Visitor Experience and Marketing Officer
Judy joined the local authority just under a year ago as the Councils Visitor Experience and Marketing Officer and has brought a fresh approach to tourism in Worthing.
With the aim of bringing marketing in line with the changing demographic of the town - successes to date including developing a good relationship with visitor related businesses, introducing the new Discover Worthing branding, the launch of the new Discover Worthing website.
At the weekend you'll generally find Judy outdoors - swimming in the sea, cycling or walking on the South Downs.
Hello all, welcome back to my weekly blog. This week I thought we'd turn the spotlight on the Events and Markets teams for whom, in professional terms, this most wonderful time of year means just one thing - weeks of hard work culminating in one (or in this case a number of tightly packed) big bang events.
It's easy to forget the amount of planning, organising, booking, corresponding, setting up, breaking down etc. etc. that goes on behind the scenes to bring even the regular Farmers' or Artisans' Markets to fruition. Add to this the organisation of choirs, entertainment, kids trails, trees, window displays, lights, lights and more lights - not to mention scheduling in a few well behaved reindeer - and you'll understand why planning for our Christmas 'do's' began back in July!
The first of the councils Christmas events - Light up Shoreham, takes place today - Friday 8th December from 4pm to 9pm. It looks like it's going to be a corker with over 50 individual traders selling festive goodies plus local performers, the cast of the Ropetackle panto, the Worthing Rock Choir and did I mention, a wee family of real life fluffy reindeer who will be hanging out under the crisp clear moonlit sky ... If it's not already in your diary for tonight this event will be well worth dropping in on.
Shoreham looks like the place to be this weekend because on Saturday we've got the Shoreham Christmas Farmers' Market. Over the last 15 months this monthly market has grown and refined, with more and more specialist local producers lining up to take a pitch. As ever, the final market before Christmas will be extra special. This will be a chance to pick up local Sussex produce including essentials like fruit and veg (don't forget the sprouts) as well as homemade Christmas puddings, Shoreham Gin and a local Cherry Brandy.
Hey presto - your larder will be fully stocked with delicious goodies well in advance of the big day.
Over the coming weeks you'll also find Christmas markets taking place at Southwick and Lancing on Saturday 16th December and at Shoreham - the Artisans' Market, which takes place on Saturday 23rd December and is designed, I presume, for people like me who, no matter how hard they try, always end up leaving it to the last minute !
- Markets in Shoreham, Lancing and Southwick - on the Adur & Worthing Councils website
- Christmas markets and fayres - listed on the Discover Worthing website
- What's on in December - on the Discover Worthing website
Hello all, welcome back to my weekly blog focusing on Worthing as a visitor destination and well... all things fun in the town.
Last week my blog on grown-up festive fun proved very popular, so this week I thought we'd turn the focus on the smaller members of our community - the kids. Certainly in our family there has been excitement about Christmas now for at least three months - no pressure there then!
I have to admit I always feel like that build up to Christmas (and now seems a reasonable time to start) is almost the best bit.
So let's take a look at wonderful Worthing and neighbouring areas to see what's in store for kids in the run up to Christmas:
Ice ice baby - Ice Skating
Mummies and Daddies, it's time to let out your inner Torvill and Dean. Put your skates on at Worthing's all weather Ice Rink - perfect for all the family with mini penguins for little ones to cling onto when things get slippery.
All I want for Christmas - Santa's Grotto
Step aboard the Wonderland Train and visit Santa in his Christmas Grotto at Field Place this Christmas. A host of fun activities, fun fair rides and Christmas crafts including Christmas card making and cupcake decorating, face painting and much more is all included.
For those in the centre of Worthing, pop along to the Regnante School of Performing Arts on the 17th December when they'll be kids Christmas Crafts as well as a chance to meet Santa in his Grotto.
He's behind you - Christmas Shows
No family Christmas would be complete without a trip to the Panto. There are three taking place locally so take your pick:
Worthing Theatres have another swashbuckling production - this year's panto is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Including a star studded cast with none other than golden boy of the 1990's, Chesney Hawkes.
Alternatively why not pop along to the Robert Woodward Academy and check out their production of Wendy and Peter Pan (5/6/7th December). With Tickets £7 adults and £5 kids this won't break the bank.
For those of you nearer to Shoreham - tickets are still available for Dick Whittington at the Ropetackle Arts Centre
If you fancy something a little different from a traditional panto but guaranteed to have the kids in stitches, book in for Father Christmas comes up Trumps at the Connaught Theatre (sequel to Nicholas Allan's Father Christmas needs Wee).
So lots of fun for the tiddly peeps - for more information on these and other seasonal events check out the What's on pages on the Discover Worthing website.
Welcome back to my weekly blog - hope last week's top tips for independent Christmas shopping have come in handy and you've got some of those gifts in the bag - ho ho ho!
This week I've put together my tips for a grown up fun festive day out around Worthing which will really get you into the Christmas spirit ... (look out for my tips for a top festive day out with the kids' Christmas next week).
So here's the plan:
8:30am Start the day with a hearty breakfast - you'll be able to pick up lots of good local Sussex produce at our Wednesday or new Saturday (Portland Road) Farmers Markets - check out local suppliers for Eggs (The Macs Farm or Simon's Free Range Eggs), bacon & sausages (Brooks Pork)
9:30am Get up and out - chances are the sun will be shining so wrap up warm and stride out along the prom - nothing beats watching those crashing waves, the smell of that fresh sea air and the sun on your face, a great free dose of vitamin D.
10:30am Get creative and book onto one of Worthing Museum's Christmas Workshops:
- Saturday 9th December: 12 Seasonal Macramé Decorations
- Saturday 16th December: Seasonal Wreath Making
1:00pm With all that crafting you might be peckish - check out Discover Worthing's website for some tasty lunch ideas form stone baked pizzas, freshly made burgers to Turkish meze - take your pick.
2:00pm Check out the latest free exhibition at Colonnade House
3:00pm Warwick Street's Christmas lights bring a touch of magic - you'll find some great shops along here - Harmony at Home for kids clothes, Griffin for men's wear, Retro Daisy for a Christmas party dress with a 1950's touch.
4:30pm Snuggle with a pot of tea and a warm mince pie at one of our top tea spots - try The Dome Tea House or add in spectacular sea views from the Southern Pavilion Café.
Or ... pop in for a well-earned pint of local ale or a warming Whisky Mac in front for a real fire - at one of our cosy micro pubs or bars - The Corner House, the downstairs bar at the Marine View guest house both have toastie wood burners.
Top off the evening with a Christmas concert - you can't beat a good sing song.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Thursday 14th December: The Rowland Singers with guest pianist Helen Emery
- Saturday 16th December: Worthing Choral Society Christmas Concert
- Sunday 17th December: Worthing Philharmonic Orchestra Christmas
- Tuesday 19th December: The Rowland Singers with guest pianist Helen Emery
- Thursday 21st December: South Coast Soul Revue's Christmas Party at the Libertine
- Thursday 21st December: The Rowland Singers with guests Lancing Brass
Another week gone, another week closer to the big C - oh blimey there's no getting away from it - it's only, well I'm not counting, but you know it'll be Christmas in no time.
We're going to need to get that Christmas shopping underway ASAP otherwise we'll get caught up in that dreadful last minute online panic buying - let's face it Amazon really do not need any more of our hard earned cash!
I am a big advocate of trying to find something unusual, useful, unique, hand-made for Christmas and if you can #shoplocal you know you're also supporting the town.
With the wealth of creative talent in this town you've got tons of opportunity to buy interesting and creative gifts for friends and family over the coming weeks.
So diaries out - here are some top picks of Pop Up Shops, Christmas Markets and local makers fairs coming up during the festive run up:
26th November: Warwick Street Traders' Christmas Event: 11am to 4pm
7th December: East Beach Artists' Christmas shopping event: 7pm to 9pm
12th to 23rd December: Colonnade House pop up shop
Every Tuesday to Saturday: Worthing Museum & Art Gallery 10am to 5pm: 10% discount for local residents in the #shoplocal scheme
17th December: Christmas Street Market, Bath Place: 10am to 4:30pm
Don't forget there are lots of other great independent shops around town - check out Warwick Street, and (my fav) Rowlands Road plus loads of fabulous open studios where you can pick up great pressies - The Forge Gallery, Field Row and West End Galleries spring to mind.
Plus don't miss an opportunity to pick up some Local Sussex produce:
8th December: Light up Shoreham Christmas Market: 4pm to 9pm
16th December: Lancing Christmas Market: 9am to 1pm
16th December: Southwick Square Christmas Market: 10am to 4pm
For more events see:
Christmas images: shopping at East Beach Studios, a Christmas figure, Shop local scheme flyer, and a shop interior
Welcome back to my weekly blog posts. Regular readers (and I trust you are one of those!) will recall my post of a few weeks back highlighting the success of the Jack on the Green Festival by Same Sky (see two blogs below).
This weekend saw another stonking event which literally lit up Worthing.
Despite taking place on a Sunday night the 2017 Tide of Light saw over 40,000 people take to the streets of Worthing - impressively, that's more than visited the Lewes Bonfire Night Celebrations this year!
The event crossed the generational divide to bring together people of all ages in lantern making, joining a riotous procession of glowing drummers, dancers and decorative lanterns of all shapes and sizes. Not to mention the fairground rides and of course the raison d'être, a magnificent Firework Display which lit the night sky and illuminated our precious pier.
Huge congratulations go out to the Community Group made up of local volunteers who work for many months to bring together what has grown to become an impressive event. And to the Worthing Lions who organise the fairground ride and the fireworks.
Credit must also go to the Councils' Events Officer, Pauline Freestone, in overseeing the event from a logistical point of view and bringing together emergency services to ensure the public safety on the night. Great job all!
So it seems lantern festivals are becoming a bit of a Worthing thing - don't forget we've also had the Worthing Light Festival which took place on East Beach back in September and why not, particularly as the nights draw in and as happens at this time of year, darkness descends all too soon.
Events such as this not only benefit the town economically but also really put us on the map. There's something magical about bringing the night sky to life and it seems, there's no end to the quirky creativity of lantern makers - the bigger, stranger and more wonderful the better if you ask me.
Welcome back to my weekly blog.
This week I've at last managed to find some time to knuckle down and start writing the new visitor guide for Worthing. The guide will form part of the new suite of Discover Worthing visitor information tools (website, bookmark, events calendars) which aim to extend visit times to the town and ensure people make the most of their stay here.
Part of the remit of both the website and visitor guide is to point people in the direction of some of the area's lesser known hidden gems. As with many towns stepping off the beaten track reaps rewards; Worthing is no exception.
Last Friday I grasped the opportunity (whilst the sun was shining) to grab a camera and take a trip to one of Worthing's real hidden gems, tucked away Tarring High Street.
Those long-time residents of Worthing will be well acquainted with Tarring High Street but for newbies and visitors it really does come as quite a surprise.
A visit to Tarring is like stepping back in time – history buffs will love the narrow, gently curved High Street which is lined with quaint flint and cobble covered cottages. It houses a number of medieval timber framed buildings including The Old Palace (Glebe Road) and Parish Church both which date back to the 13th Century as well as the 15th Century timber framed Parsonage Row.
As a bonus if you are feeling in need of a pit stop the High Street is still home to three cosy pubs (it used to have five!) - all of which serve food. There is also a rather lovely, family friendly tea shop, The Old Bake House, which serves a spectacular array of freshly baked cakes.
For more information prior to your visit plus links to other sites of historical interest around the town, read our latest historic Tarring High Street blog post - on the Discover Worthing.
Photo: The Parsonage in Tarring High Street
Outdoor events in the UK are always a bit nerve wracking - the great British weather has been known to flatten even the swankiest of alfresco do's, so as the end of last week grew nearer and discussions around Storm Brian turned into serious warnings of 'batten down the hatches' things were not looking good for Jack on the Green - our free, open air, family friendly lantern festival.
We'd had a fantastic response to the marketing for the event both on and offline; a Facebook post was shared over 211 times, reached 31k people and comments tagging in names of friends carried excited anticipation... Same Sky were coming to town!
Despite this, as the weekend approached with winds up to 70mph were predicted there looked like a strong possibility that weeks of planning and all the effort put in by local school kids to create the wonderful displays could quite literally get blown away.
It was more than touch and go on the day but in true 'show must go on spirit', at mid afternoon on Saturday Jack was given the given the green light. Luckily with social media by our sides we were able to connect with our audiences and let them know that Jack on the Green was indeed still taking place.
The response to the event was phenomenal with over 3,000 people taking part in workshops and trails over weekend. Within minutes of the trail opening, comments and photos tagging in Discover Worthing and A&W Councils started to flood onto our social media feeds - shots of little kids wrapped up against the weather posing with giant glowing fish structures, a huge purple Ganesh and brightly coloured giant squid made all the better for wind blown tentacles filled the screens.
Sometimes it's difficult to gauge the success of an event, particularly one that is not ticketed. This is where social media really comes into its own - reading the continuous stream of positive posts and comments says it all and goes a long way in uniting people in support of an event.
So where do we go from here? Well one bright spark suggested we have a Christmas lantern event - not sure we'll pull that off but fingers crossed we can deliver another lantern extravaganza in 2018.
Photo: a huge purple Ganesh was one of the lanterns at the Jack on the Green event
This week Zara Brazil, Judy's Tourism colleague is taking over the reins as Judy has gone in the search of sunnier climates for her holiday (who can blame her!).
A quick introduction about me: my name is Zara Brazil, I'm the Events & Tourism Coordinator. I work with Judy (Tourism) and Pauline Freestone (Events Officer), between the three of us we are the Events & Tourism team! I have been at the Council for just over a year now, starting just a few weeks after Judy and Pauline. It's been such a great and busy year for all of us, which has gone past so quickly I can't believe 2017 is nearly over ...
One of our main projects earlier in the year was the creation of the new Discover Worthing website. As I also work within Events I was very keen for the website to be a useful tool to advertise events within Worthing. We often have event details emailed to us, but lots of them I keep an eye out for on Facebook, local venue websites and generally whilst I'm around town. The more time I spend researching local events the more I realise how many events actually take place in Worthing and how I wish I had more time during my week so I could enjoy all of them!
Most of the events I research are to go on the Discover Worthing website, but we do also produce a printed Events leaflet which I design and create. Over the last few weeks I have been putting together the Winter Highlights version for November & December, this has just gone to print. These will soon be distributed around town and will be available online; they are well received in our local hotels.
Up until now the booking of Events on Council land has been expertly done by our Parks & Foreshore Team. This event application process is now moving to our team at the end of October, so soon I will have an even more hands-on role with booking in outdoor events that are taking place on Council owned land. There will be lots more to learn I'm sure!
I can't talk about Events without giving a few suggestions of upcoming outdoor events you should visit! So here they are:
- This weekend there will be the new Jack on the Green lantern trail around Beach House Park between 6pm and 8:30pm. I can't wait to visit it myself; it will be a great way to see the park in a different light (and for free!)
- The very popular Tide of Light will soon be here on Sunday 5th November. It's a great family friendly event with lantern making, a lantern parade, fireworks and more; it's one you definitely shouldn't miss.
These two events have been keeping my colleague Pauline extremely busy with the Event Safety Planning side of things, whereas I help more with the marketing of them. But there is another time of year looming that has given us lots of work since around June, which is of course Christmas in Adur!
Watch this space for what will be happening in December, but in the meantime I have just put together a blog post on Discover Worthing of activities and events taking place this Half Term. So if you are stuck for ideas of what to do next week then do take a look:
Photos: Jack on the Green Lanterns, Halloween, and The Hartlepool Monkey
Welcome back to my weekly blog where this week I thought I'd give you a break from tourism goings on and give you an opening into some of the other projects underway in the Place and Investment team.
While chatting to my colleague Angela Crane, who has recently joined the council as Economy and Skills officer, she was telling me about the upcoming Adur and Worthing Business Awards.
For those of you not in the know this is an annual event which celebrates local business success. 2017 just happens to be the 10th Anniversary - so all the more reason to give the event a shout out.
Categories for nomination are split into 18 different headings ranging from start-up business; Green Business; Innovation; and - of particular interest to me (from a purely professional level of course!) - Places to Eat and Drink; and Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure.
Nominations for the awards closed at the end of September and sadly despite doing the sad puppy eyes at her, Angela flatly refused to disclose who was in the list of nominations - so I'm as much in the dark about that as you.
I was however reliably informed that judging will take place this week and drum roll ... finalists will be officially announced on today (13th October - invariably this will be unlucky for some).
The big event will then take place on the 10th November at the Pavilion Theatre when around 350 Black tied Adur and Worthingites will rock up expectantly.
The event's official charity partners Love you Hospital will be in attendance and hoping to raise some well-deserved funds from the night - also in attendance will be the Mayor and Mayoress of Worthing and many of the local Councillors.
And for those of you who have been lucky enough to have been nominated ... GOOD LUCK!
Photo: Adur and Worthing Business 2016 Awards Winners
Photo: Cllr. Bryan Turner and Cllr. Brian Boggis presenting the 2016 Start-up Business Award
Welcome back to my weekly blog. It's week 13 - unlucky for some!
This week amongst a whole host of other projects, I've started work to promote a very exciting free event which is taking place in Worthing in just a couple of weeks' time.
Pauline Freestone, the Councils' super dooper Events Officer, has secured a partnership to bring a new lantern trail event to Beach House Park in Worthing on the 21st and 22nd of October 2017.
Jack on the Green is the brain child of Same Sky - the name may ring a bell as they are the largest community arts charity in the South East of England and are the creative talent behind Brighton's Burning The Clocks annual winter solstice parade which attracts around 20,000 people.
Same Sky's apt strap line 'create to celebrate' says it all. If you've ever seen the magical Children Parade which launches the Brighton Festival annually and involves over 5,000 children from 83 different schools you'll understand what I mean. As an aside, and for your amusement, I've actually taken part in the children's parade a number of times - once I had a starring role as the body in a huge tall chimney costume in a Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe themed float. Another useful accolade for the CV ...
In line with Worthing Borough Council's push to support the night time economy of the town, Jack on the Green will be a family friendly event taking place after dark.
It will see the glorious Beach House Park transformed into a magical lantern lit world with a fusion of vibrant colours illuminating historic trees and artistic sculptures.
Same Sky will be working with local schools in the lead up to the event and you can also get involved at one of the Lantern making workshops for kids (and keen adults) which will take place between 2pm and 4pm at the Palm Court Pavilion.
The trail will be open 6pm to 8:30pm both evenings. Admission to workshops and trail will be free although donations towards event costs will be welcomed.
So there you go put the date in your diary now Jack on The Green, Beach House Park 21st and 22nd October - it's going to be great ...
And ... don't forget you can keep up to date with the top pick of music, arts, family friendly and outdoor events in Worthing on the Discover Worthing website. Check out the What's on section of the website or even speedier, with just one click you can now access our 'What's on this week' tile on the home page - there's so much good stuff going on in the town and now you'll never need to miss out!
- Beach House Park
- What's on section of the Discover Worthing website
- What's on this week - on the Discover Worthing website
Photo: Jack on the Green - illuminated lanterns hanging in the trees at night below (and close up of a lantern above)
Welcome back to my weekly blog.
While most of my work is focused on getting out and about to bring people into Worthing, this week I stayed in to think about sustainability – a day's in-house training brought the issue to the fore giving both food for thought and an opportunity to come up with innovative ways in which the council can work more sustainably now and in the future.
Sustainability, and the speed with which we humans are burning through unrenewable resources, is one of those topics which we need to be continually reminded of. When you look at the facts it’s clear that a little bit of recycling each week isn’t going to cut the mustard – the principle however is there, and it does seem if we all keep the issue of sustainability in our conscious and put in some practical measures both at home and work then it’s not too late to make a difference. The great news is that moving to a more sustainable way of living is good PR and very importantly can also save us money!
When it comes to the visitor economy in Worthing themes of cycling, walking and water sports fit the bill… our key selling point is the opportunity for visitors to Worthing to be able to escape the rat race and get back to nature – foraging under big skies, peddling along an open prom or bobbing around in fresh salt water – outwardly we’re living the sustainable dream!
In-house there’s certainly more that can we as a council can be doing and my job is to ensure that each tourism related project can be tweaked to maximise its sustainability – from exploring paper types for the new visitor guide, to considering how we relay information to visitors; then, longer term moving away from print to online, ideas for sustainable lighting schemes, working with local businesses to promote Green Tourism – the list is endless.
At home I’ve also decided it’s time to up my gain – building works are afoot so now seems a good time to make those little steps. Once I get my garden back (it has been somewhat trashed by bits of scaffolding and cement mixers) I will certainly invest in a decent water butt and a composting bin, grow some more veg, build a log pile (to improve biodiversity). And based on the fact that it takes a massive 15,400 litres of water to make 1kg of beef it sounds like we might need to cut down on the old roast dinners...
What are you doing for sustainability? Let me know...
(Photo: Ponies conservation grazing on Cissbury Ring)
(Photo: Paddle boarding at Worthing beach)
Welcome back to my weekly blog. This week I've been out and about meeting some fresh faces.
Working in an office is fine but for ideas and inspiration you've got to get out of the office and talk to people.
When a colleague mentioned the fresher's fair at Northbrook MET College, I jumped at the chance to get along and spread the word about our Discover Worthing website (which I hope will be useful tool to keep students up to speed with events and provide inspiration for getting out and about locally in their spare time). It also allowed me to find out more about the students and the college itself.
Earlier this year the already ace Northbrook College merged with City College Brighton and Hove to create the even bigger and better Northbrook MET (part of the Greater Brighton Metropolitan College).
Worthing is choc full of language schools and FE Colleges such as Northbrook MET and Worthing College all of which are massively important local asset - students bring energy and creativity to the town, support local amenities and boosting the local economy.
Northbrook's fresher fair was held at the West Durrington campus - a hive of creativity with courses ranging from musical theatre, fine art, and (I'm tempted to give up my job for this one) special effects!
The college is slightly out of town so all the more reason to get along and spread the word about the virtues of Worthing. The day was a great success - chatting to students some of whom have moved to the town from as far afield as Devon, Cornwall and Wigan.
Despite the fact that some of the students seemed rather more interested in the free sweeties than the free DW bookmark (can you believe that ?!) the day was still extremely useful.
I've no doubt our bright new branding really makes difference in these situations and helps us stand out from the crowd.
By the end of the day we achieved a good number of new Instagram and Facebook followers and there was much interest around the Donkey Bikes (particularly the students discount we've arranged), live music and the arts.
In addition to the students we also met:
- a local B&B owner - who I'll pop along and visit next week;
- a Warwick street trader interested in events;
- the tourism lecturers at Northbrook, whose students I've agreed to present to;
- a contact for Albion in the Community;
- and a new West Sussex library contact - to follow up on work already in the pipeline about information provision in the area
All in all, a good days work - useful, thought provoking and fun.
Photo: Judy (right) with students at the fresher's fair at Northbrook MET College
Welcome back to my weekly blog
Weddings, they're big business - what do you think the average cost of a wedding in the UK is?? Answer is at the end, hang in there…
If you add up how many weddings you've been to in your lifetime it's probably a pretty good number. I now, rather worryingly, seem to be entering into a round of second marriages of friends (admittedly my husband's friends are all about 10 years older than me...). Then there's the weddings of their kids!
Luckily I am the perfect wedding guest, always up for a bit of dressing up, guaranteed to cry during the ceremony and always there at the end getting my 'strictly' moves out on the dance floor!
Anyone who's done it will know that organising a wedding can be pretty stressful.
The first challenge and most important decision is finding the right venue.
In a bid to ever out wedding each other people are now continuously looking for increasingly unusual venues to host their special day.
Here in Worthing we can offer a number of pretty quirky but officially licensed venues to hold civil ceremonies and receptions.
How about a wedding at the end of the pier? Well whatever the sea state, whether it's crashing waves or as flat as a millpond, the grade II listed Southern Pavilion is set to impress.
Or what about the Worthing Dome? Set above one of the oldest working cinemas in the UK and again with spectacular views of the sea, it always seems to impress. Handily enough proprietor James's wife is a very talented florist and can transform what is arguably one of the best spaces on the south coast into something even more spectacular for your big day.
If you are looking for something a little more rural we can offer you the beautiful Field Place, a grade II listed Manor house with two Sussex flint and tiled barns or the spectacular Goring Castle, a whole great big stately castle for your pleasure
And then there's our very own Worthing Town Hall which very recently accommodated a bride and groom with an owl, who flew the length of the building carrying the rings to the best man (read the full 'owl wedding' story here...)
How's that for starters?!
Oh and the average cost of wedding in the UK is a staggering £27,000! Cripes!! Better stick with the husband I've got!
Photo: Kelly Horner and James Davies outside Worthing Town Hall with the owl hired to fly in rings
Welcome back to my weekly blog ...
Autumn feels like a time for reflection and although we're yet to receive the visitor stats on summer 2017 from Visit England / Tourism South East I'm hoping they will reflect national figures which cite the growth in popularity of the staycation as a major booster to the domestic tourism market.
An unstable euro, fears of terrorism and the uncertainty around Brexit mean taking a holiday in the UK is growing in popularity.
Certain trends are also fueling the domestic holiday market - one of these trends which is hard to miss is the craze for camping.
Having been the proud parent of a rather rusty VW Camper (Bruno - you've gotta give it a name) which for the past seven years which has taken us on adventures all over Europe including Holland, Croatia, Greece and Turkey (as wells as trips closer to home), I can vouch for the joys of outdoor washing up and alfresco showers.
Surely we're missing a major trick here in Worthing? Family friendly, environmentally friendly, outdoor, active - what's not to like ...?
The second trend - and here we're a head of the game and really need to capitalise on our assets - is the rise in popularity in water sports.
Research shows that in total, over 14.3 million people (27.3% of UK adults) participated in any water-based leisure activities in 2016.
So many people I know live on the coast but won't swim in the sea - crazy!
Yes it's still a little on the chilly side but the water temperature at this time of years is at its highest (a balmy 18°C) and when the sun's out there's really nothing better for both mind and body than a dip and to lie on the warm pebbles to dry off.
Here in Worthing you can now try your hand at pretty much any water sports that take your fancy from stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking, windsurfing and kitesurfing to sea rowing and sailing we've got it all on offer.
On that note … did you know that this weekend Worthing will host its first open swim event - 1.5km and 3km distances - last minute places for the open water swim can be booked on the Discover Worthing. website. Go on take the plunge!
Photo: open water swim
Photo: stand-up paddle boarding - exploring the pier
With the summer holidays drawing to a close it's easy to get that Back to School feeling. But rather than despair, let's embrace the changing of the seasons - autumn in Sussex is one of the most beautiful times of year. To be honest, they're all pretty good, but autumn is particularly good.
Now's the time to dig out your waterproof (just in case) and walking boots. And don't forget a good stack of Tupperware pots - it's foraging central out there, blackberries and sloes are ripe and ready!
Where better to take a good hearty walk (with a spot of foraging thrown in) and views abound than wonderful Cissbury Ring, which forms part of the South Downs National Park owned by the National Trust.
Cissbury Ring stands on the site of an ancient Iron Age hill fort (the largest in Sussex). Although I quite like the folklore version which has it being formed when the devil dug a hole (Devils Dyke) in the South Downs to allow the sea to flood the Sussex Weald and all its churches. Supposedly the clods of earth then fell to the ground forming, amongst others, Cissbury Ring. In any case, with views reaching as far as Beachy Head on one side and the Isle of Wight on the other, it's worth the climb.
Located just 5km from Worthing town centre it's super easy to get to even if you don't have a car - from Worthing town centre hop on the number 1 bus (towards Storrington) or the 23 (to Crawley) or even better (shameless plug) hire yourself a Donkey Bike and peddle up there!
While you walk look out for blackberries (for apple and blackberry crumble, yum) and sloes which can easily be made into Sloe Gin - now this will be the perfect homemade, locally sourced Christmas gift.
How to make Sloe Gin
- 450g / 1lb of sloes
- 225g / 8oz of caster sugar
- 1 litre / 1¾ pint of gin
Prick the tough skin of the sloes all over with a clean needle and put in a large sterilised jar.
Pour in the sugar and the gin, seal tightly and shake well.
Store in a cool, dark cupboard and shake every other day for a week. Then shake once a week for at least two months.
Strain the sloe gin through muslin into a sterilised bottle.
Suggested walking route at Cissbury Ring (National Trust):
- Discovering the history and nature of Cissbury Ring - on the National Trust website
- Rachael's Cissbury Trail Run (or Walk) - on the Discover Worthing website
- About Cissbury Ring - on the Discover Worthing website
- Donkey Bike Hire - on the Discover Worthing website
- The South Downs - on the Discover Worthing website
Photo: Walking on the South Downs
I have to be honest if there is one thing I am less likely to be doing in my spare time it's shopping.
I really am not one for traipsing round department stores or shopping centres; I'd really much rather be out in the great outdoors - swimming, cycling, gardening, walking ... The one thing that does tickle my shopping fancy though is a bit of pre-loved vintage bargain hunting.
Imagine my joy when a week or so after starting this job I ventured off the beaten track and stumbled across the Rowlands Road area of Worthing. This place is a vintage shopper, bargain hunter, retro lover paradise - a real eclectic mix of charity shops, salvage, antique shops and independent arts studios.
For those with similar taste in shopping, never mind the prom, pier, seafront etc - Rowlands Road is a fantastic reason to visit Worthing simply in itself.
First impressions might be that it's not the smartest end of town but as is often the way - think Portobello or Brick Lane Markets in London and as those of us that are that way inclined know - that's where you get the bargains!
You could easily spend a good few hours milling round the shops here: Badger Books, Warehouse 13, Encore Antiques, Reginald Ballum, the Shoreline and West End Galleries to name but a few are all worth a browse. Before you know it you'll be filling your home with vintage finds and retro goodies.
As is always the way with the independents, the great thing is that the shop owners themselves will be there to welcome you and are happy to chat about the local area or any specific goodies you have in mind.
The other good news is Rowlands Road also has its fair share of really great cafes and restaurants so when you're feeling in need of a pick me up you'll be able to find anything from a really good coffee and a homemade chocolate brownie, to a top quality ice cream, to top quality burger or a Mexican Fajita.
So next time you're out in Worthing - don't just hit the popular spots - check out Rowlands Road - happy (salvage) hunting ...!
Photo: Some of the shops in Rowlands Road, Worthing
Photos: inside one of the shops in Rowlands Road
Welcome back to my weekly blog looking at tourism across Worthing.
For those of you who remember the old Visit Worthing website you'll know the new Discover Worthing site represents a major step change.
We've invested a bit of money in new branding and some fantastic new images (thanks to local photographer Ed Watts) but the most significant change has been bringing the whole site production and updates in-house.
The has not only saved the council a significant amount of money (around £7k per year), but the site is now easily maintained and can be kept up to date with events, seasonal blog posts and features.
Discover Worthing has been up and running now for about 10 weeks and whilst I'm really pleased with the ways it's turned out, I'll be the first to admit it's not perfect. Tweaks and amendments continue to go on behind the scenes and I have no doubt will continue to do so forever more.
Obviously, the way the Discover Worthing website looks is key in terms of selling the town but if the site isn't being used then it's about as much use as a chocolate teapot as they say!
Keeping an eye on how the site is being used is vital to ongoing improvement and Google Analytics does that for us - it's a brilliant tool for evaluating the success of the site and the good news is that initial stats are positive and indicate the site is meeting the needs of digital audiences.
Here's a summary of usage so far (with translations where necessary, for those of you not okay with Google speak - I don't blame you, you probably have better things to do ...)
- 35k sessions on the site - the number of times a user is active on our website
- 61% of users are aged 18 to 34
- 54% of users are male (this is interesting as social media usage is predominantly female)
- 48% of all views have been from a mobile phone (as opposed to PC or tablet)
- 21k views on the What's On page - far and above the most popular page views since launch
A good start, I think, and a great platform to build on moving forward ...
Photo: Screenshot of part of the new Discover Worthing website homepage
You've heard all about them - you've seen them dotted around the town (they're bright orange so you can hardly miss them). Yes, we are proud to announce that Donkey Bikes have now officially landed in Worthing.
Joining a star studded line up of cities including Berlin, Barcelona and Copenhagen, Worthing has joined the bike sharing revolution with this 24/7 app based Bike Hire scheme.
already we've smashed through the 100 user mark. If you haven't already taken one of these little beauties for a spin then - what are you waiting for? These bikes are brand new, super comfortable and easy to ride and yours for only £6 for 2 hours.
Even better if you pick up a copy of the Worthing Herald during August (next week) you'll find a discount code for a further 25% of the hire cost.
To unlock and book your bike simply download the Donkey Bike app and turn on your Bluetooth - the bike locations will pop up on the map - the Lido, Pavilion Theatre, Steyne Gardens and Windsor Road Shelter.
Choose how long to want hire the bike for - 2 hours, 4 hours or longer, as you please. Once you've put in your personal and card details, to unlock the bike simply follow instructions and hold your phone to the bike lock and with the wonders of technology - bingo! you're away ...
As locals you'll know how great Worthing is for cycling but if you are stuck for ideas we've put lots of inspiration on the Discover Worthing website, with routes to suit all abilities and appetites - west to the West End Café or east to Shoreham and up to Bramber Castle or onwards to Brighton.
Don't forget the prevailing wind generally blows from west to east but if you run out of steam you can always pop your bike on the train home! Simples!
- Download the Donkey Bike App - from the Discover Worthing website
- Suggested cycle routes - available on our new Discover Worthing website
Welcome back to my blog about life looking after tourism in Adur & Worthing.
One of my main jobs is to make sure that people know what amazing things our area has to offer.
That means reaching out to people in all sorts of ways, whether it's online, through the media, posters at train stations or other forms of advertising.
In last week's blog I looked at the continued importance of more traditional methods of tourism marketing for those groups without internet access.
Whilst this is still an important area of work there is no question that the digital revolution of the last 10 years has transformed the travel industry at every level.
Millennials - those aged between 18 and 34, who are now officially the largest generation in history, have grasped the 'digital bull by the horns' and when it comes to travel and tourism they relish the choice and independence they now have when it comes to making travel decisions.
For destinations like Worthing, joining the digital revolution is crucial to changing perceptions and meeting new audiences head on.
With 97% of millennial travellers posting their travelling experience on social networks, the importance of linking in with the opportunity to inspire and influence is there for the taking.
New for Worthing's visitor economy in 2017 and with an ever growing number of followers is the Discover Worthing Instagram feed.
Instagram has become the go-to platform for visual storytelling and now has a worldwide community of 500 million people.
For Discover Worthing, Instagram offers an opportunity to curate content - images of independent art, outdoor activities and foodie hotspots link with 2017 national travel trends and allow the town to speak for itself.
Encouraging local people to use #DiscoverWorthing enables visitors and residents to tell the story on our behalf.
If you haven't already then do follow us on Instagram and when you're out and about enjoying Worthing life don't forget to spread the word and #discoverworthing.
Follow us at this link - www.instagram.com/discoverworthing/
Image: Discover Worthing Instagram web page
Welcome back to week three of my blog.
In week one of my blog we recognised the changing demographic of Worthing. Invariably as the demographic of the town's residents changes so too does the demographic of its visitors.
While Discover Worthing is embracing new younger audiences the importance of traditional older visitors to the town cannot be underestimated. For these groups and those without access to smart phones and tablets the importance of traditional tools, such as printed leaflets and guides and a good bit of real life customer service, cannot be underestimated.
In an increasingly digital age and with the demise of the traditional Tourist Information Centre, meeting the needs of these groups can be challenging.
But work to improve visitor information provision for these groups both at the planning stage of their visit and in the destination is now underway.
Steps in the right direction include a user survey recently undertaken by the councils' contact centre staff to evaluate calls to the Tourism Golden Number.
Gaining a better understanding of user profiles and types of enquiry will ensure that in future staff can be armed with a toolkit of FAQs, accommodation listings, printable events guides etc. - making life easier for staff and hopefully resulting in happier customers.
Work is also underway to improve Visitor Information Points. These play a vital role in providing information particularly to older visitors.
Making existing facilities more user friendly is key, but with shrinking resources the importance of building relationships with other venues in the town happy to hold visitor information is equally important.
Ensuring entry points such as the station and Stagecoach office are covered and that accommodation providers are armed with Discover Worthing leaflets and guides means visitors can start planning their visit the moment they arrive.
Work has also now started on a new Visitor Guide for Worthing - ensuring this is both inspiring and informative but not so dense as to incur enormous postage costs will be a fine balance.
The Visitor Guide will be the jewel in the crown of our printed toolkit and will be distributed across South East England and beyond. Keep your eyes peeled for the launch for the Discover Worthing Guide this autumn.
Welcome back to week two of my blog.
I thought this week I'd write about an overarching theme of my job as Visitor Experience and Marketing Officer which focuses on changing perceptions of Worthing, in particular promoting the town to new younger audiences.
Replacing the old Visit Worthing branding with Discover Worthing has been a key element of this.
Starting from a blank sheet to create a new logo can feel daunting, but following consultation with local businesses and working closely with the designer, I have to say I'm really pleased with the way the new Discover Worthing branding has turned out - it is everything I wanted it to be: simple, clear, bold, modern.
Prior to the launch of Discover Worthing (DW), Visit Worthing had been the council's visitor branding for many years. The importance of phasing out the old brand and bedding in the new one cannot be underestimated and takes time and commitment.
Building brand awareness (the extent to which a brand is recognised by potential customers, and is correctly associated with a particular product) is key.
Since the official DW launch (alongside the new website at the end of May) I've been working on spreading the word.
Events are a great high profile way to promote a brand and if you made it along to this year's Street Velodrome you'll have seen the DW branding on trackside banners and competitors shirts.
Following discussions with accommodation providers we've also just printed DW bookmarks which will be included in room information packs for guests - a simple low cost idea which points visitors to the Discover Worthing website on arrival. Work is also underway to improve DW signage and branding at the Visitor Information Points.
Do also keep an eye out for DW advertising on platforms up to London.
Again big, bright, bold these display the branding alongside images linked to our summer campaign - family stand up paddle boarding, walking on the South Downs and Kitesurfing all tell a story about Worthing as an outdoor active, family friendly town with fresh air, space, sea and the Downs.
Talking of South Downs - if you haven't been to Cissbury Ring recently put a date in your diary and get up there. It's perfect for a picnic, with far reaching views down to the sea, wild ponies and, if you are into foraging, look out for the tiny but delicious wild raspberries tucked away in hedgerows.
Hi! I'm Judy. I started as Visitor Experience and Marketing officer just under a year ago and have grasped the opportunity to start a fresh with the councils tourism offer. Creating new connections has been key to uncovering a real sense of pride and energy in the town - my role is about harnessing that energy and creating a collective brand identity that shouts “This is Worthing - come and explore” ... and puts us back on the map.
They say variety is the spice of life and when it comes to work I reckon that's definitely true - my role is so diverse but it's the opportunity to be creative and to put new ideas in the practice which is most rewarding.
In May this year we unveiled the new Discover Worthing branding and website.
Last week to keep the ball rolling we launched 'Donkey Bikes' (Thursday, 29th June 2017), the first town on the south coast to get an app based bike hire scheme up and running. The bikes are a joy to ride - bright orange, massive comfy seat - make you feel like Mary Poppins.
So - launch day and nothing like a live radio interview at 7:40am to get your day started - I get a thumbs up from 12 year old daughter Flossie who it turns out has been earwigging at the door. “You did talk rather a lot mummy she says”!
We get some great PR from the launch and particularly chuffed that local business reps turn out to endorse the launch - collaborative working is fundamental to the success of all this work.
Supporting the needs of existing businesses is an equally important element of my job - I spend much of the afternoon chatting to a guest house owner, providing support and advising her of possible ways to bring her marketing in line with current on line trends.
A last minute place in Brighton's 1.5km Swim Round the Pier rounds off the week - don't think I've swum that far since I was about eleven - a shiny medal make it all worth it !
Photo: Tara Page, Emily Wilson and Zara Black recreate 'Wish You Were Here' to help launch Worthing's new bike hire scheme
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