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Pandemic impact on Kent tourism industry revealed

By Stephen Emerson
26 January 2022

The economic impact of COVID-19 on Kent's tourism industry has been laid bare in a new report.

Visit Kent’s latest Economic Impact Model for 2020 shows that £7 million was spent on average in the local economy each month in 2020, as a direct result of the region’s tourism and hospitality industry (compared to £20 million on average in 2019).

The study also shows visitor numbers dropped by 45.1% overall compared to 2019.

The number of tourism jobs across the district showed a decrease of 43.7% between 2019 and 2020, to 3,419, accounting for 11% of total employment in Dover, Deal and Sandwich last year.

Kent’s tourism and hospitality sector was worth £4.1 billion to the local economy before the pandemic.

Councillor Trevor Bartlett, Leader of Dover District Council said: “We do understand how difficult the pandemic has been for everyone. However, as we get ready for the year ahead, we’re preparing to build on the successes of the district, and working with our partners to welcome visitors back to enjoy all that the district has to offer.

“We were delighted to welcome The Open back to Sandwich in 2021, to attend key travel trade exhibitions, including the World Travel Market, and to celebrate news that White Cliffs Country received international acclaim as Kent’s Heritage Coast was 4th on a list of the world’s best regions to visit in the Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2022.

“We continue to work with all our partners for the visitor economy, including distributing financial support. We’re looking forward to the year ahead, with the cruise market returning, the development of our new Experience project, new interactive maps for food and drink, and a whole range of exciting events set for 2022.”

The release of the county’s latest Economic Impact findings coincides with Kent’s recent recognition by global travel authority Lonely Planet, who have named ‘Kent’s Heritage Coast’ as number four on a list of the world’s best regions to visit in 2022.

Visit Kent Chief Executive, Deirdre Wells, said:: “Our partners in White Cliffs Country, and across the county, have been working extremely hard over the last 18 months to welcome visitors back safely and to continue providing a first-class experience, with many proudly displaying VisitBritain's We're Good to Go kitemark as a way of reassuring customers and staff that processes are in place to welcome them back with confidence.

“We are hugely honoured to see ‘Kent’s Heritage Coast’ cited as one of Lonely Planet’s best travel destinations for this year. This award coincides with Visit Kent’s 20th anniversary and marks the biggest year to date in terms of the long-term recovery of our region’s tourism and hospitality sector. Accolades such as Lonely Planet’s ‘Best in Travel’ are exceptionally important for reminding visitors of exactly what makes our corner of the world so special. Thanks to incredible collaborations county-wide, we’re confident that we can build a vibrant, sustainable, and resilient industry for the future, together.”