Leading representatives of Kent’s tourism industry gathered to celebrate their success in promoting the county as a visitor destination, contributing £3.4 billion to the local economy, and to pay tribute to outstanding individuals and organisations across the sector.
Friends and supporters of the county’s tourism champions at Visit Kent attended the destination management organisation’s annual garden party, hosted by chairman Amanda Cottrell, at Challock.
Mrs Cottrell presented Visit Kent Chairman’s Award 2013 to: Quex Park, Birchington, represented by Anthony Curwen; Belgian journalist Dirk Muschoot, author of the Dutch book “100 destinations in South East England”; Ruth Brown and Gareth Davies, of Chilston Park Hotel, Lenham; Leonardo Gagliano, of Hilton Hotel, Maidstone; Carole Thomas, of Howletts and Port Lympne Wild Animal Parks; and Bertrand Pettit, chairman, and Diana Hounslow, director, of the Pas de Calais Tourist Board.
She said the county had much to celebrate not least the growing investment the Kent tourism sector continued to make in its destinations and attractions and its people.
“So far this year we have seen the opening of the Hearts of Oak Gallery at The Historic Dockyard Chatham, the Japanese Tea House at Hever Castle, the Porcupine café at Penshurst Place, the walled garden at Riverhill and the launch of the Medway open top bus.
“The accommodation we offer our visitors is continuing to improve from major refurbishments, such as Shepherd Neame’s Marine Hotel, Whitstable, to new boutique hotels including the Sands Hotel in Margate. We now have Medieval Glamping at Leeds Castle and the successful Elephant Lodge at Port Lympne is being extended.
“Add the new flights from Manston to Schiphol, in Amsterdam, and we are even growing our connections the rest of the world.
“The good news keeps coming and now, after a rocky start to the season, even the weather is on our side with many attractions reporting record attendances,” she said.
Mrs Cottrell said that one of the key ingredients to the success of the tourism sector across the county had been the ongoing commitment shown by Kent County Council, Medway Council and district councils to supporting Visit Kent and its business partners.
“We have also enjoyed the most tremendous support from our Kent MPs including the Minister for Tourism, Hugh Robertson, and Dartford’s Gareth Johnson who enabled us to co-host a Kent day at the Houses of Parliament.
“It is right to take time to celebrate our success yet at Visit Kent we, and our industry partners, are also always planning for the future. We are currently busy preparing exciting plans, new ideas and campaigns to grow tourism and the reputation of the Garden of England at home and abroad for the next ten years.
“Meanwhile, next year we will all be marking Kent’s role as England’s frontline county through the three momentous anniversaries including the centenary of the outbreak of World War I, 75 years since the start of World War II, and 70 years since D-Day. And in 2015 our themes will include commemorating the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta and the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.”