Businesses, volunteers and council partners were told the welcome news at Southend’s fourth Annual Tourism Conference, where representatives of Visit Essex also stated that Southend was experiencing an increase in overnight stays – the only borough in the county to do so.
The conference, held on Southend Pier last week, saw attendees sharing ideas for the upcoming season and reviewing the town’s progress against its ambitious tourism strategy, Destination Southend-on-Sea, which aims to propel the town to being “England’s number one coastal destination.”
Delivering excellent customer service was a key theme of the conference, following on from the ‘Make Southend Sparkle’ campaign, which sees residents and businesses join forces to spruce up the borough’s streets with litter picks, beach cleans and planting.
Place branding and developing better communications were also key themes that delegates were keen to highlight.
Scott Dolling, Director of Culture, Tourism and Property, said: “News that more people are visiting Southend and that they are staying longer is a real boon for the town and shows that businesses, volunteers and the council are working well together to deliver against our ambitious tourism strategy.
“That this news comes before the Easter Holidays – which typically sees the year’s first large surge of visitors and will this year welcome the Southend Shakedown Resurrection – is especially welcome.
“This conference, now in its fourth year, helps bring like-minded, positive businesses and organisations together to see how we can work better together for the benefit of the town and its economy.
Jacqui Dallimore, chair of the Southend Tourism Partnership, said: “Southend welcomes 7.5 million visitors a year, with tourism supporting 9,500 people through direct employment and bringing £440m into the local economy. It’s vital that Southend’s visitor offer continues to grow and evolve and the Annual Tourism Conference is crucial in setting the tone and establishing the priorities for the visitor season ahead.”