§ Mr. Sproat
[holding answer 20 May 1994]: The Government are aware of the current concern about unclean beaches and of the importance of clean beaches to encourage the tourist trade to resort areas. It is naturally in the resorts' interest to work towards cleaner and more accessible beaches. This is recognised in part by the Department of the Environment's commitment to the Tidy Britain Group.
The TBG administers the United Kingdom seaside awards. Its primary functions are to help raise standards of cleanliness, hygiene and environmental management at beaches and also to provide a comprehensive and free public information service for beach users. All seaside award resort beaches must meet 28 land-based criteria—fewer for rural beaches—as well as attaining at least the mandatory water quality laid down by the EC directive on bathing water. A premier seaside award indicates guideline water quality—better than the mandatory standard—as well as the fulfilment of all land-based criteria. Some 137 beaches in the United Kingdom received seaside awards in 1993.
As the awards suggest, there is a serious commitment to ensuring the cleanliness of beaches. It is estimated that around 50 per cent. of Britons holidaying in the United Kingdom take their breaks at seaside resorts. This demonstrates the continuing appeal of the traditional seaside holiday and is something which the English tourist board has encouraged in the past few years by promoting resorts through its seaside campaign. Statistics on the number of overseas visitors who go to seaside resorts are not available.