TOURISM chiefs are determined to help Eastbourne shed its blue rinse reputation as part of an in-depth study into the habits of out-of-towners visiting the resort.
For decades Eastbourne has been synonymous with pensioners, coach trip holidays and SAGA-style stop-overs.
Now though, decision-makers at the borough council want to lead a shift away from the grey pound.
A report published this week by Tracey McNulty, the council’s chief tourism officer, outlined the importance of splashing £30,000 of tax payers’ cash on an outside consultancy firm to carry out the research.
In it, Ms McNulty wrote, “In Eastbourne we have the further hindrance of an unfair reputation as being a resort populated by an older age-group, when in fact we are home to more young people that any other borough in the county.
“Challenging this reputation through making informed judgements of how to develop and promote the town to diverse markets – including younger families – as a place to live and work as well as holiday, relies on us understanding how we are perceived.”
According to estimates, around 4.8 million people visited Eastbourne last year – placing the resort smack bang in the Premier League of seaside towns.
It was also named as the second fastest growing resort in the UK last year.
Although large-scale events like Airbourne, the International Tennis Tournament and the many conferences held in the town will always attract sizeable crowds, the council wants to have a clear picture of exactly who it is who is coming to the area and what more can be done to add more people to their number.
Eastbourne Borough Council’s lead member for tourism, Cllr Neil Stanley, said “We are very excited to press forward with plans for a significant piece of research, which will really help us to understand our visitor profile and identify areas, which we can improve and build upon, to continue to attract new audiences to Eastbourne.
“The destination has so much to offer already but it is crucial to understand our visitors’ needs so that we can make well informed choices.”