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Butler Model

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Does Weston-Super-Mare fit the Butler Model?

Weston-super-Mare is a popular seaside resort town located in the county of Somerset, England on the Bristol Channel coast. It is the largest settlement in the North West. Weston-super- Mare has a population of 69,696 People living in households and 2,062 people living in communal establishments; 71, 758 in total.2 Due to the development of the railway between local towns and cities it became a popular seaside resort in the 19th century.

In this field report I will be discussing whether Weston-super-Mare fits the Butler Model. Firstly let’s discuss what the butler model is. The butler model is significant in tourism geography. The model provides a structured framework on the lifecycle of tourist industries such as beaches. The model is divided in to five stages and is also depicted as a graph:

Here we can see the position of each of the five stages in accordance to time, meaning the more time that goes on there is an increase in the number of tourists. Therefore the coastal town develops and progresses through these five stages.


Discovery is when a town is revealed and explored by a group of people who then pass on their knowledge of the place to other. This means that as the years go on more and more people are attracted to the town meaning there is “new economic opportunities.” This economy has a positive effect for local people who can make a profit from the influx of visitors and tourists. This stage can be related to Weston-super-Mare which has links to pre- historic times. History tells us that seaside holidays became popular due to the discovery of the health benefit that the sea provided. This trend was started by King George III in 1789, who went to Weymouth due to advice of his physicians telling him about the virtues of bathing and drinking the sea water. Therefore the residents of neighboring cities such as Bristol and Bath the closest and accessible coastal town was Weston-super-Mare. Due to the attraction of this picturesque rural town there was a need to accommodate all these visitors so a hotel was opened in 1810.

Growth and Development Stage

This stage of the butler model is when the coastal town has attracted more tourists through some kind of publicity like articles or just recommendation from people. This means the local people need to provide attractions like shops, restaurants, more hotels and other services for the tourists. In Weston-super-Mare the first type article written about the town was a holiday guide in 18226. This was a book for visitors which gave a portrayal of the town providing details such as how many hotels/inns it had and other accommodations for tourists. There was not as many entertainment amenities back then in comparison to then. The arrival of the railway in 1841 meant there now was a main line to Weston-super-Mare to transport the visitors to the destination.

Birnbeck Pier was built in 18677. This provided the tourists with a new place to visit, to walk along the pier and view the scenery. Weston-super-Mare experienced growth due to its developing in to a resort. This was apart of the Seafront Improvement Scheme which created the sea walls and the promenade. Also with the further development of the railway in 18848 it meant that Weston-super-Mare became a popular day trip destination with thousands visiting for Bank Holidays. Obviously this meant that there was a growth in business with new shops opening. The urban district council then added to this growth in 1894 with new entertainment facilities such as indoor swimming baths, a library, museum and a theatre.

A second pier was built in 1904 closer to the town centre to drive tourists in to the town centre to boost business as local felt that visitors didn’t come to the town centre as they stayed in and around the Birnbeck Pier. The Grand Pier offered more entertainment facilities in addition to those already there such as bars, merry go round, park swings, more restaurants and amusement type games. Also the grand pier was renowned for its grand theatre. There was also the building of the Odeon theatre in 1935, which attracted more visitors as it was similar to the London Leicester Square theatre. Success

This stage is when more and more people make trips to the coastal location, the facilities are built for the visitor is being used. The accumulation of tourism takes over the primary function of the town. This causes ill feeling within the location and loss of original culture that the town had. This can be seen in Weston-super-Mare with the building of the grand pier as local traders, unhappy that visitors were not coming as far as the centre of the town, built a new pier closer to the main streets. Also the tourist where now not drawn in to the town for the benefits of the sea and the once romantic rural charm the town had. People where now coming to Weston-super-Mare for its attractions such as the grand pier’s grant theatre where musical stars of the day performed bringing in big crowds to the town. All the new attractions and amenities that were emplaced at time of growth are being used such as the amusements, which were a hit for people of all ages. The ever growing road networks and the opening of motorways like the M5 provided another mode for people to visit the beach and attractions.

Problem – Stagnation Stage

At this stage the popularity of town is short lived. Tourists and holiday makers do not find this location appealing anymore. This leading to a decline in the economy of the town and tourist attractions are not fully utilized which means closure and unemployment. This can be seen in the 1970s when Weston-super-Mare was suffering a decline. The possible reasons for this decline were the advances in travelling, aeroplanes had become accessible offering cheap flights to more exotic locations. Weston-super-Mare was well known for its aerospace industry which closed in 20029 . Also in the 1970s there was a decline in people staying in Weston-super-Mare. Both of these declines meant there was unemployment. Also the burning down of the Grand Pier in 2008 meant that there was a further decline in the town economy as the piers attractions bought in a lot revenue and since it had been burnt down people who worked there, now could not and the rebuild took two years.

Decline or Rejuvenation

This stage is when the coastal town has two options either to go into decline or rejuvenation. We can see that Weston-super-Mare was facing a decline, but there has been some rejuvenation. Weston-super-Mare is still a popular tourist destination. The attractions such as the beach, the Museums, the Grand Pier, the aquarium and the Wheel of Weston still pull in big crowds. The steam boats offer day trips from Knightstone Island to various destinations along the Bristol Channel and Severn estuary. The rejuvenation has been in the types of tourists that Weston-super-Mare is trying to appeal to for example festivals such as T4 on the Beach bring in thousands of young people every summer to see musical acts. The biker events in the summer bring in bikers and bike enthusiasts. Also Weston-super-Mare is planning to further rejuvenate itself as a key location with plan to create a Leisure dome.

North Somerset Council gave planning approval to the £50 million Leisure Dome, a 210-metre indoor ski slope to be built on the site of RAF Locking. The site, which is due to open early in 2013, is planned to include a 40-metre climbing wall, a vertical wind tunnel for indoor skydiving, indoor surfing, a BMX track, a health and fitness club, and a number of shops and restaurants. The ski slope will be the longest in the United Kingdom10. This Leisure Dome will create more jobs, which will hopefully make it a successful rejuvenation as the Leisure Dome will modernize the resort and attract new visitors. This is a popular way of rejuvenating resorts for example from my field experiment of Cardiff Bay; it had similar plans to build a leisure centre to attract more business and people. In conclusion from the evidence collected in relation to each of the five stages we can see that western super mare has fit the criteria of the butler model. This location has been through the life cycle that faces all seaside localities. Western super mare has surpassed its expected life with hopes of modernization as its key to survival.

England visitor numbers ‘rising’ – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8225517.stm

£50million Leisuredome gets planning approval Written by Alex Ross, Reporter Friday, July 22, 2011 – http://www.thewestonmercury.co.uk/news/50million_leisuredome_gets_planning_ap

The Weston Vision – http://www.cpreavonside.org.uk/districts/north-somerset/weston-vision/

Can Weston-super-Mare cope with development? -http://www.bbc.co.uk/somerset/content/articles/2008/02/05/weston_development_feature.shtml

The Butler Model of tourist resort development -http://geographyfieldwork.com/ButlerModel.htm

Weston-super-Mare – a brief history, -http://www.weston-super-mare.com/newhistory/newhistory.html

The Tourism Area Life Cycle: v. 2: Conceptual and Theoretical Issues (Aspects of Tourism) (Paperback) Edited/written by Richard W. Butler Publisher: Channel View Publications Ltd Published: 17 January 2006

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