The Yorkshire coast gears up for an event packed summer

PUBLISHED: 16:33 17 March 2014 | UPDATED: 16:33 17 March 2014

Whitby promenade

Whitby promenade

Archant

Hopes are high for a bumper tourist season along the Yorkshire coast, as the resorts gear up for a summer packed with events. Andrew Vine reports

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There’s an invigorating breeze of optimism blowing down the coast, a feeling in the air that this could be a very good year for our seaside resorts. That’s because Whitby, Scarborough, Filey and Bridlington sense that hard work and investment to make the towns brighter, better and more attractive for visitors is about to pay off.

Last summer was a good one for the towns, with healthy bookings for hotels and guest houses, and the tourism industry believes they will be even better in 2014. There has already been an early boost for summer bookings in Scarborough, thanks to Le Grand Depart of the Tour de France, which comes to North Yorkshire in July. Although its route does not take in the coast, demand for accommodation across the county is so high that the seaside is benefiting.

Janet Deacon, area director for Welcome to Yorkshire, said: ‘The ripple effect is starting to happen and people are starting to book on the coast, but we’re hoping to attract people coming for Le Grand Depart for a longer stay; a week and not just for the weekend.’

From north to south along the coast, there is a belief that more visitors can be attracted – among them people discovering the delights of our resorts for the first time, and that a vibrant programme of events is key to getting them in.

Whitby, with its charm, streets steeped in tradition and towering Abbey ruins, has already demonstrated how to attract a new breed of visitors with its Goth weekends. The Goths will return next month from April 25th to the 27th.

And new visitors to the town are expected at two music festivals - the Gospel Music Convention at Whitby Pavilion from May 16th to 18th and Whitby Folk Week from August 16th to 22nd.

Down the coast at Scarborough, the Queen of Resorts, music will also be drawing the crowds, especially to the Open Air Theatre, which has a packed programme of top acts, including veteran rockers Status Quo, Jessie J and Boyzone.

And on June 28th there is a very special concert at the theatre – a Last Night of the Proms which will be the climax to Scarborough’s Armed Forces Day, a resounding success last year in which the town saluted the bravery of our soldiers, sailors and airmen. Fingers are crossed that the Red Arrows will perform a flypast on the day.

Janet said: ‘Armed Forces Day is going to be a big one for Scarborough this year, and that’s where we support all the military families, invite them here and offer them discounted food and really have a celebration of the work they do for us. It’s grown and grown, and last year it was absolutely huge.’

And that’s an example of what our resorts are doing to attract new visitors in 2014, added Janet. ‘What we have been quite successful with, and it’s starting to grow for us, is being able to have that mix of the traditional seaside visitor that we’ve always attracted - and continue to attract - but then new markets are starting to emerge.

‘The Open Air Theatre has been a prime example of investment, and the Scarborough Spa, where the programme has been extended, again that’s attracting new audiences. The Stephen Joseph Theatre as well, they’re all attracting audiences from all over the place.’

Then, of course, there is Filey, the elegant Edwardian gem of a town, with its wonderful beach, the Brigg and its country park, all magnets for young families. ‘We have got three very diverse resorts,’ said Janet. ‘Filey with its beautiful beach that continues to attract young families and really becoming renowned for nature; Scarborough with its hustle and bustle and lots of entertainment; and then you’ve got Whitby, that traditional heritage town with excellent high-quality restaurants and quirky shops that attract people. There’s a lot to look forward to and businesses are very optimistic.’

They’re optimistic in Bridlington as well, where the signs that the resort is on the up are everywhere to be seen, not least at Sewerby Hall and Gardens which is celebrating its 300th anniversary. A £2.6m restoration to recreate how the house would have looked in 1900 is due to be completed in time for the summer. And on Promenade, a new leisure centre will soon be taking shape to replace Leisure World, boosting Bridlington’s traditional appeal to families.

The beach will also receive a big boost in time for summer, thanks to the scheduled completion of Yorkshire Water’s £42m outfall works to make the sea cleaner.

The president of Bridlington Tourism Association, Bob Hillery, said: ‘There is such a lot going on in Bridlington. It won’t all come to completion this year, but our current leisure centre is being demolished and there will be one of the best in the country to replace it.

‘We have the prospect of a new Premier Inn which will enhance our conference trade in the winter months. The Spa itself is newly refurbished at a cost of £23m and it’s one of the best theatre and conference complexes in the north of England.

‘Everything is just happening. There is massive investment coming into the town, and we’re very optimistic.’

Full details of what’s on in Whitby, Scarborough and Filey can be found at discoveryorkshirecoast.com and details of events in Bridlington are at visithullandeastyorkshire.co.uk

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