Axe poised over VisitBrighton services

Services at Brighton and Hove’s tourism marketing arm face the axe as the city council looks to save £25 million in the next financial year.

A tourism advisory board, which was set up to examine the future of the sector in the city, has concluded that VisitBrighton’s current model is financially unrealistic.

The leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, Councillor Warren Morgan, has told CN that services will have to be outsourced to third parties in the future.

A spokesman for the Tourism Advisory Board said: “The Tourism Advisory Board (TAB) has come to the end of its two year period with no clear solution for a sustainable future for tourism in Brighton.

“TAB recognises however a need to continue conversations with key tourism stakeholders, councillors and council officers.

“The key discussion throughout the term of TAB has been the future of VisitBrighton and looking at the most sustainable body for tourism going forward. TAB worked with the Council to commission an independent review of tourism services which recommended creating an arms length body independent of the council. Research into options for outsourcing as a stand-alone or sharing with an existing organisation followed.

“The reality is that with the current structure within Visit Brighton a stand alone version cannot survive without council funding. For the same reasons outsourcing to an existing organisation is not an option. Also, Brighton sees itself as a unique destination, which does not lend itself to being shared with others.

“At the current time, the council funding for the future of tourism has not been defined enough to proceed with alternative investigations, but tourism leaders, with council members, will continue to look at options recognising the importance of tourism to the city both for the local economy and job creation. However, until the position on future council funding is clear, no immediate decision can be taken and TAB recognised that all the tourism bodies will continue to work with Visit Brighton until a more financially realistic model can emerge which has the support of all involved in the city’s tourism industry. TAB has created an opportunity for positive dialogue between the main tourism stakeholders in the city and it is important this this continues.”

Cllr. Morgan said: “The Tourism Advisory Board members have made a valuable contribution to discussions on securing the future of tourism services for the city.

“Our intention is to keep that city-wide forum going, but in a different format with a small number of sessions a year where we can engage with the tourism sector on major items for the city.

“We also intend to continue to pursue third party options for providing visitor services in the city as part of our modernisation programme.

“The Tourism Advisory Board acknowledges that we face difficult financial challenges across the council.

“We will work together with the industry to continue delivering the services that welcome millions of visitors to the city every year.

The Tourism Advisory Board has established an excellent framework on which we can build.”

John Keenan

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John Keenan

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