Visit Kent targets further five million visitors

Visit Kent has unveiled plans to attract a further five million visitors to the county by 2021.

Jonathan Neame, Visit Kent chairman, outlined the destination management organisation’s vision for the next five years to a gathering of key investors and partners in Canterbury.

A record 60.6 million visitors came to Kent in 2015, and the visitor economy has grown 49% in the last 10 years under Visit Kent and its public and private sector partners’ governance.

Neame said: “Kent’s visitor economy is in a strong position, having grown significantly and steadily over the last decade, welcoming more people, supporting more jobs and bringing more money to the county than ever before.

“However, we are not complacent. With the support of our public and private sector partners and leading stakeholders, including Kent County Council, we have great ambitions for the future of Kent’s visitor economy.

“We aim to bring an additional five million visitors to Kent in the next five years, and create an additional 5,000 jobs for the county.”

The 8% rise in numbers is expected to generate more than £300 million for the Kent visitor economy, creating more than 5,000 new jobs.

Kent’s visitor economy topped £3.6 billion for the first time in 2015, welcoming a record number of domestic and overseas visitors and supporting 72,000 jobs.

The county remains the third most visited destination outside London for foreign visitors.

Sandra Matthews-Marsh, chief executive of Visit Kent (pictured with Neame), added: “We set ourselves ambitious targets from the day we started to grow the visitor economy, with more day trips and short breaks, and have seen consistent economic growth ever since.

“This is thanks to billions of pounds of investment by the public and private sector in to Kent’s tourism infrastructure to ensure a world-class visitor offer, and the unceasing commitment of our partners to work together on a single vision and strategy for tourism.

“This is a long-term strategy that will benefit the entire county.”