Last year, more people than ever were considering an ‘Eastercation’ in the UK with Brighton being one of the top seaside locations to visit. This year however, the 2020 holiday season will not see the same kick-start it experienced last year missing a potential boost to the UK economy of £1.8 billion.
The city of Brighton & Hove is an internationally recognised destination in its own right and boasts a strong visitor-based economy. Before COVID-19 Greater Brighton was one of the fastest-growing city regions in the UK, rated in the top five for jobs growth in the past five years and one of the best places to start a new business.
A striking picture
It is obvious to see from the pictures of deserted high streets, empty beaches across our beautiful coastline and closed tourist hot spots across West Sussex, the huge impact that is currently being felt by the leisure and tourism sector and here are just a few of the stories we have heard.
“A major resort on the South Coast have had to cancel all bookings and are taking the difficult decision to lay off staff.”
“A bar and restaurant company in Brighton have seen all their income disappear. The company was in the middle of expansion but thankfully was able to back out of opening a third site. They are now focused on diversifying their revenue by developing merchandise and branded beer to sell.”
“A theme park operator based in Brighton has told us that COVID-19 has had a huge effect on the business with zero cash flow. The owner is using his own money to support employees until being reimbursed from furloughing.”
We are coming together with key partners in the tourism and leisure sector in West Sussex to discuss the immense challenge being faced and details about a webinar on this topic will be launched shortly.
“The travel and tourism sector has been battling the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak since January this year, with the current fallout causing significant upheaval across the globe for aviation, as well as inbound, outbound and domestic tourism. In West Sussex the tourism sector is worth around £2 billion and supports more than 37,000 jobs. Industry discussion is mixed regarding recovery timeframes, what the future will look like and who will be winners and losers. Views range from a very upbeat and optimistic V shape bounce back to a very sobering L shaped economic depression that will dwarf the downturns from the 2008 recession and 9/11.”
“For destinations, it is an opportunity to rethink and plan what tourism is wanted, to be more sustainable, work for the local communities and be kinder to the planet. Domestic tourism is going to be a dominating strength for destinations for at least a couple of years but what the nuances will actually look like, it is too early to say. Outdoors, escapism, wellbeing and ability to book individual units will undoubtedly do very well in the first throws of freedom.”
Jo Williams - Partnership Manager (Experience West Sussex Partnership)
Experience West Sussex - West Sussex 2018 Infographic