Consultants will draw up a 10-year plan to promote Brighton and Hove as a tourist destination and a centre for creative industries.

The proposed Creative Destination Vision and Strategy is due to be drafted and signed off in the coming year and to cover the period from 2025 to 2035.

One city councillor, discussing a report about the 10-year plan, said that it was full of “fluffy” words and ideas and officials would be better off drawing up a “prospectus” to attract investors.

But another said that those words were needed to set out “where we are, where we want to go and how we are going to get there”.

The report to councillors said: “Two of Brighton and Hove’s biggest economic contributors are the creative and visitor economies.

“The visitor economy was worth £880 million in economic benefit and supported more than 23,425 jobs in the city which equates to 16 per cent of all employee jobs in Brighton and Hove.

“With induced and indirect spend, the total value of tourism was worth £1.27 billion in 2022.”

Samer Bagaeen Conservative Westdene And Hove Park

Samer Bagaeen Conservative Westdene And Hove Park

Conservative councillor Samer Bagaeen wanted to know more about the brief for the consultants and said that the description of Brighton and Hove as a creative destination was “lovely but fluffy”.

He said that the council should produce a prospectus to attract businesses, jobs and investment rather than drawing up a strategy and trying to deliver its objectives.

Councillor Bagaeen told a meeting at Hove Town Hall that the council needed to focus on investment in the latest digital infrastructure that would make vital inward investment more likely.

He said that it should also focus on the human capital and skills on offer here as well as the spaces needed by growing firms.

He added: “I would like to see a prospectus for Brighton and Hove on the cultural and creative industries. That is what is going to bring the investment in. That is the sort of ambition we should have.”

One of Brighton and Hove City Council’s most senior officials, Donna Chisholm, said that the focus would be on those areas where the local economy had a “competitive advantage”.

She said that professional experts would help the council to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the different sectors of the local economy and decide where to provide a boost.

Labour councillor Ty Goddard said that there was a budget to develop a business prospectus for Brighton and Hove – “the really whopping figure of £40,000 … but at least it’s better than nothing.”

Councillor Goddard said: “We have quite a shoddy web page at the moment that says, ‘Hello! We quite like business, sort of, in the city. Do come and grow in Brighton.’

“We’re going to get a bit more sophisticated around our business proposition.”

He also said: “We cannot afford to just be a strategy-producing council. I’ve lost count, as perhaps lots of people have, of the number of strategies that we have.

“We’ve got to avoid duplication. We’ve got to be much more proactive about how we sell the city. We’ve got to be really focued on some of those issues and we’ve also got to avoid duplication.”

The report to councillors said: “The Creative Destination Strategy will celebrate, promote and support the city’s unrivalled history and heritage, its world-class arts and culture, its booming creative industries, its position as a leading centre for conferencing and major events and its outstanding restaurants, cafés, hotels, pubs and bars to UK and global visitors.

“It will set out a vision for the city to strengthen its identity as a world-leading leisure and business destination for UK and global visitors, workers and residents to enjoy.”

At a meeting of the council’s culture, heritage, sport, tourism and economic development committee, Labour councillor Jilly Stevens thanked those who had prepared the report.

Councillor Stevens said: “I know that they are as committed as we are to restoring Brighton and Hove to its former place as the city to visit and to live, for real innovation and creativity.

“We desperately need a long-term strategy. I very much hope that I’ll be as active and able to make the most of living here in 10 years’ time.

“I might not be as spring-like as I am at the moment but I know that my children and my grandchildren will be here.

“And it’s for them, isn’t it, that we look ahead and plan for the future, which is why this is a 10-year plan.

“It’s not lots of good, lovely, exciting, little piecemeal projects that perhaps we’ve done in the past. This is something that is quite serious and it’s visionary.

“A proper strategy that involves everyone – and that is individuals, communities, businesses – and businesses are important in this – is absolutely crucial to realising our dream of a rejuvenated Brighton and Hove. And we do have that dream still in our heads.

“I don’t really like the word strategy but it’s difficult to come up with an alternative. We’re talking about a long-term plan.

“And, yes, at the moment, it is lots of words. And that’s what people have said to me. Oh, you know, you come up with all the words.

“But we do have to set out what we are going to do and where we are, where we want to go and how we are going to get there – and it takes words to start with.

“So we’re doing it in a way that involves people’s ideas – as many as we can – before we get down to action. But that is what we will do. We will act. It’s not just words.

“Not because it’s nice to say we live somewhere arty farty and creative and forward-thinking and trendy, but because it’s all about money. It’s how our city will create wealth again.

“We need money. We need money to tackle our problems of poverty and inequality. We need money to rejuvenate our city centre.

“And we need to be, and we really will be, a prosperous city again. The Brighton and Hove that we all know and love. And this report will help us get there.”

Green councillor Raphael Hill asked why consultants were needed and said that the cost of their work was unclear – and that this was a concern given other cuts in the council’s budget.

The committee voted o buy in the services of consultants during the spring and ask them to engage “with communities and sectors” and draft the strategy.