SEASIDE bosses have hit back after Clacton again ranked poorly in Which magazine’s survey of seaside destinations.

Last year businesses launched a staunch defence of Clacton’s reputation as a top seaside resort after the scathing survey ranked it the joint worst in the country, alongside Bognor Regis in Sussex.

The independent consumer body said the survey – carried out before the coronavirus lockdown – shows Which members favour peace and quiet over crowds, crazy golf and roller coasters.

St Mawes, in Cornwall topped the annual rankings with an overall customer score of 85 per cent.

Clacton ranked third from bottom of a list of 106 resorts, with a slightly improved score of 48 per cent.

It attracted a score of three out of five for its seafront and pier and tourist attractions, despite Clacton Pier last week being named as the best pier in the country by the National Pier Society.

The average hotel rate was listed as £129 and valued for money was just one out of five stars.

It scored just one star for food and drink, shopping and peace and quiet.

Frinton fared better than its neighbour in the survey, coming 20th with a score of 78 per cent.

It achieved five stars for its seafront, value for money and peace and quiet and four stars for its beach, food and drink offer and scenery.

Billy Ball, director of Clacton Pier, said it’s all about the choices of different people - and what they are each looking for in a holiday.

“Only a week or so ago we were celebrating being named Pier of the Year for 2020 and now we have the Which survey placing Clacton 104th out of 106 places to visit,” he said.

“I suppose that we should be pleased to have moved up a couple of places and at least the town is going in the right direction!

“It appears that those who take part in this survey are not those who enjoy a traditional seaside resort with a modern twist, but fortunately there are still plenty who do!

“Tourism is worth £1 million a day to Tendring so we must have something right here and we get millions of visitors to the area every year. Those figures speak for themselves.

“We cater for a certain market and other towns cater for something different; that is the way it should be.

“The main thing is that you can find something to suit everyone’s taste in England and we should all be proud of our own offer which we all work hard to improve every year.”

Mr Ball said the pier will continue to invest and attract its fair share of visitors, as will Clacton as a town, and Tendring as a district.

The results were based on an online survey of 4,146 members of Which and was conducted in October and November last year.

Skegness came bottom of the rankings with an overall score of just 44 per cent.

Rory Boland, Which?’s travel editor said: “With many people choosing to holiday in the UK this summer it is a good time to explore parts of the country you may not have considered before.

“As our survey shows, it’s smaller seaside towns and villages with fewer visitors that holidaymakers love.”

Alex Porter, cabinet member for leisure and tourism at Tendring Council, said the survey results were disappointing when Clacton had so much to offer – though it was pleasing to see Frinton perform well.

“There are so many great things about Clacton it would be impossible to list them all,” he said.

“Whether it’s the Clacton Airshow attracting 250,000 people every year or other top events, our Seaside Award Martello Beach and other sandy beaches, possibly the best weather in the UK or attractions such as Clacton Pier and Clacton Pavilion which have both invested millions of pounds recently in redevelopment, there are numerous reasons to visit – even with Covid-19 going on.

“Although 3,700 people took part in the survey it would be interesting to know how many people actually had their say about Clacton and when they visited. For example, £129 for an average hotel room may well be right for a top-end hotel during the Clacton Airshow – but does it apply equally to a budget hotel in the October half-term?

“It is also worth noting that though Southwold placed third in this survey, last year it lost its Blue Flag award – while Tendring district has three, as well as several Seaside Awards for Clacton and other beaches. And Clacton has never pretended to be peaceful – it is a family destination, though new beaches in Holland-on-Sea can often be quiet – and cannot compete with some of the scenery of Wales or Scotland, even though Tendring can be very beautiful.

“The council works closely with partners in the town to make Clacton, along with the rest of Tendring, the best it can be. We recognise it is not perfect and there is still plenty to be done but we are working together on lots of things, such as our recent bid to the Better High Streets Fund and our Cliff Stabilisation project to improve access to the new sandy beaches.

“If you’ve not been to the Essex Sunshine Coast recently – why not come and judge it for yourself?”