Developing the Sussex visitor economy

A new collaboration, the Sussex Visitor Economy Initiative (SVEI), has been developed in response to the impact of the pandemic, underpinned by a recognition of the opportunities that cross-county working brings to support recovery and future growth of the sector.

West Sussex County Council, Brighton & Hove City Council, and East Sussex County Council have been at the forefront of this initiative, working with destination partnerships and management organisations across the county to progress the work.

The strategic framework for the Sussex Visitor Economy Initiative has been informed by commissioned research that produced an evidence baseline, a vision, and medium-term actions. You can download the documents below.

This market insight presents an opportunity to significantly increase our market share of longer staying domestic and overseas visitors by working together in a stronger joined-up approach across Sussex.

International Segmentation for Sussex

In 2022, an International Segmentation report was commissioned to identify short and long-haul target markets and visitor segments with the greatest potential to deliver high-value visitors to Sussex.  The report looks at how Sussex tourism organisations working together can target best prospect domestic and international markets. The report was funded by the UK Community Renewal Funding (UKCRF) secured by a partnership led by Sussex Modern, and commissioned by South Downs National Park Authority.

Arundel Castle drone image

Sussex Wine Tourism Development

An ambitious plan, funded by the HM Government Department for Levelling Up, Communities and Housing, aims to elevate Sussex’s wine tourism sector from its current value of £25 million to an impressive £283 million by 2040. Additionally, the plan seeks to generate 3633 new jobs while solidifying Sussex’s position globally as the UK’s premier wine tourism destination. This Plan was created in partnership led by Sussex Modern, Plumpton College and South Downs National Park with support from the Sussex Visitor Economy Initiative.

What is the Sussex opportunity?

Sussex is a known brand for consumers, but a compelling Sussex story to fully engage market interest is missing.

The scale of opportunity is reflected in the data:

    • Staying visitors (UK + overseas) account for 11% of visits and 50% of visitor spend
    • Overseas staying visitors account for just 2% of visits but 19% of spend
    • Overnight business tourism trips represent 11% of total staying trips across Sussex
    • The average spend per day by day visitors and per trip for UK and overseas visits is below the England average

Increased partnership collaboration can maximise opportunity growth for Sussex market share around longer staying visitors and overseas visitors. This joint approach will  be built on sustainable growth that plays to the natural assets of Sussex, which encourages longer stays for UK leisure visitors,  provides creative and productive environments for doing business, and prioritises higher spend international markets arriving on the doorstep.

A better joined-up approach across Sussex provides the opportunity to:

    • Create and promote a stronger Sussex narrative at a national and international level
    • Campaign in the right places to attract the best value market segments
    • Collectively plan for and factor in current and future challenges, offering flexibility in a changing environment
    • Bring added value above the activities already undertaken by local destination management organisations and partnerships
    • Secure greater value through increasing economic impact and enhancing the quality of jobs in the sector

First steps for the initiative

From an analysis of market trends, feedback from Visit Britain, and insight into what competitors do well, the SVEI have agreed on what are first steps to better collaborative working:

    • Market segmentation and Sussex story development
    • Sussex MICE development to stimulate a step change in our investment proposition
    • Increase the Sussex positioning in the sector and with national bodies

The ambition is to initiate a series of large scale pieces of work to increase the economic value of tourism across Sussex by attracting new funds, targeting specific market segments and enabling effective collaboration between businesses that share a common interest. The Sussex Visitor Economy Initiative work is all about adding value,  not about replacing local tourism initiatives, and has an outward focus on securing national and international tourism benefits for Sussex as a whole. Experience West Sussex is a partner in the work, and will be helping to ensure West Sussex maximises the opportunities from the pan-Sussex initiative.

In March 2022 the initial founding partners; West Sussex County Council, East Sussex County Council and Brighton and Hove City Council, in this new collaboration released the following Sussex Visitor Economy Position Statement.

Experience West Sussex will be posting updates on the Visitor Economy Sussex initiative through our usual channels. For further information or any questions, please contact Jo, Partnership Manager at Experience West Sussex at