Newquay’s Wild Summer: Quiet Resort Town or Bar Central?

One of the UK’s top tourism spots could be in the middle of an unwelcome re-branding effort. The town of Newquay, renowned as Britain’s surf capital, is growing increasingly popular with students and recent graduates, particularly those looking for a place to party. The small Cornish resort town has also grown popular with school students at year end as a beach party destination.

While its new popularity certainly pleases some, many locals aren’t so impressed with the town’s new audience. Underage drinking has become fairly common in the town, with a typical night in Newquay revealing drunken tourists, unconscious underage visitors, and an inflow of illegal drug use. Approximately sixty-thousand underage visitors arrived in Newquay throughout July 2010.

It’s a phenomenon that’s causing problems for local residents. The city’s main promenade is home to several major bars and clubs, many of which are located within reach of townhouses and apartments belonging to city residents. While most nights are uneventful and relatively peaceful, during tourist season the noise from bars and nightclubs can routinely continue until 4AM or later.

The prevalence of drunken teens is also a safety concern. Newquay’s cliffs are a hazard, although they are easily avoided by most visitors. Throughout the past twelve months, three teens fell from the city’s cliffs, two of whom died. Parents of those involved in the incidents have blamed simple access to alcohol for the deaths, claiming that the teens wouldn’t be admitted to bars elsewhere.

While the surge in underage drinking is certainly alarming, the town remains one of the UK’s top tourist attractions, and for good reason. With calm summertime weather and some of the country’s best surf beaches, it’s unlikely that Newquay’s reputation for fun will disappear. Residents, however, are hopeful that the town’s fun atmosphere will be met with slightly less reckless abandon.

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