Tourism is currently worth £3.4 billion to the Kent economy and supports more than 64,414 jobs, according to the most recent research into the county’s visitor economy by Visit Kent.
The Cambridge Model, undertaken as part of the European Interreg Two Seas SusTRIP research programme reveals that in 2011, Kent entertained 57 million visitors. And Medway, Canterbury, Swale and Thanet were the top four places to stay for the county’s four million overnight visitors.
The industry standard model shows that within the past five years the number of day visitors has increased by eight per cent, the number of jobs is up nine per cent, and the economic impact has risen by 16 per cent.
Mark Dance, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development at Kent County Council said: “These figures are encouraging not least because they cover the current economic crisis and pressures on personal finance.
“It is a huge tribute to our tourism and visitor businesses that they have not only shown tremendous resilience in continuing difficult times but are meeting the challenges of the marketplace in new and creative ways.”
Sandra Matthews-Marsh, chief executive of Visit Kent, said there was no doubt that investment in major world-class attractions – such as Turner Contemporary in Margate, the Marlowe Theatre and Beaney Museum in Canterbury, the additional features at The Historic Dockyard Chatham and the opening of Cyclopark, near Gravesend – had contributed to the ongoing success of the visitor economy for Kent.
“There are many more projects in the pipeline including boutique hotels, proposals for our coastal resorts, the opening of the amusement heritage park in Margate, and the exciting plans for Paramount Park at Ebbsfleet,” she said.
“As a destination, Kent now faces the challenge of sustaining the increase in the numbers of day visitors enjoying Kent as a result of new attractions, easier travel to and from London with HS1 and our highly focused Kent Contemporary campaign which has specifically targeted the London market.
“But we must also build on our numbers of overnight visitors by ensuring that the range and quality of accommodation provision across Kent – be it self-catering, B&Bs and guest houses or hotels – meet the demands of the 21st century visitor. Our overnight visitor numbers have only increased by two per cent in the past five years, so there is clearly work to be done to match our success in the day visitor market.”