The Economic Development Team at Horsham District Council needed a comprehensive Visitor Economy Strategy (Destination Management Plan) to attract new visitors to the Horsham District and encourage longer dwell time and increased visitor spend. The project needed to build on the rich heritage and culture of Horsham District to create a brand that engaged with visitors and the local community to create a marketing identity. It also needed to develop a local Visitor Economy Partnership (Destination Management Organisation) to oversee the delivery of the Strategy.
Acorn Tourism, with our place making associates Thinkingplace, worked closely with the Horsham Rural Towns Forum as well as the Horsham District Council Officers, Parish Councils, South Downs National Park and visitor economy businesses across the District to develop a Visitor Economy Strategy that focused on the five market towns of Billingshurst, Pulborough, Storrington, Steyning and Henfield as well as Horsham town.
To understand the current visitor economy of Horsham District and the aspirations of its local communities and businesses, we undertook a Destination Audit, a Market Demand Analysis and conducted five Parish Council meetings, three wider stakeholder workshops, 20 one-to-one consultations and two online surveys, one of residents and one of businesses.
The findings from this extensive engagement process were analysed to inform three clearly defined strategic themes. These themes underpinned the development of the Horsham Story narrative, the brand identity visuals as well as the Visitor Economy Strategy/ Destination Management Plan (DMP) and the Marketing Action Plan.
Alongside the development of the DMP, Acorn Tourism assessed the governance options for the Destination Management Organisation (DMO), providing best practice case studies and a Terms of Reference for the public-private organisation. We set up the first DMO meeting where the DMP was officially signed off, brand guidelines issued and the Destination Marketing Plan reviewed before an official launch to invited media and the wider tourism sector.