Locals in Skegness and Clacton-on-Sea say tourists being driven away

Cheap foreign holidays and the rainy British weather: Locals in Skegness and Clacton-on-Sea say tourists are being driven away by spiralling prices but insist they wouldn’t want to live anywhere else after the resorts were ranked

  • Residents have staunchly defended their hometowns from resort ratings  
  • Read more: Where does your beach rank? Make Skegness great again!

It might not be the south of France, but many of Britain’s coastal towns have a je ne sais quoi that cannot be matched.  

But several former holiday hotspots have been struggling to keep up with cheap foreign rates – while still battling the age-old problem of English weather.   

In particular, the once-proud seaside towns of Clacton-on-Sea and Skegness have now been ranked as the worst beach holiday destinations in Britain in a new survey, with spots including Burnham-on-Sea, Mablethorpe and Southend-on-Sea sitting just above them in the ranking of 118 places. 

Topping the table was Bamburgh in Northumberland, followed by Dartmouth in Devon, where a naval training college is based.  

But locals have furiously defended their hometowns as the best places for a cheap getaway and said they love living there, especially compared to more hectic cities.  

The once-proud seaside towns of Clacton-on-Sea (pictured) and Skegness have now been ranked as the worst beach holiday destinations in Britain

Nicola Irish, a life-long resident of Clacton-on-Sea, said she avoided going into the centre of town when the ‘drunks’ were out

Residents in Clacton-on-Sea said it was the kind of place where neighbours speak to each other in the street – although some admitted it desperately needed some looking after. 

Janet Styles, 67, told MailOnline: ‘Clacton is a lovely place to live.

‘The people are friendly and everything you need is within walking distance. We’ve only lived here for a couple of years but now I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

Her son Brad 25, added: ‘It’s great. It’s the kind of place where people say hello to each other in the street.’

Fiona and Bryan Gleave chose to move Clacton to get away from the hustle and bustle of town life and to be close to her elderly father.

Fiona, 61, told MailOnline: ‘We love it here. We moved here from Ipswich.

‘We wanted to live here for the slower pace of life and to closer to my father who is getting on.’

Her husband Bryan, 55, added: ‘I don’t know why anyone would not like Clacton, we think it’s great.

‘But I suppose if they think it’s awful I say: “Don’t come.”‘

Healthcare assistant Busola Ashaka has only been in Clacton for one week but she says she loves it already.

Fiona and Bryan Gleave chose to move Clacton to get away from the hustle and bustle of town life and love the sea-side town 

Janet Styles, 67, said the town was a lovely place to live and that people would stop to speak to each other on the street

Healthcare assistant Busola Ashaka has only been in Clacton for one week but she has fallen in love with the town already 

A picture taken on the seafront in Skegness, another of the UK’s worst seaside resorts, according to a recent survey

Ms Ashaka, 37, told MailOnline: ‘We have only been living here for one week but we love it.

‘The town is lovely and clean and we love walking on the beach. People are really friendly and everything is close by. We are happy to be here.

‘We moved here from London. I am pleased to be out of the noise and the dirt of London.’

A young mum, who had come to the seaside town from nearby Colchester added: ‘Clacton is a great place to bring the kids for a day out.

‘The beach is lovely and clean and there are loads of activities for the children to do.’

However, not everyone who lives in the town loves Clacton-on-Sea.

Lifelong resident Nicola Irish told MailOnline: ‘I’ve lived in Clacton all my life and now it is the pits.

‘The promenade and the pier are great.

‘But the town has become really run-down. It really needs money spent on it. If I have to come into town to go to the bank or something I come first thing in the morning.

‘Because by lunchtime all the drunks and druggies have woken up and the town centre is like the zombie apocalypse!

‘They’re lying the street, drinking, begging, it’s horrible!’

Locals in Skegness were similarly defensive about their hometown, although families said a day out had rocketed in price.  

Clacton-on-Sea is ranked joint bottom in the survey of 118 seaside destinations with a customer score of 48 per cent. Pictured: East Jaywick, near Clacton, recently named as the most deprived neighbourhood in England

Skegness, Lincolnshire, was voted as the worst seaside town in Britain with an overall customer score of 48 per cent 

Zoe Boon, 38, and husband David, 44, had ironically just returned from holidaying in the real Las Vegas.

Enjoyable a cheap doughnut snack with kids Felix, 13, and Willow, ten, they blamed high prices for driving families away from Skegness.

Mrs Boon, from Nottingham, said: ‘It is funny Skegness scored highly for restaurants. It is either chips or McDonald’s around here mainly.

‘The other cheap and cheerful places around here are not family friendly due to the amount of stag and hen dos,

‘I have been coming here since I was a child. Actually, I think it has got better over the years. Today it is actually warmer than Las Vegas.

‘The trouble is it is cheaper to go abroad. It is expensive to keep the children entertained when there is not hotel with a pool.’

Nodding in agreement, David said: ‘You take the kids in the arcades around here and you can spend £30 to £40 for half an hour of fun.’

The coupe agreed the town does not need money thrown at it to improve. Families just needed to be given more things to do which did not cost a fortune when the weather was bad.

Mrs Boon added: ‘Each activity in Skegness costs £30 to £40 for a family. They need to think maybe about providing more free ones.’

For some visitors Skegness was just too brash – even for a Londoner like George Spyrou, 50, being given a tour of the town by girlfriend Shirley Choung, 44.

He shared the view of many other visitors that one of the main reasons for the decline of Skegness and similar resorts was the British weather.

He said: ‘It is my first time up here and feels so much like winter I forgot it was May. It is very commercial in the town centre and not really my scene.’

Listening to a cacophony of Abba and The Jam blaring from music bars and arcades, Shirley added: ‘You cannot change the sea view. But I prefer Scarborough because it is quieter.’

And while many of the pubs were heaving with revellers as the bank holiday got underway the beach and pier were deserted.

Clacton-on-Sea in Essex has been voted as one of the worst seaside holidays in the country

An amusements centre in Clacton-on-Sea. One resident said she avoided the town centre in the afternoon because of the ‘drunks’ 

Editor of Which? Travel Rory Boland has called for more investment to help resorts such as Clacton and Skegness ‘level up’ and said the rankings were a ‘shame’ as the towns offer ‘exactly’ the type of seaside holiday Britons want. Pictured, Southend in June 1960

One of the few people out and about, Ashley Laud, 32, who walking his dog Louie along the prom, said: ‘I have been coming here since I was young and the place is better than it used to be.

‘The sea view has been basically wind turbines for the past ten years at least. When the proper summer is here it is heaving but on days like this it is just dark and gloomy.

‘But the water looks brown too. But we keep coming here just to get away because it is only an hour from our home in Derby.’

Beckie and John Hallam, aged 32 and 34, were just leaving the resort after Beckie had enjoyed a week at Butlin’s with her daughter.

Beckie did not agree that cheaper foreign holidays were luring visitors away. She said: ‘It all depends what time of year you come here.

‘Me and my daughter just spent the whole week at Butlin’s and int only cost us £160 including food. It would have been £600 if we had come at Easter.

‘The sea could be a bit cleaner because it never used to be brown. But it does not put people off. In June and July the whole seafront will be heaving and there is nowhere to sit down.’

Scaffolder John Hardwick, 59, from Chesterfield, enjoying the sands with daughter Katie, 24, blamed the economy for the lack of visitors.

He said: ‘It is not the place. It is the cost of living crisis. Many of the rides are closed but there is no point in opening them up if they have to pay staff and there are no visitors.

‘They have to wait for the sunshine. But personally I like it at this time of year when it is not crowded. It is so much more peaceful.’

Over a fish and chip supper, long-time visitors Michelle Watling, 57, and husband Ian, 59, from York, said price hikes were making their visits more expensive than their holidays abroad.

Ian Watling said: ‘We have been coming to Skegness for years and seen it decline. People regard York as expensive but the price of a pint is the same here.’

Which? asked thousands of holidaymakers to rate coastal resorts they have visited across a range of categories including quality of beaches, seafront, tourist attractions, food and drink, scenery, peace and quiet, and value for money. Table courtesy of Which?

Michelle added: ‘We have been coming here 12 years and it is not like it used to be. The prices have gone up and up in the bars.

‘We feel they are taking advantage of us. We have just paid £300 for two nights in the Premier Inn. It’s mental. It is more expensive coming here than when we got to Tenerife.

‘If we were young family with kids again we could not even afford a caravan holiday here.’

Simon Barstow, 49, who lives locally, said over a pint at a seafront pub, said: ‘This is s***hole. We only come to the seafront to walk the dog.

‘It is as cheap to go to Spain for a week as it is for ten days in Skegness so there’s no wonder why people prefer to go abroad.

‘There used to be a caravan park here exclusively for Yorkshire miners it was that popular. But things have changed.’

Jed Vawser, 48, originally from March, Cambridgeshire, disagreed. He said: ‘At the end of the day Skegness is a party town so people should not complain about a lack of peace and quiet.

‘I come here all all the time for the scooter events and there is something going on for everyone at different times of year, including a reggae weekend.’

Leading hotelier Nigel Underwood added: ‘Which? Trot out the same thing every year – but it does not seem to bother the customers so I am not bothered.’

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