Visit Kent has reported that Kent’s visitor economy has increased 7% and topped £3.8 billion for the first time ever, after welcoming a record 65 million visitors in 2017.
Canterbury had the highest number of trips (7.8 million) and the highest visitor spend (£392 million) in the county. Canterbury’s tourism employment now accounts for 16% of the district’s total employment.
The value of day trips to Canterbury leapt up 10.6 per cent, while the value of overnight stays across the district also saw a good rise of 1.9 per cent. And the total number of jobs supported by tourism grew by 7.9 per cent, with the industry accounting for 16 per cent of total employment in the Canterbury district. The value of Canterbury district’s visitor economy grew by 8.1 per cent in 2017 and is now worth £491 million.
Canterbury’s strong performance reflects the countywide picture, where despite 2017’s wet summer, Kent welcomed 65 million visitors.
Across the county, visitor spending figures in Kent continue to rise compared to 2015, with the highest ever numbers reported for spending in the county from both day and overnight visits. Tourism jobs have also increased by 6.8% to 76,828, and now account for 11% of total employment across the county. Overseas overnight visits to the county increased by 4% with an 8% increase in the number of nights stayed, and a 10% increase in the resulting value.
Chief Executive of Canterbury BID, Lisa Carlson, said: “The business and organisations of Canterbury contribute so much to making Canterbury a vibrant and exciting place. Together we have all given our visitors plenty of reasons to come to our fantastic city, and going forward, with our new Destination Management Plan, we will continue to put Canterbury on the map.”
Chairman of Canterbury City Council’s Regeneration and Property Committee, Cllr Ben Fitter-Harding, said: “These are fantastic figures and show the continuing appeal of our wonderful city, towns and villages. And no wonder – we have great attractions, eateries, beaches, independent shops and countryside for people to explore.
“The value of the visitor economy, at almost half a billion pounds, and the level of employment it supports, is quite astonishing and shows the importance of tourism to the district.
“We’d like to say thank you to all those people who work so hard to ensure visitors to the area get a great experience and spend their money right here.”
Chief Executive of Visit Kent, Deirdre Wells OBE, said: “Tourism is the UK’s fastest growing service sector and these figures demonstrate the contribution which our vital industry makes to the economy of Kent. With our stunning countryside, world-class heritage, and delicious locally sourced food and drink, it is no surprise that visitor numbers are increasing in districts like Canterbury year on year.
“The collective efforts of tourism businesses across the county have paid dividends and this partnership will be critical in ensuring that this growth continues during a challenging year ahead.”
(report issued by Visit Kent – 09.01.2019)