Southport’s ranking in the annual Which?’s survey of the UK’s best coastal destinations has been revealed.
The consumer champion asked thousands of holidaymakers to rate their recent visits to over 100 UK seaside resorts across a range of factors including food and drink, seafront, beach, value for money and peace and quiet.
Southport was judged to be the 73rd best out of 105 destinations, with an overall score of 65%.
Our resort has the potential to rise up the list over the next few years, with some substantial regeneration work planned.
Ambitious plans for a brand new, world class Southport Theatre and Convention Centre were revealed yesterday, while Norman Wallis has exciting plans to transform Southport Pleasureland into an all-year indoor attraction after signing a long-term lease with Sefton Council last year.
Southport Pleasureland reopened last weekend after three months in lockdown, and is back open again this weekend.
Norman Wallis said: “The fact is that with what we have in the pipeline, Southport has the potential to be top of the list without doubt.
“Even during lock down we have been moving things forward.”
In the Which? survey Southport’s highest ranking (4 out of 5) was for our Seafront and Pier.
Southport scored 3 out of 5 in: Food and Drink, Tourism Attractions, Scenery, Shopping, Peace and Quiet, and Value for Money, with 2 for our Beach.
Finishing top in the Which? survey this year was St Mawes, in Cornwall, which came ahead of better-known beach destinations like Salcombe or St Ives – earning a full five stars for its scenery, seafront and peace and quiet – and a glowing overall customer score of 85 per cent. At the bottom of the ranking was Skegness, which earned an overall score of 44 per cent.
Other resorts near Southport included:
Lytham St Annes (29th)
New Brighton (92nd)
Southport is already planning big things to improve our score over the next couple of years with people invited to have your say on how Southport should improve in the Southport Town Deal, which aims to secure £25million regeneration funding into our resort.
Consultation on the draft Vision and the Big Ideas for Southport will run until Monday (20th July) – local residents, businesses and visitors are invited to provide their comments online at www.yourseftonyoursay.sefton.gov.uk/futuresouthport.
Improvements are also due to be made through the £2.5million Southport Townscape Heritage Scheme while plans were yesterday revealed to build a brand new ‘world class’ Southport Theatre and Conference Centre.
St Mawes, in Cornwall, came top in this year’s rankins while at the bottom of the ranking was Skegness, which earned an overall score of 44 per cent.
Those who visited St Mawes recommended eating crab baguettes at Mr Scorse’s deli and spotting dolphins on the ferry to Falmouth, but admitted to Which? that avoiding peak season was the best way to dodge the crowds.
Dartmouth, arguably one of the most famous destinations in the top 10, and home of Agatha Christie, scored 84 per cent and came joint second.
Which? says those who visited drew attention to steam trains and delicious seafood, but advised using the park and ride service as finding a parking spot in town is ‘near impossible’.
For those seeking to avoid already oversubscribed hotspots, particularly those in Devon and Cornwall, Which? says there are plenty of beautiful and tranquil spots to pick, such as Southwold in joint second (84 per cent) and Aldeburgh in joint fourth (83 per cent). They both scored top marks for scenery and peace and quiet.
Which? says holidaymakers highlighted the great food and drink on offer in Southwold – earning five stars in this category – as well as the deliberate lack of ‘kiss-me-quick’ gimmickry.
Aldeburgh was praised for its tranquillity, with one person telling Which?: ‘It’s not got the usual seaside entertainments.’ Another described it as ‘far from the madding crowd of South East England’.
Bamburgh in Northumberland (83 per cent), which topped last year’s rankings, has not fallen out of favour with visitors this year. It was rated a full five stars in almost every category.
One person summed up Bamburgh to Which? as ‘one of the UK’s top-secret locations’, adding that ‘Northumberland is outstandingly unspoilt and a UK treasure’.
St Andrews (81 per cent), home of Scotland’s oldest university, also made it into the top 10, with a full five stars for food and drink, beautiful views and its attractions, including the world-renowned golf course.
The consumer champion says those who visited praised the West Sands beach, which extends for almost two miles and was made famous by the opening scene of the film Chariots of Fire.
Meanwhile, bottom-ranked Skegness, the famous home of the original Butlins, achieved one-star ratings in each category, apart from the three stars for its beach.
While some of those who spoke to Which? were scathing in their comments, going as far as to say the Lincolnshire town was ‘to be avoided,’ nature lovers highlighted the seal sanctuary and bird watching at the Gibraltar Point National Nature Reserve.
Which? says some spoke fondly of a ‘typical town that caters for all ages’ and one visitor told the consumer champion: ‘Don’t be put off by the stereotypical opinions of Skegness. It’s a well-maintained, vibrant area.’
Other iconic seaside resorts complete with Victorian-era piers, amusement arcades and roller coasters also fared badly, including Great Yarmouth (48 per cent), Clacton-on-Sea (48 per cent), Bognor Regis (49 per cent) and Blackpool (53 per cent).
Which? says that the survey of over 4,000 people – was carried out before the coronavirus lockdown.
Rory Boland, Which? travel editor, said: ‘With many people choosing to holiday in the UK this summer it is a good time to explore parts of the country you may not have considered before and to spread our sandcastles beyond the beaches of Devon and Cornwall.
‘As our survey shows, it’s smaller seaside towns and villages with fewer visitors that holidaymakers love.
‘Whether that’s hitting the waves in Tynemouth or camping in Criccieth, there are good options for those of us keen to keep our distance from the crowds this year but still want to combine stunning scenery with sumptuous seafood.
‘Don’t forget, if you book your hotel or accommodation direct and over the phone, you may even get a discount or free bottle of bubbly thrown in.’