Agenda item

Arun Visitor Strategy

A recommendation was made in the “Arun District Tourism Review of 2020” to commission a new Visitor Economy Strategy for the district, and this was approved by the Economy Committee in August 2022.  Consultants Blue Sail were commissioned in March 2023 to produce a strategy document for the next five years 2023 – 2028. This report provides member with the new strategy for endorsement.



The Tourism Development Officer introduced to members her report and the Visitor Strategy created by Blue Sail Consultants. She explained that the strategy sets out 8 priorities and suggested actions to guide the strategy delivery for the next 5 years', subject to available resources. She confirmed that a members’ briefing about the strategy was recently held and a recording of that briefing was still available for members to view should they not have been able to attend.


             The Chair then invited questions from members and during the debate the following was raised, it was stated that it was felt there was missing element in terms of what the strategy was marketing. The marketing of the Arun District was believed to not be the right focus. There should be specific focus through Sussex by the Sea on Bognor Regis and Littlehampton as both had unique identities, from Butlins and the seafront with a soon to be refurbished Alexandra Theatre in Bognor Regis to the offering of excellent growing number of restaurants and cafes in Littlehampton. It was suggested that highlighting these offerings would ensure that not only visitors but that residents living in the district would be drawn in to make use of what facilities were available. Additionally, it was commented that there was an under catered sector in terms of glamping, mobile home and caravan tourers that could be tapped into with the attraction of the open spaces between the coastal plain and the downs the district had to offer. It was noted that the marketing of the district as ‘Sussex by the Sea’ was the subject of the next agenda item.


          One member stated that it was disappointing to note that only 2 out of 54 members had taken up the opportunity to be a part of the visitor strategy consultation work that had been completed. It was questioned how the priorities would be shown to be achieved and if a focus on business visitors was the right direction. The actions confirmed that there was a ‘clear pull’ to Arundel, but it was stated that more work was needed on this aspect, along with understanding the level of interest regarding glamping and alternative accommodation within the district. A focus on advertising Arun as a place to invest was requested. It was queried if a further report would be presented to committee to update on the actions implemented and covering how they were delivering for the district.


          Other comments made were that both Bognor Regis and Littlehampton were focused on ensuring that the Towns were as accessible as possible for all abilities. Focus and encouragement should be given to advertising Littlehampton as a ‘day trip’ destination and working with Coach companies to ensure this was offered should be picked up. It was stated that the marketing behind Sussex by the Sea had been gaining good social media presence and this was a great tool for local businesses to use and feed into. The report stated that Brexit and Covid-19 Pandemic had created challenges, however the challenges also created opportunities that could be pursued to the district’s betterment. There was a differing of opinion across the committee in relation to earlier comments made about the opportunities that could be gained from caravan visitors as it was also felt that these visitors would not stay long in the area when travelling through the district and the strategy should focus on achieving visitors who would stay and make use of the accommodation already available. If the current accommodation was not good enough, then a focus to expand and improve this should also be considered. 


          The Group Head of Economy was invited by the Chair to respond to the points raised during the debate where she provided a response to the key points raised and confirmed that an additional update report could be brought back to committee as requested.


            The recommendations were proposed by Councillor Cooper and seconded by Councillor Walsh.


            The Committee




                        2.1 that it endorsed the new Visitor Strategy for 2023 – 2028 and;


2.2 that it supported officers’ delivery of priorities and actions as set out in the strategy.


Supporting documents: