Working on a traffic light system that uses 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.

The app is free and simple to use, downloadable from Google Play and the Apple App store (with no in-app purchases), allowing users to check individual beaches or see a map showing red (crowded), amber (less congested) and green (uncongested) beaches.

Piloted by Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council in summer 2020, the app was developed to help manage overcrowding of the area’s beaches following easing of the first national lockdown. In its first phase, it had around 40,000 downloads.

Following its successful first phase, the app has been funded by the government’s Local Digital Collaboration Unit at MHCLG the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to roll it out nationally.

Bournemouth Pier
Bournemouth Pier

“We want everyone to safely enjoy a well-deserved summer this year, while continuing to minimise the spread of the coronavirus,” says Local Government Minister Luke Hall.

“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 app is currently available in the following coastal locations: 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.

The National Coastal Tourism Academy is supporting BCP Council in the roll out of their app and is encouraging resorts nationwide to adopt it.

“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,” says NCTA Director Samantha Richardson.

“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.”

There are plans to sign up more coastal locations, and users are encouraged to contact their local authority if they feel their area would benefit.

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Main image: Viking Bay Sweep, Broadstairs. Credit Thanet District Council