Bournemouth: Beachgoer shares possible shark sighting
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Finding the best UK beach to visit on a staycation has become easier with the help of a new app. Beach Check UK helps holidaymakers maintain social distancing by highlighting the best uncrowded beaches and car parks.
Working in real time, the app was launched on July 1.
Using a traffic light system, the app has sophisticated technology and on-the-ground authorised users who assign a colour code to beaches according to the number of visitors, ability for social distancing to be maintained and number of car park spaces.
The app aims to reduce overcrowding at popular coastal areas and encourage safe social distancing.
Free and downloadable from Google Play and the Apple App store (with no in-app purchases), the app can help users check individual beaches or see a map showing red (crowded), amber (less congested) and green (uncongested) beaches.
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The app was piloted in the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council in summer 2020.
In its first phase, Beach Check had around 40,000 downloads.
The success of the app last summer led to funding by the Government’s Local Digital Collaboration Unit at MHCLG the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to roll it out nationally.
Local Government Minister Luke Hall said: “We want everyone to safely enjoy a well-deserved summer this year, while continuing to minimise the spread of the coronavirus.”
He continued: “That’s why the Government is funding Europe’s first innovative beach check app to allow people to check whether beaches are busy before travelling to avoid a surge of visitors.
“This will allow coastal communities to carefully welcome back visitors and will help local areas bounce back from the hardship faced by the pandemic.”
The data the app uses is supplied by multiple sources.
At the start of the day, a prediction is set for each zone, based on previous data, factoring in the date and weather to show how busy each zone will be.
From mid-morning, beach management staff (seafront rangers) update each section on a regular basis to reflect any changes in congestion observed.
This is supplemented by CCTV and some footfall counters.
Plans are underway to embed the app on coastal destination’s tourism webpages.
The app is currently available in Hayling Island, Hampshire; Camber Sands and Bexhill Beach, East Sussex; Thanet (Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate); Westward Ho!, Devon; West Wittering, West Sussex, Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch and Minehead Somerset.
National Coastal Tourism Academy Director Samantha Richardson said: “When temperatures have soared both this year and last, we have witnessed over-crowding on numerous hot-spot beaches around the country.
“This app developed by BCP Council allows users to plan ahead, travel to quieter areas to ensure safe social distancing.
“We have one of the world’s most amazing coastlines and this year we hope that many UK visitors will explore a new stretch of the coast and have the holiday of a lifetime.”
Any local council in the UK can apply to be part of the Beach Check app, to help visitors make the most of their coastal areas.
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