A GOVERNMENT minister has said it is important to get overseas visitors out of London and visiting coastal towns like Bournemouth.

Tourism minister David Evennett was in the resort for the launch of a report showing seaside towns had reclaimed the top spot among domestic destinations for overnight holiday trips.

The report Coastal Tourism 2016 says seaside tourism is worth £8billion to the economy, with 13.7million seaside trips making up nearly a third of overnight holiday stays in England.

But it recommends resorts should work to attract more off-season visitors, develop health and ‘wellness’ breaks and reinvent themselves as business event destinations.

Mr Evernett said the report, by the Bournemouth-based National Coastal Tourism Academy, showed the strength of Britain’s coastal towns.

“It’s very important evidence to prove that our coastal communities have a huge future and we should get more tourists coming down to us,” he said.

“My job as tourism minister is to get more domestic tourists coming to see our coastal communities and great places like Bournemouth and to get some of our overseas visitors to get outside of London to see the sights and the culture of the seaside.

“It’s hugely undervalued and has been for a long time.”

Earlier this week, the government launched a £90m investment in coastal tourism projects through its Coastal Communities Fund. It is also inviting application for a £40m Discover England Fund to build ‘world-class’ tourism products.

Asked about the EU ferendum, Mr Evennett said a ‘remain’ vote would be better for the economy and jobs.

“I think it will be advantageous for my brief in tourism to be part of Europe, getting more Europeans to come over here to see what’s on offer in the coastal communities,” he said.

“I’m a big fan of Bournemouth. I’ve been here lots of times for conferences and visits and long walks. What we want to do is get more people from Europe to come and see what’s on offer.”

The report says seaside towns should do more to attract business events, since business travellers visit out of season and spend on average 72 per cent more than leisure travellers.

Mr Evennett could not say whether the Conservatives would bring their conference back to the town. The party has not held its autumn gathering in the resort since 2006.

“I always enjoy conferences in Bournemouth but it’s not my remit. It’s for the Conservative party organisation to make the decision. I’m here as a minister to promote the fantastic work that the academy has done,” he added.

n More on the Coastal Tourism report in Tuesday's Business.