SEASIDE destinations need to give visitors compelling reasons to visit, such as food and music festivals, regattas, air shows and carnivals.

That is the view of the Bournemouth-based National Coastal Tourism Academy (NCTA), which has researched the reasons why many people don’t visit the coast.

The research, supported by the NCTA’s partner Hertz, surveyed more than 1,500 non-visitors. It found nearly half perceived the coast as closed in the winter. Thirty-four per cent preferred overseas destinations and 22 per cent feared it may be too expensive.

Nine per cent thought it was too far to travel, despite the fact that no one in England is more than 70 miles from the sea.

Those surveyed often associated the coast with traditional resorts but were open to visiting once reminded about the breadth of possible coastal experiences – with harbour towns and the rural coast the most popular options.

NCTA director Samantha Richardson said: “The coast is an important part of the British culture, so it’s encouraging to see that even among those who haven’t visited the English coast in the past five years, there is an interest to come in the future.

“The challenge now is to provide them with reasons to come sooner and stay overnight.

“We might not be able to change the vagaries of the British weather but promoting the enormous choice of activities and events staged year-round and different types of experience to be enjoyed off-season, rather than focusing on the sun-and-beach image that resonates with the public, might seem a bold step but could reap huge benefits and redress the ‘closed in winter’ perception.”

The research also revealed that many people who did not stay at the coast did still visit for day trips. The academy said providing day trippers with a reason to stay overnight was another key opportunity.

Richard Davies, general manager of Hertz UK, said: “We are very pleased that we are helping the coast reach its full potential by supporting the NCTA with this important work.

“With our extensive footprint of locations in coastal towns and cities across the UK, we see this new partnership as a logical fit and trust that, with the support of companies like Hertz, further coastal growth will be achieved.”