A ground-breaking survey is to be carried out in Whitby in a bid to establish what value residents and visitors place on the beach and harbour.
The data will be used to help Scarborough Borough Council draw in grant funding so it can continue to carry out expensive coastal defence work in the future.
Researchers will be working in the town from 30 May to 4 June to get the views of local people and tourists through a simple questionnaire.
A spokeswoman for Scarborough Borough Council said: “Although the value of the beach is difficult to quantify in cash terms as access and the time spent on the beach has and always will be free, those surveyed will be asked to put a monetary value on a trip to the beach, compared to what it would cost to, for example, have a meal out or a trip to the theatre.
“If, as expected, the beach comes high up on the list of reasons why people visit Whitby and its worth to the town can be measured in cash-terms, it will help the council bid for grant funding in the future to support sea defence works that will protect those assets which are linked to the sustainability of the beach, such as the East and West Piers.”
Whitby’s tourism industry is currently worth around £40 million a year to the local economy, with an estimated 2,000 jobs dependant on visitors, representing almost 30 per cent of all jobs in the town.
The coast, beach and harbour are all key elements of the overall visitor product and experience, with around half of all visitors to Whitby enjoying beach activities.