East Sussex’s Green Tourism is booming, as visitors to the county are increasingly demanding environmentally sustainable experiences, involving unique locations such as the South Downs National Park, locally produced food and drinks and local cultural attractions, such as art galleries, museums and vineyards.
This was the core message of the University of Brighton’s Wish You Were Here event held at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, on Tuesday 20 March 2018.
Run in partnership with VisitEngland as part of the English Tourism Week, the event attracted over 50 local tourism and hospitality businesses interested in exploring ‘different shades of green tourism’ in the county and latest consumer trends in the sector. Wish You Were Here was organised by the University’s Green Growth Platform and moderated by Professor Marina Novelli, academic lead for the University’s Responsible Futures Agenda, which is aimed at contributing to a more just and environmentally sustainable society, through the development of research and enterprise collaborations with local, national and international industry partners.
Speakers from Visit England, Rathfinny Wine estate, Green Tourism UK, the De La Warr Pavilion and the University of Brighton shared their experiences of how engaging in green tourism makes business sense.
Richard James of Alfriston’s Rathfinny Wine Estate spoke about the sustainable management of their vineyard and how this has embraced working with local suppliers and community members. The quality wine they produce, the locally sourced food served in their restaurant and the furnishing of their visitor accommodation are a testimony of their commitment to green tourism. He also highlighted how securing the Protected Denomination of Origin stamp for their Sussex produced wine has helped put the county on the map internationally.
Sally Ann Lycett of the De La Warr Pavilion shared ways in which their Grade 1 listed venue has been transitioned into a more environmentally friendly one, and how popular their coastal cultural trail with cyclists and walkers, linking Bexhill’s De La Warr Pavilion, Hastings’ Jerwood Gallery and Eastbourne’s Towner Gallery.
Keri Portas of VisitEngland described the latest national tourism trends and how they played out locally. Delegates heard that in East Sussex, 76 per cent of tourism spend is by the domestic audience, and East Sussex is the 12th most popular county in the country for staycations, highlighting also its green tourism potential.
Participating businesses learnt about grants available through the Low Carbon Across the South East (LoCASE) programme aimed at supporting local business in reducing their energy bills, their carbon footprint and attracting an increasing number of conscious consumers, expecting their chosen holiday destinations to reflect green tourism standards.
Professor Novelli said: “Green tourism presents a huge opportunity for businesses in East Sussex. Green tourism can mean a number of things and every local business can engage in different shades of the green tourism agenda attracting a growing segment of environmentally conscious travellers. Sourcing food locally, embracing renewable energy, encouraging domestic tourists to visit local attractions are only examples.
“It is important for local businesses to embrace green tourism practices as it makes business sense. With East Sussex being such a popular tourist destination, we have the opportunity to be at the forefront of the green tourism agenda nationally and internationally.”