As Brighton & Hove’s hospitality industry bounces back from the pandemic and visitor numbers continue to rise, a new Tourism Recovery Plan is being launched to build on this success, support the recovery and promote the city as a safe and welcoming year-round destination.
Drawn up by the city’s ‘Destination Experience Group’ of tourism business leaders supported by Brighton & Hove City Council, the plan sets out how they will work together over the next two years, to attract visitors, protect jobs and revenue, and enhance the city’s reputation.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on the city’s visitor economy, which includes tourism, hospitality, events, attractions and heritage.
Many business owners, employees, and freelancers have seen their livelihoods catastrophically impacted as they have been forced to close, partially re-open, then re-close again, or have remained closed during successive lockdowns.
However, the successful vaccination programme and the recent easing of Covid -19 restrictions has already resulted in the welcome return of visitors to Brighton & Hove, kickstarting the recovery for businesses in the city.
The popularity of the ‘staycation’ has also boosted hotel and B&B bookings with the city being heralded by Conde Nast Traveller as among the 12 best destinations for a quick trip in the UK.
Year round destination
The ‘Tourism Recovery Plan’ for the city, which has been approved by the council’s Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee, includes a series of recommendations to support the Brighton & Hove tourism sector and build on the current recovery.
The plan, aims to:
- Promote the city locally, regionally and nationally
- Build back consumer confidence and awareness
- Enhance the look and feel of the city
- Extend the season to make the city an ‘all year round’ destination
Work to improve the ‘look and feel’ of the city began in the Spring with deep cleaning of city centre streets, expansion of the graffiti removal service, and extra bins provided along the seafront.
Other measures proposed include introducing additional waste collection services and additional bins in the city’s busiest areas.
There are also plans to expand the lifeguard service and recruit more the Covid Marshalls and environmental health officers, to help keep residents and visitors safe.
A year-round citywide events programme, including a Christmas Market and Festival at Victoria Gardens, and the Bowie/MacCormack and Royal Collection exhibitions at the Royal Pavilion and Museums, will attract visitors out of season, while Brighton Centre events are due to start again in September.
Pop up shops and window dressing will also enhance the shopping experience in the city.
There will also be an emphasis on building back the conference and major business events programme, with a Brighton presence at meetings, conferences and exhibitions both in the UK and internationally.
The report also acknowledges the successful Business Support Hub, developed by VisitBrighton which will continue to support city businesses, while the highly successful #NeverNormal marketing campaign, which captured the spirit of the city in 2020 has been refreshed for 2021, encouraging people to get out and make the most of post-lockdown life.
Re-discovering the city
Mark Buchanan-Smith, Centre Director of Churchill Square and chair of the Destination Experience Group, said: “It has undoubtedly been a very challenging time for the Visitor Economy and it's going to take time for all Visitor Economy sub-sectors to recover. The Destination Experience Group is made up of these sub-sectors, and Brighton & Hove City Council is committed to helping the sector recover.
“In addition to the Covid restrictions in traveling abroad, people are more conscious about the environmental impact of traveling overseas than ever before. We therefore, have a great opportunity for our population to re-discover the beauty in our nation from the urban areas to the countryside and the coast. In Brighton, we have all three benefits of having a great city on the coast, that provides access into the South Downs National Park.
“We are hopeful that the Tourism Recovery Plan will be effective in our journey. We need to improve, and we also need to get the basics right and there is much more work to be done, to take the opportunities ahead of us. We are optimistic for the future of the Visitor Economy in our city.”
Safe and sustainable
Councillor Martin Osborne, co-chair of the Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture and Committee added:
“Tourism is vital for Brighton & Hove, putting our city on the world stage and driving a key part of our local economy. This plan sets the course we are taking to ensure the hospitality, arts, culture and tourism industries that make our city thrive are supported to recover in a safe and sustainable way.
“It’s been an extremely tough year for everyone who relies on the tourism trade, and we still have some challenges ahead with the delta variant and the delay of lockdown easing. But I welcome this Recovery Plan, which will help to boost the economy, protect jobs, promote the city and ensure that visitors are welcomed back safely.”