LETTER: City needs a joined-up tourist strategy

Boosting local tourism and creating more jobs.

I read with interest your recent article on the above.

Whilst the initiative is to be applauded it will fail unless the Chichester District Council and additionally West Sussex for once actually have a coherent joined up strategy.

I would cite recent examples of what I mean –

:; Only a few years ago funds were withdrawn from Visit Chichester and the Tourist Office moved from a prominent site in South Street to be tucked away in The Novium.

:: Car parking charges continue to rise and the recent proposed evening rise to ‘milk’ the city’s entertainment assets the Festival Theatre and also New Park Cinema with additional charges is beyond belief. These rises however they are justified will not encourage tourists into the city.

:: We close public toilets.

:: Rents in the city centre do little to encourage the small business and we continue to have a glut of chain retailers and restaurants that you can find in any town or city centre. To use a marketing expression, what is Chichester’s unique selling point? Maybe we should ask people what that is.

:: Developments such as Chichester Gate need a complete rethink as to what th USP is.

:: I hate to throw this in but the debacle of the A27 does us no favours, as does the recent train dispute to encourage visitors.

I fully support the comments made by Nick Sutherland but it goes a lot deeper than cuts in rural pubs non domestic rates.

As a hospitality industry we have to suffer one of the highest VAT rates in Europe, one of the highest duties on drink outside of Scandinavia.

In addition to a raft of other costs that as an industry we have absorbed for some years but inevitably prices will have to rise. We are seeing some of the highest rates of incoming tourism in recent years to the UK but are we yet in the league to compete with Bath, York, Chester, Winchester etc. Sadly, I fear not for many years to come and also for a lack of strategy and commitment.

One is aware of the constraints on local government expenditure but to offer £50,000 for a sector that report says generates £411.4m for the area seems a very small drop in a very large ocean. I have run a business in Chichester for nearly 14 years and seen several of these ‘strategies’ in that time. Why will this one be any different?

D.H. Casson

Cassons Restaurant

Arundel Road

Tangmere