Visit Essex: unveiling the team's journey to LVEP accreditation

In the world of tourism and destination management, few milestones stand as tall as the prestigious Local Visitor Economy Partnership (LVEP) accreditation from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and VisitEngland. Visit Essex accomplished this feat in 2023, joining an elite circle of just 25 other destinations to achieve this distinction.

a screenshot of the visit essex homepage showing variuous destination

We spoke to Lisa Bone, Strategic Tourism Manager at Visit Essex for some enlightenment, inspiration and all the inside info.

How did your team work towards this achievement and in doing so, what were the challenges you overcame? 

Lisa: This was only possible because of team effort. The team is Cheryl Owen, Anna Boon, Hannah Roderick-Holland and Sydney Hollingsworth. 

We were against a very tight deadline as we applied earlier than anticipated. This meant the team worked together to ensure other deadlines were still met and nothing was compromised. Letters of support were needed from a number of external stakeholders including boroughs and districts, and the ease with which we got these is testament to the relationships we have with our many stakeholders and partners.  

Could you highlight some creative approaches or unique strategies the team implemented during this period that set your work apart? 

Lisa: We used local partners to reach wider national audiences, like Primary Times, LocalIQ and Global. It was the first time Primary Times had a destination advertised in a magazine that was not in their own area. In the past we have predominantly targeted destinations within two-hours, but this year we targeted visitors from Liverpool, Yorkshire, and East midlands for staycations and evidence shows that visits from these areas increased.  

Apart from the outstanding LVEP accreditation, what other 2023 projects are the team most proud of? 

Lisa: Secret Essex was an Instagram campaign supported by competitions, blogs, targeted newsletters and working with influencers. The aim was to encourage young professionals/pre-nesters from London to visit Essex as they were an untapped market. As a result, Instagram followers hugely increased, we gained national PR coverage and young professionals are now the largest demographic visiting the Visit Essex website whereas before they were the smallest demographic. This has helped to change perceptions of Essex, highlight quality experiential product and grown the economic value of tourism to Essex. It showcased lots of unknown hidden gems.  

Key learnings from this year? 

Lisa: One - it is so important to work well as a team, understand each other's roles and support where you can. Two - question why we are doing things and what are the objectives, especially if they are things that you have been doing for a long time. Three - storytelling is vital when promoting a place 

What is the team's outlook for next year?

We will be writing a new destination management plan so it will be a great chance for the team and all of our stakeholders to shape what the future visitor economy looks like. 

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