By Scott Thomas, Southern Delaware Tourism

Why promote tourism to Sussex County? Because, as we like to say at Southern Delaware Tourism (SDT), “Everything Starts with a Visit.”  

Greater investment in marketing Sussex County as a year-round destination leads to more visitors which leads to more incoming residential and business relocation. Sussex County’s coastal Mid-Atlantic location is within a 4-hour drive of close to 30 percent of the U.S. population. This has always been an advantage and will continue to be an even larger advantage as more individuals seek to escape and ultimately move from densely populated urban and suburban areas with the advent of more opportunities to work remotely as a result of pandemic retooling. 

If you have the opportunity to work from any location, why wouldn’t you choose a place like Sussex County where taxes are low and (quality of) living is high? 

Just as important as the destination marketing investment, is investment in the visitor experience here in Sussex. As always, infrastructure reigns supreme, from moving people to moving high-speed data. Creating new, unique experiences that capture the sheer beauty of our county will lead to more business, more jobs and more reinvestment. 

One area (but certainly not the only one) that’s gaining steam throughout the county is waterfront development. Projects such as the (soon-to-be-completed) Grove Park Dock in Rehoboth Beach and the Baywalk in Dewey Beach better connect our beach towns via the scenic intercoastal waterways of our canals, inland bays and rivers. Along with providing more safe recreational outlets, this will lead to more alternative public water transportation, increasing pedestrian business in our downtowns while reducing vehicular traffic and parking needs.  

Other examples include the evolving Oyster House Park project in Seaford that will highlight the beauty of the Nanticoke River, Laurel’s Ramble plan to optimize all the natural assets of the Broad Creek and Milford’s vision of extending its Riverwalk to include more attractions.

Sussex County also has a distinct advantage of being home to a plethora of farms and restaurants. This farm-to-table evolution of rock star chefs and farmers has raised the bar for food experiences here – so much so that Southern Delaware is developing a reputation as “The Culinary Coast,” a term trademarked by our office. Being a premier culinary destination not only attracts more visitors, but will set the stage for more training opportunities in the culinary and hospitality fields and cultivate more talent here. 

Additionally, tourism benefits all Sussex County families in many ways, and not just financially, although tourism saves each of our households nearly $1,600 annually in taxes. As Mariah Calagione so eloquently stated in her keynote at SDT’s 2019 Tourism Awards Luncheon, “Most of you probably have a connection to a community initiative. You partner with them, volunteer with them, or attend and  enjoy them. If you do, you are also likely aware that many these community-based organizations benefit from our visitors. Those same theaters, events, festivals and museums that we get to enjoy as local residents are dependent on the traffic and support of our out-of-town visitors. As tourism here in Southern Delaware has increased over the years, so have our community offerings. Our communities have a symbiotic relationship with our tourism industry, and it’s a win-win situation.”