A YouGov study has revealed a worrying 20 per cent decline in the number of people visiting the coast since 2005. The research we commissioned also found that over half the nation hasn’t had a single day trip to the coast in the last year.
A steady decline in the nation’s feelings of connectedness to the coast, particularly in young people, was also confirmed by the comparative study of 9,000 people over the last decade. Only one in seven 18-24 year olds felt that their happiest childhood memory is being by the sea, which is half the national average.
Not having enough spare time was given as the biggest reason stopping people hitting the shores. Other barriers were that the coast is too busy when the weather is nice, too expensive and lacks easy transport links. Many people said they would rather go abroad.
Island nation’s pride in the coast
Yet nearly 90 per cent of adults in England, Wales and Northern Ireland think of our coast as a national treasure, the research showed. And the majority of people agreed that it’s important for children to experience the UK’s seaside.
There was an overwhelming sense of pride and affection for our shores with over three quarters of people agreeing that our coastline makes the UK a better place to live and more than one in five day dreaming of the coast during everyday life.
‘The UK coastline is a magical place and can offer such a diverse range of experiences – from a coastal walk to rock-pooling and just feeling a sense of freedom when kicking off your shoes,’ said Gwen Potter, our wildlife and countryside ranger and coastal champion. ‘I think the coast offers a real sense of togetherness when you visit with loved ones, which is what makes it so special to me.’
Celebrating the coast
To reignite the nation’s love of the coast, we’ve got one of the country’s most celebrated poets, Dr John Cooper Clarke, to write the first half of a new poem, the ‘Nation’s Ode to the Coast’. We now want you to help finish the poem by sharing your memories and love of the coast using #lovethecoast.
To help the nation reconnect with the coast and get people planning their seaside visits again, we’re also bringing a little bit of the coast to cities across the UK. A full sensory coastal experience in the form of a giant shell, the ‘Shellsphere’ will radiate aromas of salty sea air and seaweed, the sounds of waves and seagulls and magical interior lighting.
Raising awareness of the role we play in caring for the UK coast, the Shellsphere will be embarking on a nationwide tour to London, Bristol, Cardiff, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Belfast from 19-31 August 2015.