Is our local economy is dangerously over-exposed to tourism?

“We can visit our fantastic local shops, hospitality businesses, entertainment and tourist attractions.”

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Some four years ago, the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan’s business group looked at what makes up ‘the Sidmouth economy’:

SID-VALLEY-NEIGHBOURHOOD-PLAN-BUSINESS-GROUP-EVIDENCE-jw-18dec16.pdf

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Sidmouth High Street with bunting and flags

The town’s MP has also been looking at the subject:

Much of our daily lives can continue where it is safe to do so. We can meet friends and family in up to a group of six. We can visit our fantastic local shops, hospitality businesses, entertainment and tourist attractions. Even so, the restrictions have born a heavy economic cost on particular sectors during the pandemic. After speaking with publicans and restaurant owners across East Devon, I couldn’t support the new restrictions on their businesses, including the 10pm curfew. 

I live in Sidmouth and the streets were quieter than usual during the summer despite the welcome influx of tourists, who helped many businesses survive after lockdown.

The Sidmouth Folk Festival is an important fixture in the East Devon calendar with talented musicians from across the world coming to town and bringing joy to the thousands of visitors who enjoy live music, dancing, crafts, food and drink. The town bustles with activity and it’s a huge boost for the economy.

Restrictions have born a heavy economic cost on some sectors during the pandemic – Devon Live

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Tourism is a key part of the Sidmouth and East Devon economy – and we have to be looking to a ‘new kind of tourism’ post-Covid:

The future of tourism in the West Country – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Looking to a new kind of tourism after the corornavirus – Vision Group for Sidmouth

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Especially as the current crisis has exposed the over-reliance of the local economy on the tourist industry.

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On the one hand, there’s anxiety over tourists bringing in the virus:

‘Crazy, isn’t it?’ Devon resort reports no shortage of visitors | Travel & leisure | The Guardian

On the other, there are fears that it won’t be enough:

Devon hotel industry reels as COVID three-tier system has ‘immense’ impact – Devon Live

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The East Devon Watch blog comments:

Owl has always believed that our local economy is dangerously over-exposed to tourism. It is an economic sector which provides seasonal and low paid employment. Future recovery plans must look to diversification. Not an easy task when tourism is so entrenched.

Hotel industry reels as COVID three-tier system bites in Devon | East Devon Watch

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As have these news pages:

Low wage seaside – Vision Group for Sidmouth

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Perhaps we need to reinvent ourselves:

From retirement home… tourist destination… low-paid economy… To a post-covid work-from-home culture and a new type of tourist industry

What is Sidmouth for? – Vision Group for Sidmouth

   
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