A war of words has broken out between tourism business and city chiefs. Members of the Brighton and Hove Tourism Alliance, BHTA, say they are angry that their voice is being ignored by Brighton and Hove City Council.
The BHTA represents major attractions such as the Sea Life Centre, Churchill Square Shopping Centre, the Palace Pier and the Hilton Brighton Metropole. Chairwoman Claire Ottewell claimed plans for greater involvement of business owners in the planning of tourism marketing had been shelved.
The Stepping Out consultancy, based in Suffolk, was paid £7,000 to draw up a report on a new structure for marketing Brighton and Hove as a tourist destination.
One of its key recommendations was the Brighton Centre should fund a “Destination Marketing Organisation” – a private firm which would carry out the work currently done by Visit Brighton. This would be also be funded by businesses and the public sector.
But Ms Ottewell now claims the Green-run council wants the marketing of the city to remain in-house with Visit Brighton.
She said: “We have spent 18 months campaigning for businesses to have a greater say on how tourism strategy is formulated. We are angry and frustrated that we are being marginalised.”
Councillor Geoffrey Bowden, chairman of the Economic Development and Culture Committee at Brighton and Hove City Council, said the Stepping Out recommendations have been not been dropped.
He said: “The Tourism Alliance is simply wrong to claim that the administration has shelved the report it commissioned from Stepping Out.
“Work is ongoing and we will be announcing our response in due course. In the meantime, it is worth noting that the outcome of the Tourism Alliance’s own DMO workshop for industry experts and held on January 16 in the Brighthelm Centre were inconclusive that this was the correct option for Brighton and Hove.
“The administration will continue to work with both Visit Brighton’s 450 members and the Tourism Alliance’s 24 members to ensure that the sector’s voice is heard and reflected in its marketing of the city nationally and internationally.”
Tony Mernagh, executive director at the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership, said: “The Tourism Alliance has some credible big-hitters in its membership and I would imagine that they are more than capable of winning the council over if they have constructive, well-thought-out ideas to offer.”
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