Warning of long-term damage to seaside towns and tourist destinations

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The much-needed public avoidance of seaside resorts and other towns that rely on the tourism industry could severely impact on their economies, councils are warning.

Many communities reliant on holiday seasons could become ‘ghost towns’ as people obey guidance to stay at home, sparking a call for more help for these areas.

The District Councils’ Network, which represents councils for many of England’s tourist and culture locations, says authorities are working with businesses to help them get by but that more help is needed.

It is calling on the Government to support local efforts to avoid permanent scarring as a result of the lockdown, and to protect the future livelihoods of workers reliant on busy summer months.

The organisation wants the Government to increase future high streets funding for all towns and expand the Hardship Fund to respond to rising demand and enabling councils to help solve problems.

Coun Mark Crane, lead member for stronger economies at the District Councils’ Network, said: “Some of our finest, most picturesque and beautiful tourist villages and towns, including those rich in cultural importance and heritage, face an unprecedented challenge.

“These are places dependent on seasonal demand in order to survive, which are usually guaranteed large numbers of visitors week in week out, but this year this is sadly unlikely to be the case.

“With people rightly staying away to minimise the spread of infection, this could have a devastating impact on many places that rely on the tourism industry.

“There’s a real risk that if they don’t recover, our tourist towns could become ghost towns. It will also put huge pressure on families suffering lost income and high unemployment.

“Districts councils know our businesses, our restaurants, our cafes and our attractions, and we know our residents. We are doing all we can to support them, but whatever the time of year our tourist towns will need further help and investment to ride out this storm.”

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