Monday, October 17, 2005


Did you notice? British Beach? That is “British” right?

A tourism chief has come up with plans to charge beachgoers up to £4 a day to sunbathe.
Malcolm Bell, who heads South West Tourism, said a trip to the seaside was a cheap day out for families compared with going to the cinema or a theme park. He did not feel that members of the public would mind paying up.

Mr Bell cited Bournemouth as an example, saying up to 100,000 people visit the beach on a hot day. That could generate £300,000 for the local council that owns it, and the cash could be poured into improving beach facilities. But his views have angered other tourism organisations. Trade body UK inbound, which represents businesses who bring around 60 per cent of visitors into Britain, accused Mr Bell of taking away one of the few free pleasures left to holidaymakers.
Mr Bell unveiled his plan at environmental charity Encams' annual conference in Bournemouth.
He explained the charge could cover the cost of car parking, beach cleaning and lifeguards.
He told delegates: 'A day on the beach is relatively cheap compared with a trip to a multi-screen cinema which could cost £25 for just a couple of hours' entertainment.
'If a family goes to a leisure centre or swimming pool they could pay anything between £10 and £60. 'I believe the public would be willing to pay more to get more but they would have to see improvements and be able to see where their money is being spent.'
He went on: 'both visitors and local people want better toilets and facilities like showers.
'If we presented it right and delivered more, I don't think many people would object to paying perhaps £2.50 or £3. 'For that charge the beach would have to be well maintained and safe. It would be good value for money and all the revenue generated would go to improving the environment.'
Tim Stoke, director for Encams, said his organisation was also looking into a 'visitor payback' scheme. He said: 'A beach in Cornwall has already introduced a scheme whereby the car park receipts are used to pay for lifeguards, a beach ranger or cleaning costs.
'A cafe in Devon gives customers the option of paying an extra 5p on tea or ice cream. Money raised goes towards managing local wildlife areas. 'It is all about encouraging visitors to give something back if they appreciate an attraction. It could take various forms, such as a donation box. 'People would not be forced to pay and it certainly wouldn't be a tax in tourism.'
But Stephen Dowd, chief executive of UK inbound, condemned the proposals.
He said: 'I think it is a dreadful idea. It is great that in this country you can go to the beach for free and a lot of European countries that used to have private beaches are now coming round to that idea. 'As far as people in this country are concerned, we pay enough for everything else so why take away one of they few pleasures left?'
Hmmmmmm Is this a Halloween prank? TRAVELSAPIEN can't imagine.