Councillors of the Essex resort envision an uptick in longer-term stays as a means for post-pandemic Southend to get back on its feet. But operators, notably Martin Richardson, remains uncertain that the council will turn words into action.
The council in Southend-on-Sea are trying to look ahead with positivity past the current pandemic, and have released new plans for a project which they hope will transform the resort from a “day-trip” destination into a longer-term “staycation” spot for domestic holidaymakers.
Dubbed “Destination Southend,” the regeneration project is the product of input from both local legislators and a coalition of local businesses called the Southend Tourism Partnership, and seeks to capitalise on what is hoped will be a surge in staycation demand once the worst of the pandemic is finally over.
“We are seeing more and more people staying for a couple of nights,” hotelier and head of the local Seafront Traders Association Joan Tiney told the Southend Echo. “People would come to watch a show at the Cliffs Pavilion on Wednesday and stay until Friday, and since lockdown has lifted we’ve had no end of people staying coming in the pub and telling us they’re staying for three or four days at a time.”
“It’s been really difficult through the pandemic, so I definitely think anything they can do moving forward has to be a good thing,” she went on. “I’m just hoping and praying we come out the other end.”
And whilst a second nationwide lockdown has no doubt put something of a crimp in room bookings at Tiney’s outfit, data contained within the Destination Southend report may give cause for some cautious optimism once things return to some semblance of normality: with figures suggesting that just over half (51 per cent) of footfall to Southend is now represented by those staying for one night or more.
“They’ve been talking about making it a staycation town for a long while now,” he said. “We are and always have been a day-tripping town.”
“There’s no attractions on the pier and there’s no lights anymore,” he added. “Let’s fix what we have first before we look for new ventures.”