visit-kentHow can we encourage the visitors on our doorstep to holiday closer to home? That is the big question tourism businesses and organisations from both sides of the Channel will address at a major conference on April 3 at the Ashford International Hotel.

Why Travel Further? is the first event of its kind to bring together tourism champions from Kent, Norfolk, Suffolk, Pas de Calais, Flanders and The Netherlands to share their in-depth industry insights and research.

Delegates will also hear from, and be able to question, keynote speakers from organisations and businesses with proven international expertise including VisitBritain and TripAdvisor as well as – which delivers the Our Land programme encouraging UK visitors to stay in national parks and protected landscapes on their doorstep.

Visit Kent, in partnership with Kent County Council, is hosting the conference, which aims to provide delegates with a wealth of information alongside lots of practical hints and tips on how to attract more visitors from nearby markets.

It is free to attend but as places are limited to 200 registration of interest must be made by March 13 via

Why Travel Further? is supported by 2 Seas Interreg funding following Visit Kent’s successful delivery of four European cross-border research projects – the Sustainable Tourism Research and Intelligence Partnership (SusTrip), Greet The World, Coastal Actions for Sustainable Tourism (CAST) and Balance.

The conference will include presentations of the research findings from the project partners – with simultaneous French and Dutch translations – as well as extensive networking opportunities.

Discussions from the conference will also feed into forthcoming Why Travel Further? publications to help businesses and volunteer visitor Greeter networks understand the many visitor economy opportunities in their near markets.

Sandra Matthews-Marsh, chief executive at Visit Kent, said: “Innovative and creative partnerships between different businesses and organisations have enabled our county to punch well above its weight time and time again in a very competitive market.

Mark-Dance“This is a major opportunity for tourism people on both sides of the Channel, facing similar challenges, to share their knowledge and to come together in highly beneficial, strong cross-border partnerships to drive their visitor economies forward and in new directions. It marks the start of very exciting initiatives which have huge potential to grow and grow.”

Kate Shepherd, director of Our Land, said: “Through our unique collaboration between UK protected landscapes, tourism businesses, visitors and we have learned a great deal that we are now able to share with our European partners thanks to this conference.”

Mark Dance, Kent County Council cabinet member for economic development, who will open the cross-Channel conference, said: “The depth of research undertaken and now being shared by the European partners will ensure that cross-Channel tourism initiatives and partnerships developing out of this conference will be built on solid foundations.

“Tourism plays an important and increasing role in driving economic development in Kent and all the partner regions. Working together will help us all achieve even more for the benefit of our businesses, our local communities and, of course, our visitors.”


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