In this year’s Which? survey, 4,300 people were asked to rate coastal resorts they have visited across a range of categories, including quality of beaches, seafront, tourist attractions, food and drink, scenery, peace and quiet and value for money.
Scoring five stars for its visitor attractions as well as four stars for food and drink, and shopping, Southsea placed 32nd out of 87 – placing it above St Ives in Cornwall (49th) and Brighton (57th).
Overall, Southsea was given a destination rating of 74 per cent – not too far off 87 per cent for the winner Bamburgh, in Northumberland, which was considered much better value for money, but far higher than lowest ranked Skegness in Lincolnshire with a score of 49 per cent.
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Businesses in the area welcomed the news, believing Southsea will only get ‘busier.’
Jennifer Sanchez, owner of Southsea-based photography company Liberty Photography, and homeware store Into the Savannah, said: ‘As an island it’s only getting busier, more exciting and vibrant and the buzz is growing.
‘Since the university was opened there’s been an injection of open-minded young people, probably since around 2000 it’s boomed and culturally it’s become more and more creative and the business owners in particular are so creative. There’s a real friendly, muck-in, village mentality, despite being such a diverse and highly-populated seaside town.’
And Terence Carvalho, regional director of marketing agency Delivered Social and former general manager at Becketts in Southsea, said: ‘There is nothing better than Southsea seaside especially in the summer. Southsea bandstand, Victorious Festival, The Kite Festival just to name a few things we have to get the city buzzing.
‘Southsea has the most bars/pubs per square mile in the entire UK so we certainly know how to have a good time! We have an incredible shopping scene thanks to Gunwharf Quays emergence in 2001. The tourism scene in Southsea has grown and this can be seen by the amount of hotels which have opened the in the last decade.
‘There is absolutely no coincidence that Portsmouth University students tend to stay and live in Portsmouth after their studies. We're incredibly privileged to have such a great waterfront city full of people who are passionate about our city and it will only go from strength to strength for many years to come.’
Founder of Southsea charity Spark Community Space, Becki Simmons, agreed. She said: ‘Southsea is not only a great place to live, not only because you’re so close to the sea, but there’s a village vibe and everyone is super friendly, everyone works together, there are lovely little quirky independent shops and businesses.
‘But above all it’s all about the community, which has been incredibly for Spark over the last couple of years.’
Traders along the seafront have said Southsea can 'hold its own' against any seaside resort in the UK - and it's just a lack of parking that is holding back the tourist hot spot.
Tracey Albridge, who serves ice cream from the Dagostino ice cream van opposite Canoe Lake, said she had already served people from across the country so far this year.
She said: 'I think Southsea holds its own. Yesterday I served some one who had come from Winchester, and then a couple had come down from Yorkshire.
'But parking could be a lot better. I do see people driving around in circles or standing in spaces to hold them, there's so little parking.'
Southsea Model Village co-owner Mark Wilson agreed, saying that more parking close to the shoreline was sorely needed.
The attraction owner said: 'There's a lot that could be improved but once the sea defences are put in, it will be fantastic.
'Parking is atrocious. We need more parking if you're trying to encourage people into the city.
'We're an attraction for young families, and they don't want to be taking the park and ride.'
In a bid to make the most of what the city has to offer, Shaping Portsmouth, was established to boost business, community and education in the area.
It’s chief executive, Stef Nienaltowski, told The News: ‘Southsea is one of the best places in Portsmouth to experience a number of different tourism experiences. It has, deepening on the time of year brilliant events such as the Kite festival, the Great South Run and of course the Victorious Festival.
‘It has historic places to visit such as the D-Day museum and the brilliant new landing craft attraction, which is the last landing craft of its kind, LCT 7074. There are tranquil areas for those that love to chill and of course miles of sea front with a range of hospitality venues. Not far off the main seafront road you have brilliant places to eat and drink and more venues will be open soon.
‘So all round it is a brilliant venue to enjoy the best of what Portsmouth has to offer.’