GAMES TIME WOW FACTOR SETS STAGE FOR KENT’S OLYMPIC LEGACY

Mike Hill Amanda CottrellKent’s preparation and participation in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games wowed county visitors and residents alike, according to research by Visit Kent.

A survey undertaken by the tourism champions this summer reveals that the Games and Games-related events, such as the Torch Relay celebrations, increased 88 per cent of people’s pride in their county and 79 per cent of people’s sense of community.

Seventy-six per cent of people aware of the special Look and Dressing of the county – which included flags, banners and posters at key destinations and transport centres and a bright pink Olympic ribbon on the exterior of Margate’s iconic Turner Contemporary – said it made Kent feel part of the Games and 66 per cent described the dressing as excellent or good.

Plus local residents and visitors who met one of the county’s volunteer army of Games Time Kent Greeters at rail stations, coach parks and ports during the Games, such as Ashford, Canterbury, Dover, Ebbsfleet, Gravesham, Maidstone, Sevenoaks and Tonbridge, were very impressed. Ninety-three per cent of the survey’s respondents said the Greeters made them feel welcome and 86 per cent said they were helpful in answering their questions.

Eight per cent of visitors to Kent this summer were here primarily to attend Games’ related events – either in London, the Paralympic Road Cycling at Brands Hatch, or locally organised activities including the Torch Relay.

And Games visitors generally contributed more to the local economy than non-Games visitors. The survey, conducted by Qa Research on behalf of Visit Kent, revealed that the average Games visitor spent £70 per day during their trip while non-Games visitors spent an average £60 per day.

Sandra Matthews-Marsh, chief executive at Visit Kent, said: “2012 has been a golden opportunity for Kent to showcase its warm welcome and its quality tourism experience and we have delivered beyond our expectations.

“We have succeeded in delighting our residents and our Games Time visitors and we are still seeing our county promoted across the world by VisitBritain. During the Games we were able to reach millions of people across London with our Kent Contemporary campaign as well as visitors taking advantage of our ports and our rail links to reach London and beyond.

“We always knew that excellent delivery to new visitors and audiences during 2012 would be key in building our Olympic legacy for the coming years. We are now looking forward to 2013 and beyond when we will be welcoming back our traditional visitors alongside new visitors – those inspired by our campaigns and this year’s Games visitors returning with their friends and relatives keen to spend more time exploring our county.”

Mike Hill, Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Customer and Communities, said: “This research really demonstrates how much Kent can achieve when we all work together across and within our communities.

“Tourism delivers £3.2 billion to the Kent economy and supports 63,000 jobs. And we have all made an excellent start to delivering the Olympic legacy, which could be worth a further £324 million.

“Maintaining and expanding the high quality of our tourism, leisure and hospitality businesses and the warm welcome we offer our guests is essential for growing our visitor economy.

“Yet this sector and its many businesses make an essential contribution to our quality of life in Kent and our communities.  In recent years we have all rallied around the hosting of tremendous sporting events in Kent ranging from the Tour de France and the Open Golf in Sandwich to the Olympics and our role as a Paralympics host county.

“This year alone we have also all joined together to celebrate the Dickens Bicentenary and, of course, the Diamond Jubilee. Like the Games, marking these events has brought local people and communities together. That spirit and enthusiasm is what will deliver a truly lasting legacy for the people of Kent.”

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