Prosperous Torbay Taking all the Accolades

Reports of the death of the British seaside resort have been greatly exaggerated, claims a new study released recently – with award-winning Torbay, Devon’s self-styled ‘English Riviera’, particularly buoyant.

Thriving Torbay

According to team of economists at Sheffield Hallam University, the seaside tourist industry in Britain supports more jobs than sectors such as the motor industry, aerospace and telecommunications, and continues to grow.

The study flies in the face of popular myths surrounding the demise of our seaside towns. The report revealed the English Riviera’s tourism economy is thriving, employing around 9,000 people, and is in the top four seaside destinations in the country - behind Blackpool, Bournemouth and Brighton.

The Mayor of Torbay, Nick Bye, welcomed the revelations.

He said: "It's welcome news. The team at Sheffield Hallam University is very credible. We hear so much nonsense about seaside tourism being on its knees. This is a very optimistic report.

"We never really had this evidence before. It's great to see we're in the top four seaside resorts in the country.

"We ignore the importance of tourism at our peril. To keep going, we have to provide what people want and invest in the Bay."

Fawlty Towers?

Some of Torbay’s largest hoteliers have reported up to 80 per cent occupancy rates throughout the year, with 100 per cent in the months of July & August – shattering the fallacy of coastal ghost towns and deserted beaches.

The credit crunch, and more recent issues with volcanic ash clouds, have seen the steady rise in holidaying in the UK maintained. According to figures released by Visit England, 2009 saw a 13% increase in spending by holidaymakers in England. In the case of Torbay in particular, it’s easy to see why the industry is flourishing.

Torbay cleaned up at 2010’s Blue Flags and Quality Coast Awards (QCAs), scooping fourteen awards (four Blue Flags and 10 QCAs) for the cleanliness and quality of its beaches. Such recognition puts the holiday spot firmly on the map and is another real fillip for the Devon bay, its businesses and, most importantly, its visitors.

One of only eight geoparks in the UK – internationally-recognised territories of ecological, archaeological or cultural value - Torbay comprises three renowned resorts, each offering something different and with over 20 quality beaches spread along 35km of coastline.

Continental Charm

The almost-Mediterranean town of Torquay is its kingpin, favoured by families and clubbers alike, while also boasting a Michelin-starred eaterie in the shape of The Elephant Bar & Restaurant. Pretty Paignton and the small fishing town of Brixham in particular offer quieter alternatives. Pastel-coloured fishing cottages and elegant white villas dot Torbay’s seafronts and marinas, as palm trees sway in the sea breeze. It’s difficult to believe you’re in the UK.

An abundance of holiday accommodation seals the deal - from budget to luxury, including holiday flats, bed & breakfasts, apartments, guest houses, hotels and self-catering cottages.

With such continental charms on our own shores, it’s not hard to grasp why British seaside resorts remain vibrant. Torbay is in the Champions League of British seaside destinations – and it’ll take some beating.

Sean Cummins

July 2010

Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015