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Kent tourism figures show sharp rise as crowds flock to the county over summer months

PUBLISHED: 13:10 13 September 2016

Viking Bay. Picture: Visit Kent

Viking Bay. Picture: Visit Kent

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Figures from Visit Kent reveal visits up nearly 20 per cent

The county’s tourism industry looks to have cashed in this summer with preliminary figures suggesting a big rise in visitor numbers.

After a slow start to the good weather, figures from the county’s tourism champions Visit Kent’s monthly business barometer show a very positive picture for numerous tourism attractions across the county, with visits up 18.8 per cent in July alone - the biggest increase year on year increase since 2013.

Visit Kent says data for August is still being confirmed, but early indications show a similar picture with several attractions reporting a rise in visitor numbers. And with another heatwave predicted in the next few days, September could be another a hot month for tourism businesses.

Visit Kent CEO Sandra Matthews-Marsh said: “We are thrilled that the hard work of our partners appears to have paid off this summer.

“The UK has been up against some pretty tough circumstances this year – the shock of Brexit, awful terror incidents in Europe, and some initial poor weather. But Kent’s tourism industry is nothing if not resilient, and local tourism businesses have been working tirelessly to increase their marketing campaigns and heighten their already warm welcome to new UK and international visitors.

“This paid off with the arrival of the great weather in July and August, which looks set to continue into September, with coastal areas doing particularly well.”

Visit Kent’s business barometer is compiled every month, based on feedback from tourism businesses, to gives a regular ‘snapshot’ of how the industry is performing.

The most recent data shows that attraction numbers were up 18.8 per cent in July (compared to July 2015), with the good weather and increased marketing activity credited as major factors in the increased visits.

Amongst the attractions already indicating positive August figures are Dreamland Margate - despite its main attraction the Scenic Railway rollercoaster being out of action for much of the peak season, Penshurst Place, Rochester Castle, Sissinghurst Castle and Gardens, and Port Lympne Reserve and Howletts Wild Animal Park.

However some figures have dipped - although more a sign of our changing search for information.

Mrs Matthews-Marsh added: “We have seen a slight decline in visits to some of the county’s visitor information centres (VICs), but this only a fraction of the total number of people visiting the county each month. Even so, just under 100,000 people use Kent’s VICs every year, showing an ongoing interest and desire in their services.

“That said, the overall trend for visitors to seek their information increasingly from online sources and social media, both in advance and during their visit, this could account in part for the small decline in visits to VICs.”

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