Not all the official facts and figures have yet been gathered in, but the tourism champions at Visit Kent are confident that the summer season has been a great success.
Sunny summer days and a warm start to the autumn have seen more people flocking to enjoy days out at the seaside while Kent’s many gardens have been showcasing bloomin’ perfect borders and beds.
The Historic Dockyard Chatham welcomed 13 per cent more visitors during August than for the same month last year.
“It has been a fantastic summer season and much better than anticipated,” said Gail James, communications manager. “We had superb weather and a great temporary exhibition – Exploring Antartica.”
Mulberry Cottages, based in Canterbury, saw a 40 per cent increase in bookings during the summer at its wide range of high quality self-catering cottages across the county and a record number of bookings for August – crowned by 100 per cent occupancy over the August Bank Holiday weekend.
Even by the end of July the number of visitors to Kent attractions overall this year were up 6.4 per cent on last year. And during June the county’s popular gardens saw a 26.3 per cent in visitors numbers compared with the same month in 2012. The upward trend continued as the sun shone on.
William Dyson, curator of Great Comp garden, near Sevenoaks, said: “Our weekend garden show in August entertained 1,800 visitors – our best figures since 2008.
“The weather this year helped us with visitor numbers and with the garden. We have a drought-tolerant garden so the borders have been looking particularly good.”
“It has been a tremendous summer.
“Our official figures to the end of June revealed a really good start to the season and more than 60 per cent of our attractions were confident they would perform better than last year during the next three months.
“Their confidence seems to have been very well placed. We had bumper special events bringing people from mainland Europe and the UK including the War and Peace Revival at Westernhanger for the first time. There were full programmes of great entertainment and special events at our showcase castles and historic houses such as Dover, Hever, Leeds, Quex and Penshurst Place.
“Meanwhile, Turner Contemporary welcomed its one millionth visitor and the fine eateries and many independent shops in Margate old town proved a great hit with art and beach lovers alike.
“It has been a superb long summer for watersports enthusiasts as well as for everyone seeking to enjoy the flavour of the seaside from Kent-made ice creams to the fine seafoods and celebrations in our many coastal gems such as Whitstable and Herne Bay.
“It has also been perfect weather for enjoying all Kent’s great walking and cycling routes which continue to grow in popularity year on year.
“Even more importantly our work with the travel trade in mainland Europe has really paid dividends with the accommodation available at the University of Kent proving very popular with overseas groups visiting the county as well as parties attending special events.”