WITH the wind and rain currently battering Bridlington, the summer already seems a distant memory.
After a rash of publicity earlier in the summer, from a national TV ad campaign featuring Harry Potter star Rupert Grint on Fraisthorpe beach, and the continuing popularity of the local landscapes painted by David Hockney, tourism bodies were hoping for a bumper season. The Free Press has asked businesses and tourism bodies for their view on how the summer season stacked up.
Andrew Aldis, general manager of The Spa Bridlington, said that this year had seen like for like ticket sales with 2011.
“The ticket sales are pretty much where they were last year, we have not really seen any significant rise or drop.
“The shows that have performed the strongest have been those outisde the Olympics. Our summer show has also performed well.
“Footfall in September is already up on last year with a few days still to go.
“The fact that we have had acts like The xx here this summer is testament to the hard work that goes in to making Bridlington a place to visit.”
Sylvia Wright, secretary of the Bridlington Tourism Association, who runs the Lincoln House guest house on Wellington Road, said it had been a “mixed season”.
“From a personal point of view, this has been the best summer I have ever had. It was very slow at first because people seem to have been booking at the last minute.
“I put that down to the economy, people possibly do not have the money to book earlier.
“I know some establishments have had a good season, some not so good, and some have not done so well.
“The Olympics took a bit of trade away - why would people come on holiday just to sit and watch the Games on their television?”
County wide tourism body Welcome to Yorkshire were heavily involved in promoting the national advertising campaign which encouraged people to holiday in Britain, and set up a Hockney Trail to exploit the artist’s popularity.
In the past, they worked with the now defunct Yorkshire Forward to produce detailed visitor statistics for the summer season, but since the Regional Development Agency folded they are now unable to do so.
However Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said the exposure could not be a bad thing for the town.
He said: “Bridlington has a rich history when it comes to tourism and I imagine thousands of us have our own fond memories of visiting. The town features prominently in our new coastal campaign, as we recognised the need to promote Yorkshire’s amazing coast. And combining that with the Hockney coverage and the inclusion in the national TV ad means Bridlington has been featured in some really wide ranging exposure this year.”
Susan Sugden, manager of Fudgetastic, on Cross Street said it had been the worst season she had known in the five years she had been working at the shop.
“It’s been horrendous. It’s been bad compared to previous years, we have had to half the staff and everything.
“When the weather is nice people tend to make their way to the beach so they don’t have to spend if they have two or three kids with them.
“The weather forecasters don’t make it any better, when they forecast heavy rain and it’s brilliant sunshine.
“It’s a shame because it’s a lovely little town and so many businesses rely on tourists. We do have our regular locals who use us but during the summer we do rely on certain people coming in.”
Emily Sharp, supervisor at Vanilla ice cream parlour, which has been based on Esplanade for around five years, said: “It’s not as busy as it normally is but the local people have been keeping us going. The locals have increased and they are coming in a lot more regularly.
“It’s not been that bad a season but the weather hasn’t helped. You would expect winter to be quiet and summer to be busy but last year winter was really busy and it’s been more steady throughout the year.”
Mark Endersby, who owns Discount Fashion Wear next door to his wife Valerie’s business Chic leather handbgas and accessories, on Promenade has put the quiet season down to the recession.
Mr Endersby said: “It’s been quieter than last year full stop but we are not down hearted. We are down on last year, it’s just the general recession and that’s it, it’s as simple as that.
“People just aren’t spending, it’s a sign of the times but how bigger businesses are getting on in town with these bigger rents I don’t know.
“We are fortunate here because we don’t pay big business rates because of the square footage of the shop.”
John Agnew, manager of Kapow Gifts, on Queen Street said: “There have been a few more people about. This is a good browsable type of shop and people do come in for a nosey around even if they don’t buy.
“I think people complain about the weather too much, I don’t think the weather has been that bad after those initial four or five weeks.
“Back in June we had quite a bit of wet weather after that for about five weeks we were quite warm, we have been quite lucky.
“People only have so many pounds in their pockets, there have been a lot of independent shops close down in Bridlington.”
“In my opinion it’s only a 15 week season here.
“If you add up all the holidays together and trade up until Christmas we are at about a third.
“You go to York, Blackpool or Edinburgh and it’s 52 weeks a year.”