Outcome 10: Great Places to Work
A diverse, sustainable, dynamic economy which is positively linked to the special qualities of the National Park.
- WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Establishing and maintaining a healthy economy is essential to underpin the landscapes and communities of the National Park.
There are over 8000 businesses within the boundary, providing jobs for 54,480 people. Of those, 98% are micro businesses with fewer than 10 employees, or small businesses with 10−49 employees.
Farming and forestry is the 3rd largest sector, with over 700 land-based businesses employing around 3000 people, and our natural capital is heavily dependent on this sector.
For example, as described elsewhere, woodland provides a wide range of public benefits: 32% is managed on a commercial basis, and much of the remainder for amenity purposes.
The visitor economy, which currently accounts for only 10% of businesses and has
potential for growth, greatly relies on the landscapes and the special qualities of the National Park to provide opportunities for recreation, food and drink, and health and wellbeing.
For this outcome our priorities for the next five years are:
- 10.1 STRENGTHEN ENTERPRISE
To strengthen and support sustainably managed land-based industries and local enterprise.
A key challenge in the changing economic climate is to nurture the existing businesses and support investment in new enterprise.
However, it is also important for our businesses to improve their sustainability, by boosting their environmental performance and actively seeking to employ local people, source local products and support other local businesses.
Local businesses play a crucial role in ensuring the economic viability of National
Park communities (see above), and a positive community economic cycle is crucial.
Research has shown every £1 spent locally is worth more than 400% to the local economy. By encouraging our communities to buy locally, we help support sustainable local businesses creating employment, ensuring that more young
people and young families are able to choose to live and work in the community they call home, thus reducing the amount of out commuting, currently at 43% in the National Park.
We will work with government to increase the amount of business support, and ensure a good supply of employment space through the South Downs Local Plan.
- 10.2 INCREASE DESTINATION AWARENESS
To increase awareness and desirability of the South Downs as a special place to visit.
Supported by a wide variety of holiday accommodation, we want visitors to delve deeper and connect with wildlife, history, culture and cuisine.
The Authority and its partners will therefore work together and create unique experiences for visitors which also benefit our communities and businesses.
Local awareness of the National Park has grown steadily − in 2018 82% of respondents noted that they were aware of being inside it, compared to 77% of people surveyed in 2011.
But the National Park still has a low national and international profile and we intend to change this.
Research has shown that once people are aware of the sensitivity of their surroundings they are more likely to take action and care for the place.
Working with tourism partners and local providers, the Authority’s Communications & Engagement Strategy aims to take visitors on a journey from awareness to becoming an active champion for the National Park.
- 10.3 PROMOTE SUSTAINABLE TOURISM
To establish the South Downs as an exemplar in sustainable tourism.
The South Downs attracted an estimated 18.8million visits in 2016, the highest of any UK National Park.
However, at £342 million, the attributed visitor spend was one of the lowest per head, though it still supported approximately 4,900 full time equivalents. This is because the majority are day visitors, either living or staying in the surrounding area.
The visitor economy also differs across the National Park: in 2018 only 6% of total visitors surveyed were using accommodation inside the National Park, showing the potential for growth in provision elsewhere.
Growth in international visits will help increase the economic impact of tourism
to the South Downs and support employment opportunities by increasing demand and visitor spend.
Tourism brings economic benefits but can also put pressure on popular ‘hotspots’.
Businesses can reduce negative impacts by enabling visitors to have outstanding experiences out of season and accessible by public transport.
A combination of partners including tourism businesses and operators, the Authority, other UK National Park Authorities, Visit England and Visit Britain and local destination partners, will develop new projects which support a resilient sustainable tourism economy in the National Park, in line with the South Downs Local Plan and the Authority’s Sustainable Tourism Strategy.
Example: National Park Experience Collection – Discover England Fund
This exciting Discover England Fund funded project brings together nine of England’s National Parks including the South Downs to attract international visitors into our National Parks.
It is the first time England’s National Parks have worked together on a project of this nature.
The project aims to:
- Develop an overarching experiential brand in England’s National Parks.
- Develop a framework to enable local businesses to be engaged in the offer, improve their productivity and enhance the overall visitor experience.
- Create and deliver a range of compelling world-class experiences within most of England’s National Parks highlighting the distinctive nature and assets of each.
- Develop a travel trade strategy to stimulate commercial partnerships that successfully connect the brand and its bookable product with our targeted overseas markets.
In January 2019, the English National Park Experience Collection launched a set of 72 new visitor experiences along with 85 accommodation providers across these nine National Parks to the industry after a year of working with businesses and the trade. The nine National Parks are now looking at how to continue
the success of our joint tourism venture.