Visitors to Cornwall will be accustomed to The Eden Project – the iconic attraction that attracts 22 million visitors annually and generates £25million in annual revenue.

Now, local tourism and hospitality business leaders are backing a bid to bring the Eden Project to Eastbourne. Appropriately, on Earth Day (22nd April), East Sussex College students have been challenged to be involved in the project.

The college’s involvement in the project comes from Joanne Rogers, a place marketing expert and Managing Director of Prowse & Co. Ltd., who is also Vice Chair of the East Sussex College Group. Along with Kristian Hayter, Chair of the Eastbourne Hospitality Association (EHA), Joanne approached the college to seek ten students interested in a career in marketing or tourism to work with them on the investment project.

The students will develop a marketing campaign to tell local people about the potential project and discover how receptive they are in having an Eden Project locally. They will also work closely with Kristian and Joanne to give young people a voice – not only about the project, but on climate change issues and the opportunities they would like to see arising from a greener local economy.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for our students to get involved with something that impacts the local community,” said Rebecca Conroy, Principal and CEO of East Sussex College. “Industry placements have been limited due to COVID, so for 10 students to be given the opportunity to work with the EHA and a leading company like Prowse is fantastic. This project also links closely with our wider sustainability strategy as a college. The opportunity to get behind the bid to bring a well-known environmental attraction to Eastbourne is an exciting prospect for our students.”

“This potential inward investment project would be a catalyst for eco-tourism, green jobs, skills training and innovation across East Sussex. Who better to be involved and gain real life work experience than the young people who will benefit from its legacy,” says Joanne.

The picturesque seaside town of Eastbourne certainly seems a fitting place for an Eden Project of its own. Sir Tim Smit, Executive Chairman for Eden Project International and co-founder of the Eden Project in Cornwall, said, “Eastbourne is a stage on which British life in all its richness has played out for 5,000 years. Here in Eastbourne, we can make something irresistible, that speaks to the power of the land and the fire of the human spirit needing to mark that it was right here, right now and it is showing vital signs of life.”

Tourism underpins Eastbourne’s economy, contributing over £500 million of value and generates more than 30% of jobs in the town, so it’s no surprise to have the Eastbourne Hospitality Association behind the bid. Kristian says, “Eden brings the potential for transforming a large area of under-utilised land into a valuable asset for Eastbourne, East Sussex and the South Downs National Park. An ‘Eastbourne Park’ could become a year-round destination for local, national and international visitors and enhance the attractiveness of Eastbourne as a tourism location. This would be hugely beneficial for tourism and hospitality businesses in Eastbourne and create jobs for local people as we recover from the pandemic.”

The 10 college students begin working on the project this Earth Day.