Businesses in West Dorset treading fine line with getting safety messages across to holidaymakers (From Dorset Echo)
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Businesses in West Dorset treading fine line with getting safety messages across to holidaymakers
TOURISM businesses in West Dorset are treading a fine line between encouraging holidaymakers and getting safety messages across about the beaches.
Following the death of Charlotte Blackman under the cliffs near Freshwater last July and subsequent landslides the area has had quite a bit of negative publicity, say businesses.
Martin Cox from West Dorset Leisure Holidays, which runs Highlands End and Golden Cap parks and Steve Attrill at The Hive Café in Burton Bradstock say businesses need to strike the right balance to get the message across that there are safe beaches and the area is open for holidaymakers.
Mr Cox said: “We live in a place where the coastline is ever-changing and it is one of the attractions of the area.
“The cliffs are what make the area so stunning and they are like that because they tend to fall. We have to be careful because the attention has been drawn to the area because of the tragic accident last July.
“We all have great sympathy for the family but the bottom line is the area is still open for tourism and we have a lot to offer visitors.”
Mr Cox said they had an important role – to see the thousands of people who visit each year are welcomed and given good advice on how to enjoy the beaches and coastline safely.
They are constantly updating their holiday information, he said.
“As part of our new arrivals pack we give guidance on how to enjoy the coastline safely.”
Although that has been done for many years it is always being revised and brought up to date, he added.
“We are continuously making available information on beaches, where there are lifeguards and what sort of beach it is, whether it is safe for swimming and health warnings like strong currents.
“2013 is not going to be an easy year and we need to make sure continue to encourage our guests to come.
“And the message we have to get across is just be sensible.”
Steve Attrill from the Hive Beach Café said some publicity reports implied Burton beach was completely closed.
He said: “If you come to Burton beach and turn right I agree it should be closed but there are 12/13 miles of beach beyond Burton cliffs where you can go onto the beach directly in front of the café where there are no cliffs.
“We have taken 20-plus years to build tourism up on Burton beach and we employ 62 members of staff through the businesses. It could be detrimental to the oncoming season.
“We want people to come to the beach.
“We have had a really hard time this year with the weather and we don’t need the message that the beach is closed coming across on top of it.”