West Sussex Tourism Symposium 2024

A big thank you to everyone who came along to our West Sussex Tourism Symposium 2024 during English Tourism Week and to our partners and speakers! The South Downs National Park Centre, Midhurst was the perfect place for 80+ participants to discuss the Sussex Visitor Economy. For those unable to attend, we will be sharing resources from the symposium on our website. 

The symposium drew out key themes during the day. There was an overwhelming desire, vocalised by many, to be involved in developing a more connected Sussex Tourism, that should  be  underpinned by a wealth of purposefully driven businesses. Passionate discourses commenced about restoring and protecting biodiversity, doing our bit for climate action and delivering an accessible and inclusive experience for visitors and staff alike.

The businesses on the panels spoke about their challenges, which included high energy prices, inadequate transport infrastructure, the impact of climate extremes and navigating a challenging economic climate where disposable income is being severely squeezed. The challenges of finding and training the right people was an issue that raised a lot of nodding heads in the audience.

We heard how the issues faced by our visitor economy sector are interconnected with wider issues – rising prices which impact on supply costs, food and drink and workforce,  the national housing shortages issues and links to affordable workers homes and housing developments that are putting pressure on area’s already overstretched services and utility supplies.  

Water quality is essential for Sussex tourism and impacts its destination reputation.  We heard from the businesses about the devastating effects some of the latest headlines around water pollution have had on destination demand and their business.  

BUT we also talked about the powerful potential of our nature-based tourism offer – not just as an attractor for visitors, but as a way to add value to our biodiversity and nature recovery initiatives that are happening across Sussex – from rewilding at Knepp and in the South Downs National Park, to the marine conservation and research work of organisations such as Sussex Dolphin Project and Sussex Wildlife Trust.

We heard from our vineyards of all the possibilities for tourism businesses to benefit from collaboration. With 138 vineyards in West Sussex alone, there is a vineyard out there waiting to collaborate.

We learned about the value of screen tourism – and its potential to boost your business both as a venue for film hire, but also as a one that could become the next ‘set-jetter’ destination, like Wicked Little Letters, out now boosting visitors to Arundel, Littlehampton and Worthing.

We learned about the power of AI as a tool to help optimise and streamline business processes, freeing us up to do more important jobs. 

And finally, we heard more about Visit England’s strategic plans and focus on the development of improved sustainability toolkits and work around regenerative tourism.

We were very excited to finish up with our announcement that Experience Sussex will be the new brand for tourism development across the region supported by our new Local Visitor Economy Partnership – a framework for working together with East Sussex County Council and Brighton and Hove City Councils.

West Sussex Tourism Symposium 2024

West Sussex Tourism Symposium 2024

Experience West Sussex

Purple wine grapes at a South Downs Vineyards

Sussex Wine Tourism: A plan for growth

Experience West Sussex


Arundel Castle drone view

AI Impact And Digital Development For Tourism


Three young boys running and playing in the country

Screen Tourism: What is it and how your business can benefit

Sussex Film Office