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Seaside rivals survived bad summer better than Brighton and Hove
Rival seaside resorts appear to be riding the wave of the bad summer better than Brighton and Hove.
Last month The Argus reported that the number of people visiting the city’s visitor information centre had reduced by almost 11% year on year during the first half of 2012.
Atthe time, bosses at Brighton and Hove City Council pointed to other factors, such as bad weather and the recession.
But new figures released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal other resorts have fared better – with Eastbourne having a 3% drop and Bournemouth a 13% rise in numbers at their respective centres.
Critics claimed it was proof the council’s parking price hikes of up to 100% were damaging tourism.
But despite the local authority using visitor centre numbers as a barometer of tourist volume, bosses claimed it was not a true reflection of actual holidaymakers and day trippers. They added they did not believe car parking charges were putting people off coming to the city.
Opposition councillors claimed the charges had cost the city millions of pounds in tourist revenue and called for tariffs to be reversed to 2011 levels.
Conservative group leader Geoffrey Theobald said: “The Greens have tried to blame the drop in visitor numbers solely onthe bad summerweather, but these figures prove that their parking charges are having a huge negative impact over and above that.”
Figures obtained by The Argus show that 24,689 fewer people used the information centre in Pavilion Buildings in the first seven months of this year compared to the same period in 2011.
In the first three months of the year the numbers remained fairly static. But since parking charges were increased on April 1, visitor levels have slumped, with July figures 19% down on last year.
A council spokeswoman said the dip only related to the number of people who went to the visitor information centre, and that unique visitor numbers to the city’s official tourist information website, VisitBrighton, reached an all-time high in August.
“It’s not price alone that dictates why people visit Brighton and Hove; visitors come because of the quantity and quality of what the city offers.”
She added that the weather affected visitor numbers but that parking charges did not have a “significant effect”.