Inadequate digital skills can be a real barrier when it comes to growing visitor numbers, but Google’s new initiative aims to help seaside business take advantage of today’s connected world.
Technology giant Google has launched a new digital skills training programme to give businesses in seaside towns the digital skills needed to boost tourism.
The initiative, announced as part of the government’s new Digital Strategy, will offer seaside communities free face-to-face training that has been customised to cater for the hospitality and tourism industries.
The seaside towns digital skills tour will start in May and visit at least ten destinations on the British coastline.
Ronan Harris, managing director of Google UK & Ireland, said: “We believe that digital can have a transformative impact, no matter where you live and what your job is.
“Everyone deserves access to the tools and opportunities the web has to offer and that is why we welcome the government’s timely Digital Strategy, which ensures the benefits of the digital economy are spread across the country.
“We are delighted to be part of the Digital Skills Partnership and excited to expand our current free skills training offered with this new initiative in seaside communities.”
A recent NCTA survey found that four in five Brits admire the coast for its “beautiful, unspoilt beaches and coastline with lots of natural beauty”, yet more than half of them hadn’t visited the British seaside in the past three years.
The NCTA said this signalled an opportunity for coastal businesses to use the power of online tools to find new visitors, take advantage of the recent boost in staycations and even think about how to encourage more overseas visitors.
However, access to digital skills training is an issue and many popular coastal destinations are at a high risk of digital exclusion, with up to 20 percent of people in some communities having never been online.
Moreover, according to the Department for Communities and Local Government’s 2015 Index of Multiple Deprivation, nine out of ten of the most deprived neighbourhoods in England are seaside communities.
BHA chairman Ufi Ibrahim commented: “While we recognise the challenges facing many coastal communities, we also know there are fantastic opportunities to boost seaside towns and help even more people enjoy a Great British seaside holiday.
“We are delighted to partner with Google to help the industry tap into digital opportunities, reach more potential visitors from both the UK and overseas and turn the tide of coastal economies.”
Samantha Richardson, academy director at the NCTA, said: “The coast is the most visited overnight holiday destination for UK residents but has significant unrealised potential.
“Digital skills can be a real barrier to growth for some small businesses and this welcome investment from Google will go a long way to help them enhance their digital skills.”