Page last updated at 13:14 GMT, Friday, 21 August 2009 14:14 UK

Unemployment hits seaside resorts

Weston-Super-Mare beach in August 2009
Unemployment is up in Weston-Super-Mare despite some sunny spells

Leading seaside resorts in England have been hit by above-average levels of unemployment despite the trend for "staycations", according to the TUC.

In the past year, the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance has soared by 130% in Bournemouth, 122% in Weston-Super-Mare and 113% in Weymouth.

The trade union body said unemployment was at "crisis level" in many of England's best-loved resorts.

This was despite more people holidaying in the UK to save money, said the TUC.

Its report also told of an 111% increase in the Isle of Wight, 110% in Minehead and 103% in Bognor Regis.

'National emergency'

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said an increase in tourism was not enough to help many seaside resorts beat the downturn.

"Many seaside towns have made impressive and imaginative efforts to regenerate themselves, and deserve real praise, but even the most ambitious scheme cannot buck the effects of such a deep recession," he said.

Maddy Savage
Maddy Savage, BBC News, Bournemouth

It's a gorgeous sunny day, toddlers are busy making sandcastles and children are gulping down fizzy drinks in the queue for the fairground rides.

But many people on the beach say they can barely afford an ice cream.

Some say the situation is hopeless, they have applied for dozens of jobs in the past year and have been given very little feedback on why they're not getting through.

Others admit they're surviving on cash-in-hand payments for odd jobs, because they're ashamed of going on the dole.

But among many workers in the town I spoke to, there was an attitude of genuine surprise that seaside towns are struggling.

One waiter told me his restaurant had taken on twice as many staff as usual this summer. But then again it's part of a large chain with a cheap menu. I've spotted at least two former cafes that are boarded up.

"Just as in the rest of the country, a whole generation of young people in seaside towns are finding it almost impossible to make the right start to their working lives."

The TUC study found other seaside resorts, including Southend and Margate, had experienced lower percentage increases in claimant levels but still had unemployment rates much higher than the national average.

It considered 20 seaside resorts and used studied joblessness data for the parliamentary constituency in which each is situated.

The average increase in claimant count across the country is 81% and several seaside towns, including Blackpool, Scarborough and Whitby, were below average.

The most recent figures released by VisitEngland show holidays taken by UK residents were up by 13% in the first four months of 2009.

It amounts to 1.2 million more holidays taken in England than in the same period last year.

James Berresford, chief executive of VisitEngland, said: "Time will tell if the trend for holidaying at home continues throughout the summer, but these early indications that people are rediscovering holidays in England is welcome news to the leisure tourism sector."

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