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Visitor Summit Notes

Business Conference

The experts shared how they are handling the pandemic

The Minister for Tourism, Nigel Huddleston MP,  introduced our summit and confirmed that he will support us in promoting Sussex.  This was followed by an introduction to Sussex Modern and details of the free business support available to help us all to recover from the pandemic.  (Details below.)
The expert panel was highly illuminating with Alex Polizzi, Channel 5's Hotel Inspector and owner of The Polizzi Collection, Mark Driver of Rathfinny Wine Estate,  Nathaniel Hepburn of the Charleston Trust, Nick White of Bistrot Pierre UK and Andrew Younger, Director of one of the largest hospitality groups in the UK,  the Stonegate Pub Company.  
The panellists discussed the challenges they are each facing and the actions they have taken to protect their businesses​.  While it became clear that we are all in this together, we learnt that they are very positive about the future.  The pandemic has forced many businesses to become leaner and fitter which will help us all to Survive, Revive and Thrive.

Top Tips

  • "Spend as much money as you can afford on your IT and digital communications"
  • "Include a Health and Wellbeing message in all communications"
  • "Don't procrastinate when making tough decisions but do take advice beforehand"
  • "Work together with your competitiors and with other sectors"
  • "Collaboration is the key to success"

Over 160 people attended the summit which was hosted online by ACES, the Alliance of Chambers in East Sussex, and was supported by East Sussex County Council, Your Eastbourne BID, the Eastbourne Hospitality Association, Prowse PR and Marketing, Eastbourne Borough Council and the Sussex MPs Caroline Ansell, Sally-Ann Hart and Huw Merriman.  Unfortunately Nus Ghani was not able to join us.  

You can watch the conference here.


The meeting was fast paced and to the point and will be repeated in the new year to go through actions taken as a result of the summit.  It included:  

Dedicated support for your business ​-
​free of charge

​Business support programmes are available to help you to find your way through the pandemic with the assistance of your own dedicated business mentor - free of charge.

If you are based in Lewes, Eastbourne or Wealden visit Edeal Enterprise Agency
For Rother or Hastings visit the Let's Do Business Group
For Grant Funding up to £150,000 visit Let's Do Business Finance
For a grant of between £2,000 and £170,000 visit Invest4 Grant Funding


Click here to read our speakers full biographies.

  • Nigel Huddleston
    is a businessman and politician who was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport with responsibility for Sport, Tourism and Heritage in February this year.
  • ​​Alex Polizzi is a family member of the Forte hotel dynasty, an entrepreneur and a well known TV personality.  She has helped many businesses discover better ways of working and will share her ideas for promoting your business and this beautiful part of the country. ​
  • Nick White is the CEO / investor of the successful Bistrot Pierre UK restaurant group.   ​​​
  • Mark Driver owns the Rathfinny Wine Estate with his wife Sarah.  Having worked in the city as a hedge fund manager the couple decided to follow their dreams and developed the largest vineyard in the UK.  ​​
  • Nathaniel Hepburn is CEO of the Charleston Trust.  Based at the Charleston farmhouse nestling in the leeward side of the downs near Firle, the farm was the home of the 'Bloomsbury Set', pioneers of early 20th century British art.
  • Andrew Younger is the Divisional Director for Stonegate’s leased and tenanted arm covering London and the South East of England. He has responsibility for c 600 pubs and has been with Ei Group /Stonegate since 2013.

We were also joined by local Sussex MPs: Caroline Ansell, Eastbourne and Willingdon; Huw Merriman, Battle and Bexhill; and Sally-Ann Hart, Hastings and Rye.

Summary and Next Steps


​​​Rupert Clubb, Director of Communities, Transport and Economic Development at East Sussex County Council summed up the Summit and gave ideas for our
next steps.
​If you have suggestions to improve the economy of the County or would like to attend the next visitor summit in 2021 email us here.

"Sussex is a well kept secret..... it's time we told the world about it!"​