2. Involvement.
  3. Development.
  4. Consolidation.
  5. Stagnation.
  6. Decline or rejuvenation.

The British resort industry is actually on the sixth stage. It is at this stage that the industry is supposed to either remain ‘declined’ or rejuvenate. The author of this paper has detected stagnation in the grown of the resorts due to competition and emergence of other resorts.

There are other compelling factors that have led to the decline. Operators of the British resorts need to analyse the issues that led to stagnation. Such issues include loss of the original features that make up a famous resort (Lash 1990, p. 83).

What operators of British seaside resorts need to do is to focus more on the rejuvenation process. The decline varies from one resort to the other as far as the pace is concerned. There are a number of factors involved in the rejuvenation process. Some of them are discussed in subsequent sections of this paper.

The private and the public sectors need to inject cash into the resort industry to improve the facilities and enhance their popularity. In this case, the government can implement strategies that will enable the industry to recover from the decline stage.

Promoting local tourism is a strategy that the government and the private sector can employ. Local tourists will enhance the growth in the number of international tourists. The operators should also engage in massive promotions around the world (Butler 2008, p. 82).

The geographical location of many resorts in Britain makes them accessible by air. As such, it is important to enhance air transport network using travel agents and tour operators. The enhancement will reduce travel expenses in these areas and, in the long run, boost the industry.

An important fact to note is that cooperation and coordination is a requirement in improving the resort industry. It entails tourism agencies, either private or governmental, carrying out tourist operations, as such improving the sector. Intermediaries like advisors and tourist agencies are important in promoting the resort industry (Butler 2008, p.99).

Finally, the cultural trends studied in this paper needs to be understood further to create a clear picture on the needs and preferences of tourists (Barrett 2008). Cultural transformation has resulted into a situation where different people have different preferences. The variation should be regarded as an opportunity to improve the UK’s seaside resort industry.


The writer of this paper analysed possible causes of the decline in the UK seaside resort industry. Recommendations were made on the same. The writer noted that emerging ideologies and changing world economies have seen some resort sites being ignored and, eventually, losing their glory.

It is from this perspective that the writer conclusively analyzed the causes of the decline. It was made clear to the reader that the aforementioned issues need to be tackled to revive the industry.


Agarwal, S 2010, The public sector: planning for renewal in the rise and fall of British coastal resorts, Routledge, London.

Barker, C 2012, Cultural studies: theory and practice, Sage, London.

Barrett, J 2008, The seaside resort towns of England and Wales, University of London Press, London.

Butler, R 2008, Introduction to change in tourism: people, places, processes, Routledge, London.

Cooke, P 2011, The changing urban and regional systems in the UK, Sage, London.

Cooper, C 2011, ‘The environmental consequences of declining destinations’, Environment, vol. 18 no. 1, pp. 10-200.

Giddens, A 2010, The consequences of modernity, Policy Press, Cambridge.

Goodall, B 2009, Coastal resorts: development and redevelopment, Built Harvester, New York.

Lash, S 1990, Sociology of postmodernism, Routledge, London.

Pimlott, J 2011, The Englishman’s holiday: a social history, Hassocks, London.

Shaw, G & Williams, A 2007, The rise and fall of British coastal resorts, Sage, London.

Wales Tourist Board 2011, Tourism 2000: prospects for coastal resorts, Cardiff Wales Tourist Board, London.

Williams, S 2008, Tourism geography, Routledge, London.

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