Northumberland County Council is working with business leaders, landowners, town and parish councils, the Police and tourism groups to prepare for an influx of visitors to the county’s coastline over the coming months.
The latest coastal summit, organised by the council, agreed there was a need for a countywide approach to cope with the expected high level of day trippers and holidaymakers this summer.
While Covid lockdown restrictions are being eased over the coming months, it is still expected that ‘staycations’ will be extremely popular this year, meaning a bumper period for the county’s hospitality industry and a boost to Northumberland’s economy.
However, feedback from last summer showed although there were many benefits, the influx of visitors placed some strain on the local infrastructure and created issues for some communities, along with impacts on the natural environment and landscape along the coast.
Now an action plan is being developed to try and balance the needs of visitors and local communities.
There will be a countywide approach involving Visit Northumberland along with other key partners to 'attract and disperse' visitors across the county to spread the pressures and promote the benefits of increased tourism across the whole county.
There will also be a push on the promotion of active travel and using public transport.
To cope with the expected increase in visitor numbers the council is looking to support town and parish councils and local landowners to provide more temporary ‘overflow’ carparks for use in peak seasons, where this can be achieved safely and without impacting on the local environment.
A consultation will also be starting soon looking at a pilot scheme to allow some limited overnight parking by self-contained motorcaravans/camper vans in car parks where this might be considered acceptable.
And more visitors also means more rubbish and more toilet users, with plans for extra bins and more frequent collections and a proposed £1m investment programme over the next two years in repairs and improvements to the council’s public toilets.
Council Leader Glen Sanderson said: “These Coastal Summits aim to shape and improve the delicate balance between growing visitor numbers and the needs of local communities in the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
"We're so looking forward to welcoming the many thousands who want to come and see all we have to offer. But we need to be realistic and help manage the flow of people we expect into the county over the next few months.
“This action plan contains a number of steps we’re considering to balance the needs of visitors and local communities, from encouraging people to explore all corners of our beautiful county to ensuring we have more places for people to park and clean and tidy facilities for them to use.
“We won’t be able to do this alone and there is very much a focus on working with all our partners to make this a memorable summer for all the right reasons.”