Experience West Sussex’s Tourism Symposium on 29th March brought together tourism and hospitality professionals to hear the latest trends in the sector and discover a range of funding and support available.

A quick poll in the room found that the biggest challenges facing businesses in the sector in 2022 were rising energy bills (61%) followed by funding challenges (57%) then labour shortages (42%), Covid uncertainty (29%) with net zero and the skills gap coming in last.

In answer to the funding challenges, Jo Williams from Experience West Sussex Partnership (UK) explained that the room was full of solutions from Coast 2 Capital, The Business Hothouse, Sussex Chamber of Commerce, LoCase, Business West Sussex, RISE… and more!

Osnat Borreda from VisitBritain and VisitEngland talked the room through the latest statistics:

  • Tourism trips and spend is worth £100.8bn to the UK economy
  • The sector employs 3.1m people, which is 9.6% of all UK jobs
  • Tourism supports 200,000 SMEs -many of which are located in coastal and rural communities
  • Flight bookings are up – last week’s data shows they are only 30% down on 2019
  • Inbound visits to the UK are predicted to reach 21.1m in 2022, which is 52% of 2019
  • Traveller confidence is growing but reassurances are still needed with guaranteed refunds on cancellation
  • In terms of international markets, the USA is ‘cautiously optimistic’ but Japan and especially China are still struggling.
  • Happily, the UK is the leading long-haul destination for Australia.
  • Lots of pent-up demand from India and GCC

There are two campaigns for businesses to jump on board with:

Domestic: ‘Escape the everyday’ – focus is on cities and younger travellers. Continues until June 2022. Free industry tools and assets here.

International: ‘Welcome to another side of Britain’. Details and assets here.

There are several business recovery webinars to attend – the next on 6th April. On 27 September VisitBritain is organising an event on ‘Taking England to the world’ which includes a specific session on West Sussex. Registrations open soon!

To get involved with Experience West Sussex, visit www.experiencewestsussex.com and contact the team to find out more.

Experience West Sussex’s Tourism Symposium at the South Downs National Park Centre