A NEW national coastal tourism academy will create 165 jobs for Bournemouth and more than 2,000 nationwide.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles yesterday announced that the “virtual” academy would receive £2million from the Coastal Communities Fund; the largest grant in the first round of successful bids by seaside towns.

He told the Daily Echo how he hoped some of Bournemouth’s “magic” would rub off on other coastal towns with Europe’s first coastal tourism academy providing businesses with much-needed access to education and professional training.

Once established, the academy will be rolled out nationally and offered to other resorts through virtual training alongside face-to-face interaction.

Designed and delivered by Bournemouth University ’s internationally acclaimed School of Tourism, in collaboration with Bournemouth council and local tourism businesses, the academy will be university-based.

Tourism director Mark Smith said it would focus on customer care, provide easy access to tourism data and would include setting up the UK’s first coastal activity park at Boscombe beach.

He added: “Because it is a virtual academy there is no building work involved and we are ready to go.

“Extra funding will come from the council and tourism trade. The academy will enable us to share our secrets with other resorts.”

Dr Keith Wilkes, Dean of School of Tourism at Bournemouth University , said the academy would benefit local and national coastal destinations as well as international resorts.

Announcing that Bournemouth council’s funding bid had been a success, Mr Pickles said it would ensure that the town “continues to be at the cutting edge”.

He added: “We are hoping to use Bournemouth as a catalyst and that a little bit of your magic will rub off on the rest of the country.”

Bournemouth council leader John Beesley told Mr Pickles: “Your investment is going to make a very significant difference.

“Jobs and economic regeneration are crucial; coastal towns have so much more to offer than traditional attractions.”

Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood said: “This is a wonderful vote of confidence in our wonderful seaside resort.”