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Seaside days out are on the wane

Published 12/08/2015

The UK coastline is seen as a 'national treasure' by the public
The UK coastline is seen as a 'national treasure' by the public

The number of people visiting the UK coastline for a day out each year has fallen by around a third in the past decade, surveying suggests.

Despite the vast majority of people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (88%) viewing the country's coasts as a "national treasure", only 42% had been on a day out to the seaside in the past year, compared to 62% in polling in 2005.

The latest polling for the National Trust also suggests there is a declining sense of being connected to the coast, with only 14% of 18-24 year olds saying their happiest childhood memory is by the sea, compared to 38% of over 55s.

Visiting the UK coast was a more significant feature of growing up for older people than the young, with 88% of those who are 55 and over saying it was an important part of their childhood, compared to 68% of the 18-24 group.

But the YouGov survey of 5,000 people carried out in July this year does reveal that the majority of people across all age groups had at some point played on the beach, walked along the coast, looked at the sea and relaxed and eaten fish and chips.

Around three-quarters of people said that being at the coast made them feel alive and closer to nature and being able to see the coast and the sea every day would make them happy.

It also found that nine out of 10 (90%) people agreed it was important to do more in the UK to protect the wildlife around the coasts and that the planning system should work to protect the beauty of the coastline.

The main reason stopping people visiting the coast more often was not having enough spare time, with 29% citing it as a reason, while 23% said UK coasts were too busy when the weather was nice, 18% said it was too expensive and 17% said transport was a problem.

To reconnect people with the coasts the National Trust, which is marking the 50th anniversary of its Neptune Coastline Campaign to protect the coastline, is bringing the coast to landlocked cities with a full coastal sensory experience in the form of a giant interactive shell "Shellsphere".

Gwen Potter, National Trust wildlife and countryside ranger, said: "The British coastline is a magical place and can offer such a diverse range of experiences - from a coastal walk to rock-pooling and just feeling a sense of freedom when kicking off your shoes.

"I think the coast offers a real sense of togetherness when you visit with loved ones, and this is what makes the coast so special to me."

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