A £3.7m project to develop sustainable tourism opportunities around the Brighton & Hove region’s natural and cultural resources has shone a light on how the city and surrounding area may reduce the impact that visitors have on the environment.
The 3-year, EU Intereg funded, Bio-Cultural Heritage Tourism Project looked at sustainable tourism over the long term and examined how the impacts of tourism could benefit the area in a positive way – socially, environmentally and economically.
This project was delivered by The Living Coast UNESCO Biosphere Partnership. Brighton & Hove is at the centre of The Living Coast, the UK’s only urban Biosphere region.
Our region holds this prestigious, global designation for the quality and value of our natural environment as well as the innovative approach organisations, community groups and residents are taking to tackle some of the world’s biggest problems – climate change and sustainable development.
Sustainable tourism experiences
Key elements of the project were to protect the natural and cultural heritage of the city and surrounding area for the future and help visitors engage with our local heritage by developing new sustainable tourism experiences.
The project also developed new resources to promote the natural and cultural heritage of The Living Coast for both residents and visitors.
A new ‘Things to do’ section on The Living Coast website offers inspiration on places and things to discover in a low impact and sustainable way.
Residents can also use this as inspiration to explore and learn more about their local area. For example, The Living Coast by Bike website shows tried and tested cycle routes in the biosphere and beyond.
The Living Coast directory for businesses
There is also a dedicated section with free resources for local businesses to use. These include a toolkit to help local businesses become more sustainable, as well as marketing material for businesses to use to showcase our region’s natural and cultural heritage.
Businesses that share the values of The Living Coast can also showcase their sustainability credentials by adding themselves to a new sustainable business directory.
Balancing economic and environmental impact
Pre-pandemic Brighton & Hove usually attracted 12 million visitors each year, creating £975 million of economic benefit to the city.
Councillor Martin Osborne, co-chair of the Tourism, Equalities, Communities & Culture Committee said: “Brighton & Hove is one of the most popular visitor destinations in the UK. As a council and a city, we care deeply about our environment. So it’s really important that we found a way of balancing the benefits that it has on our environment.
“We are lucky in Brighton & Hove to be between the stunning coast and South Downs countryside, meaning there are plenty of wonderful natural resources on our doorstep.
“The Bio-Cultural Heritage Tourism Project has highlighted the need to promote more sustainable tourism experiences that both residents and visitors can enjoy and I would encourage everyone to look at the resources produced”
Becoming carbon neutral
The council’s tourism arm, VisitBrighton markets the city as a compact, walkable city and encourages visitors to arrive car-free and explore by bus or bike.
The council has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030. The city has an Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), a popular bikeshare scheme with a new fleet of electric bikes, and an ever-expanding network of cycle paths.
Visitors and residents can reach Stanmer Park, the city’s largest park, by bike, bus or train, and access Wilding Waterhall, a landscape restoration project on the edge of the city by bus, bike or on foot.
For your next sustainable adventure see the ‘Things to Do’ section of The Living Coast website.’
About the Living Coast and the BioCultural Heritage Tourism Project
The Living Coast covers the region from the River Adur in the West to the River Ouse in the east, following the northern boundary of the South Downs National Park and stretching 2 miles offshore.
It is designated by UNESCO to recognise the international importance of the chalk land and seascape and the special habitats and species these contain - and to reflect the sustainable and innovative approach to development and engagement with the natural environment by the communities that live work, visit and learn here.
The BioCultural Heritage Tourism project was funded by the EU Interreg Channel programme as part of the European Regional Development Fund.
The project was led by Devon County Council, covering The Living Coast Biosphere and North Devon Biosphere in the UK and Marais Audomarois and Iroise Islands and Sea in France.