This paper examines resort change in a global context by linking resort development with theories of global change, local governance and collective action. It assesses global processes of change and examines their impact on English coastal resorts and on local action within these environments. Following this, there is discussion of the influence of local action on global processes and of the nature and extent of local action in English coastal resorts. A conceptual framework is then presented which enables a more detailed analytical assessment to be undertaken of global–local interaction that hitherto has been lacking in studies of resort development. The paper thereby addresses some of the conceptual weaknesses of existing theories of resort development and aims to enhance understanding of resort change.