Tourism bosses have hit back after East Sussex failed to feature in the top 20 in a list of the UK’s top hospitality destinations.
The list, compiled by the AA and Visit England and based on restaurant, hotel, B&B and campsite ratings, claims Berkshire is the top county to stay in, with attractions such as Legoland, Windsor and Ascot.
Neighbouring West Sussex makes the grade, at number seven on the list.
But councillor Kim Forward, deputy leader and lead member for tourism at Hastings Borough Council, said: “While Hastings may not have featured in the top 20, our visitors tell us they love Hastings and 1066 Country. In a survey last year, an incredible 98 per cent of off-peak visitors and 98 per cent of peak period visitors to the area said that their overall enjoyment was high or very high.”
Howard Martin, vice-president of Bexhill Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, said: “East Sussex is one of the best kept secrets on the tourist map. We quietly and effectively go about our business of attracting millions of visitors to our fantastic region every year without feeling the need to shout about it. Very often these surveys are conducted on a commercial basis and are actually meaningless other than to indicate which areas spend most on their marketing. East Sussex and, in particular 1066 Country, don’t need to play those games because our visitors come for something beyond what others offer. We are distinctly unique and very different.”
An East Sussex County Council spokesman said: “With more than 23 million visitors a year, East Sussex is a major tourism destination and 92 per cent of visitors rate the overall enjoyment of their trip to the county as ‘very high’ or ‘high’. We have a rich and diverse choice of visitor accommodation, from country house hotels to family-run guest houses, youth hostels and ‘glamping’ destinations such as treehouses and shepherd’s huts.
“We encourage tourism businesses to focus on websites which feature user-generated ratings posted in real time, as our research suggests these are the ratings visitors trust most.
“The fact the number of visitors to East Sussex increased by 28 per cent between 2005 and 2015 is testament to the fact the county is an increasingly attractive place to visitors from the UK and overseas.”
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