With over 7 million day visitors each year and over 250,000 longer stay visitors, Southend has significant potential to secure further growth as a major tourism destination. Tourism gives the town its identity centred on its iconic Pier.
Recent developments have sought to build on this potential including new hotel developments, increasing the quality as well as the capacity of the hotel offer, upgrading of the seafront as part of the City Beach regeneration scheme (at Marine Parade), provision of new and upgraded casino facilities and investments in the leisure offer at Adventure Island theme park and lagoon at Three Shells beach. Further developments are planned at Seaway to attract more visitors to the town.
Tourism and the visitor economy is an important economic driver in the town supporting some 9,500 tourism related jobs. It is also an important economic driver for the adjoining town centre offering complementary leisure facilities including further hotel accommodation, bars and restaurants.
As part of a partnership approach involving the Council, the Southend Tourism Partnership and local business community, a strategy has been prepared to harness the tourism potential of Southend – ‘Destination Southend on Sea’ (2018). This seeks to work towards the ambition of making Southend ‘England’s leading coastal tourism destination.’
Good accessibility to the tourism areas of the central seafront is a vital ingredient in promoting and enhancing the tourism offer. A strategy to improve access to the town is currently being progressed, including seafront areas, particularly by train and reduce the problems of congestion to the Seafront car parks, including the potential of park and ride, improved technology and visitor information, improved road side signage and car park/traffic management. The recently adopted Southend Central Area Action Plan seeks to maintain a level of car parking provision in the central area to support the viability of the tourism facilities in the town. Wider accessibility to the town is also vitally important to the successful promotion of the local tourism industry.
To harness the tourism, cultural, leisure and recreational offer it is important that the Southend New Local Plan embraces and promotes this potential to the benefit of the town and the local economy.