Benny the beluga ensures Gravesend businesses have a whale of a time in 2018
PUBLISHED: 07:00 14 December 2018
PA Wire/PA Images
Benny the beluga arrived in the Thames at Gravesend in September and has become the latest tourist attraction Gravesend has to offer, providing the town's economy with an unexpected boost in the last three months.
Benny was first spotted in Gravesend on Tuesday 25 September, and has been spotted numerous times swimming strongly and feeding normally, enjoying all Gravesend has to offer its visitors.
Crowds have gathered from the river bank to catch a glimpse of Benny who has become Gravesend’s latest celebrity.
And businesses across the town are feeling the benefit from the whale watching tourism market.
Local businesses are selling a range of whale merchandise from Christmas cards, fridge magnets to biscuits and special beer.
Councillor David Turner, Leader of Gravesham Borough Council, said: “Benny has become a firm favourite here in Gravesend.
“We postponed the annual fireworks event to keep Benny safe and everyone has really taken to our campaign to #KeepBennySafe.
“It is fantastic to see so many visitors coming to Gravesend to spot a glimpse of Benny. We’ve had messages from as far away as Australia asking how Benny is.
“And local businesses have really taken Benny to heart, creating Benny themed products. It looks like many households will have a Benny Christmas card this year.”
Sarah Cheshire from Forget Me Not Vintage in the High Street, Gravesend, said: “My friend is an artist and has created a card of Gravesend with Benny in the river. It’s what people want and the cards are selling well.”
The Visitor Information Point at Gravesend Borough Market has a ‘Benny sightings board’ and its updated when people email in their latest sightings to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gravesend has benefited from national media coverage since Benny arrived with every national online and print media covering the Benny story.
In recent weeks the BBC, The Guardian and ITV London have all reported on the Benny tourism boost to Gravesend.