Tourism in the South Downs

Tourism in the South Downs National Park economy is worth over £450 million each year (a small slice of the £106bn a year that Tourism contributes to British economy), supporting almost 12,000 jobs and countless thousands more in related services. But we know it could be bigger.
The challenge for the South Downs tourism industry is two-fold:
  • Develop a year-round visitor economy: There are things to do in the South Downs throughout the year, not just in the favourable weather of Spring & Summer. The every changing countryside and protected coastline can be enjoyed at any time. We have the infrastructure – many superb hotels, inns, B&Bs & self-catering cottages. There are many Attractions investing in ‘rainy day’ activities themselves to grow their year round offerings. With many of the historic houses, museums and galleries being accessible year round. Our food and drink offering is already world class, with many producers, breweries & vineyards seeing significant year on year growth. Promoting South Downs year-round tourism will grow employment.
  • We need day trippers to become stay visitors: In 2015, there were 46 million visitor days spent in the South Downs, however only 25% of tourists in the South Downs actually stayed in or near the South Downs. Just imagine how much the visitor economy would grow if just a fraction of those could be converted to staying visitors!

Why you should support tourism?

Potential visitors have to be told about the superb offering we have in the South Downs. They have to be excited, enticed and tempted. A strong brand is crucial to achieving that, which is why we’ve launched Visit South Downs.
The South Downs Tourism Partnership exists, we are working with tourism organisations across Hampshire, East & West Sussex as well as neighbouring areas of Surrey & Kent. Together we can speak with a more focused, louder voice. Visit South Downs amplifies the messages of our excellent destinations.
Visit South Down’s role is to be an entry point for people curious about discovering the area, but don’t know what it has. Visit South Down can signpost a potential visitor to the kind of break or holiday they might want – in the city, market towns, by the coast or in the countryside.

Destination management organisation vs Destination marketing organisation, what’s the difference?

Marketing of your destination in the South Downs is done at three levels:
  1. your local authority DMO,
  2. South Downs Tourism Partnership / Visit South Downs; and
  3. Visit South East England.
Some customers will not know about the South Downs but they want to come to the South East – they might arrive at ‘The Beautiful South’ (Visit South East England’s website). Some customers will want to come to the South Downs but don’t know what’s here – they will enter at the Visit South Downs level, be told about the destinations and then passed on to either the local authority DMO or the tourism business directly. Others know exactly where they want to go and will enter straight at the local level. This catch-all activity means we have multiple opportunities to attract the potential visitor.
We do not want to duplicate the activity of the local Destination Management Organisations that the South Downs Tourism Partnership works with, our aim is to bridge to divide between the micro-economy of particular towns and the macro-economy of the South East of England. The National Park Authority is very much an organisation who will develop policies and strategies to ‘manage’ the South Downs as a destination, the purpose of Visit South Downs (the South Downs Tourism Partnership) is to market the South Downs and attract a greater share of visitor spend.

Visit South Downs / South Downs Tourism Partnership

The South Downs Tourism Partnership is a membership organisation, but it does not compete with the local DMOs. We are an independent not-for-profit organisation. The Local DMO’s in the South Downs area are, in the main, run by the Local Authorities in each area, as such are focussed on destination management at a policy & strategy level.
The South Down Tourism Partnership’s role is to help grow the overall visitor economy of the area. Within two clicks of being on the Visit South Downs website a potential customer can be on the website of your business or booking your accommodation. We offer basic listings on the website for free, and members gain many additional features including the ability to use our booking & distribution platforms as well as access to our discounted training & events.

We are a non-profit, marketing the South Downs as the destination of choice.

We are independent of local authorities and government funding, and therefore can act in the legitimate interest of the tourism businesses we represent.

All our member businesses are local businesses including those working in accommodation, hospitality, attractions, adventure activities, retail, business tourism, and the promotion of active lifestyles. All of our financial support comes from our members. By joining the South Downs Tourism Partnership you can promote your own business and help to keep the South Downs up there amongst the world’s best tourism locations.

All members of the South Downs Tourism Partnership benefit from the following:

  • A FREE basic listing on visitsouthdowns.com and further presence on the website dependent on membership level.
  • Access to a programme of free & subsidised training events aimed at the membership of the Tourism Partnership.
  • Special member rates for all of our premium advertising options.
  • Regular business e-newsletters to update you of stories affecting the South Downs and surrounding areas.
  • Social media channels to further promote your business.
  • The ability to promote any events, special offers and special breaks/menus via the Visit South Downs website free of charge.
  • Notification of our upcoming consumer and business to business marketing campaigns, with special member rates for inclusion.
  • Invitation to tourism business networking events.