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 Beach tourism, also known as coastal tourism, is considered to be one of the fastest-growing areas of the industry
Beach tourism, also known as coastal tourism, is considered to be one of the fastest-growing areas of the industry

Life is still a beach

Before all these other attractions and products became famous in tourism, the beach was the classic symbol of travel and leisure.

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Remember the mantra: “sun, sea and sand”? And slogans such as “It is better in the Bahamas”? Well, “life is still a beach” and I wish to discuss this very relaxing and pleasurable affair.

Within Africa, Ghana may not have the best beaches. But we do have some good ones which make us happy. Better put, we do have beaches that if managed well, can draw larger international tourists to our shores.

Beach tourism, also known as coastal tourism, is considered to be one of the fastest-growing areas of the industry, with its central attributes of sand, sea and sun. Indeed, for many people, tourism is synonymous with going to the beach for fun.

For those of you who have planned to spend some beach time this year, kudos. A beach is a landform alongside a body of water, which consists of loose particles. The particles composing a beach are typically made from rock, such as sand, or biological elements such as shells.

Beaches have man-made infrastructure, such as lifeguard posts, changing rooms and showers. They may also have hospitality venues (such as resorts, camps, hotels and restaurants) nearby.

There are also wild beaches which some tourists prefer. These are also known as undeveloped or undiscovered beaches. Wild beaches can be valued for their untouched beauty and preserved nature.

Although the seashore is most commonly associated with the word beach, beaches are also found inland by lakes and alongside large rivers. In tropical areas, the storm season tends to be during the summer months, with calmer weather commonly associated with the winter season.

The development of the beach as a popular leisure resort in the mid-19th century was the first manifestation of what is now the global tourist industry. The first seaside resorts were opened in the 18th century in England for the aristocracy, who began to frequent the seaside as well as the then fashionable spa towns, for recreation and health.

One of the earliest such seaside resorts was Scarborough in Yorkshire during the 1720s; it had been a fashionable spa town since a stream of acidic water was discovered running from one of the cliffs to the south of the town in the 17th century.

The opening of the resort in Brighton and its reception of royal patronage from King George IV extended the seaside as a resort for health and pleasure to the much larger London market, and the beach became a centre for upper-class pleasure and frivolity.

The extension of this form of leisure to the middle and working class began with the development of the railways in the 1840s, which offered cheap and affordable fares to fast-growing resort towns.

The development of the seaside resort in other parts of Europe was stimulated by the well-developed English love of the beach. By the end of the 18th century, the French Riviera alongside the Mediterranean had already become a popular destination for the British upper class.

In 1864, the first railway to Nice was completed, making the Riviera accessible to visitors from all over Europe. Commercial sea bathing spread to the United States and parts of the British Empire by the end of the 19th century.

 By the 1970s, cheap and affordable air travel was the catalyst for the growth of a truly global tourism market which benefited areas such as the Mediterranean, Australia, South Africa, and the coastal Sun Belt regions of the United States.

Beaches can be popular on warm sunny days. In the Victorian era, many popular beach resorts were equipped with bathing machines because even the all-covering beachwear of the period was considered immodest. This social standard still prevails in many Muslim countries.

At the other end of the spectrum are top free beaches and nude beaches where clothing is optional or not allowed. In most countries, social norms are significantly different on a beach in hot weather, compared to other areas where similar behaviour might not be tolerated and might even be prosecuted.

Some beaches are artificial; they are either permanent or temporary. The soothing qualities of a beach and the pleasant environment offered to the beachgoer are replicated in artificial beaches, such as "beach style" pools with zero-depth entry and wave pools that recreate the natural waves pounding upon a beach.

Beach nourishment involves pumping sand onto beaches to improve their health. Beach nourishment is common for major beach cities around the world; however, the beaches that have been nourished can still appear quite natural and often many visitors are unaware of the works undertaken to support the health of the beach.

Such beaches are often not recognised by consumers as artificial. A famous example of beach nourishment came with the replenishment of Waikīkī Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii. Another one is Monaco (Monte Carlo).

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This innovative measure is to create safe, stable and attractive coastal environments with clean waters and healthy coastal habitats. It is necessary to develop well-managed sustainable coastal tourism.

Are you visiting the beach this weekend? Play it safe and enjoy!

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