SOUTHEND has been named as one of the top places to “staycation” in the UK as holidaymakers prepare to avoid foreign travel this summer.

The town came in as the third favourite British town to visit this summer - but the top coastal location - in research carried out by holiday rental search engine Holidu.

It was ranked ahead of popular spots such as Brighton and Bournemouth and is a welcome boost as the mercury is set to touch 30°C.

Each destination was ranked on a number of factors such as its beaches, pools, parks, weather, and - crucially - ice-cream shops.

With an average temperature of 18 degrees during the summer months, Southend scored 9.22/10 for its average hours of sun and an impressive 10/10 for its beaches, all of which proudly display a blue flag. As well as its beaches and entertainment facilities, such as Adventure Island and the seafront arcades, several of the towns parks, including Belfairs Park, Chalkwell Park, Priory Park, and Southchurch Park, have a Green Flag Award, recognising well-managed parks and green spaces.

Martin Richardson, owner of Happidrome Arcade, in Southend, and member of Southend Seafront Traders Association, said: “We’ve got everything a holiday maker wants.

“Whether you want seven miles of beach, the fountains, the amusements arcades or ice-cream shops, or whether you just want to go for a walk or a stroll, we can cater for every single person’s needs in Southend.

“We are one of the cheapest five-star hotel providers in the UK and there are plenty of boutique hotels. We are 30 miles to London and on a main railway network, as well as being one of the driest parts in England.”

Colin Gray, managing director, at Rossi Ice Cream, said: “I can understand why Southend is ranked highly for staycations, not only is there the longest pleasure pier in the world, we have some great amusements, and our iconic Rossi Ice Cream.

“Everyone loves an ice-cream, and many people travel miles to visit a Rossi Ice Cream parlour in Southend - more so now that the lockdown has been eased

“With its long heritage since 1932, Rossi ice-cream has been enjoyed by several generations and still is to this day.”

He added: “Our staff have been working extended hours to ensure they can meet the demand of ice cream throughout the summer months. We’ve got an excellent team here. They’ve all offered to work extra to meet demand.”