Kent hosts showcase for international operators

Visit Kent and UKinbound jointly hosted 19 representatives from international tour operators at a two-day trade event last week.

Based in the historic Commissioner’s House at the Historic Dockyard Chatham, the ‘Discover Kent’ event showcased destinations, attractions and accommodation providers in Kent, in order to encourage more international visitors.

There were one-to-one appointments between 17 Kent tourism businesses and tour operators from Scandinavia, the US, Germany, Italy and the Far East.

Also, there were familiarisation trips to local destinations and attractions, including Quex Park, the Battle of Britain Memorial, Copper Rivet Distillery and the National Trust’s Ightham Mote.

The operators had free return train travel courtesy of Southeastern.

Presentations were made by Antony Amos, UKinbound’s head of business development; Visit Kent’s travel trade manager Alanna Kite; and Richard Nicholls, VisitBritain’s head of research.

The event was part of Visit Kent’s trade strategy to target the domestic and international travel industry to increase visitors to the county.

The strategy includes exhibitions, workshops, fam trips and building relationships with key buyers.

Deirdre Wells, UKinbound chief executive, said: “We were delighted to bring so many of our tour operator members to the Discover Kent event. Last year, an estimated 39 million visitors came to the UK, spending an estimated £25 billion.

“With its proximity to London, great transport links and more castles and gardens than any other county in the UK, Kent is in a fantastic position to attract international visitors.”

Sandra Matthews-Marsh, Visit Kent chief executive, added: “We have been able to showcase everything the Garden of England has to offer to key international tour operators and buyers, and this is a very valuable opportunity.

“While our county’s beauty and rich heritage speaks for itself, it is the strength of our county’s tourism businesses and our progressive partnership approach to supporting the trade and Kent’s economy that makes us stand out as the number one destination outside of London.

“We hope that this event has been an invaluable resource for both our businesses and the travel trade and look forward to welcoming more visitors into the county as a result.”

Kent welcomes 60 million visitors annually, and its tourism industry is estimated to be worth £3.6 billion a year.