Visit Kent kicked off a year of celebrations marking its 10th anniversary with the cutting of a celebratory cake at last week’s Kent 2020 Live.
The public/private partnership was launched in 2002 to promote the county as a tourism destination.
“In the last 10 years, the face of tourism in Kent has changed beyond all recognition,” said Sandra Matthews-Marsh, Chief Executive of Visit Kent.
“Our historic buildings, such as Leeds and Dover Castles and the Cathedrals at Canterbury and Rochester, are enduring, but today you can look around the county and add to them modern, world class tourist attractions such as the Turner Contemporary at Margate and the No1 Smithery at the Historic Dockyard, Chatham.
“Their development has been mirrored by a growth in boutique hotels and local restaurants using local produce.
“The last 10 years has also seen a massive improvement in transport links to the county, including High Speed 1, making it easier for people to reach us, leading to an increase in visitors. This saw tourism’s economic impact on the local economy rise by 33 per cent between 2003 and 2009.”
Visit Kent has built a reputation for innovation in the past decade with events such as the hugely popular My Kent Big Weekend now being studied by other visitor destinations around the country.
“Visit Kent has been an enormous success in the 10 years it has been in existence,” said Alex King, Deputy Leader of Kent County Council. “The drive and vision shown by all of the team have seen tourism make an increasingly important contribution to the county’s economy.
“It is a sign of their value that other regional tourism bodies are turning to ideas originating from Visit Kent to boost the sector in their own areas.
“Visit Kent inspired events such as My Kent Big Weekend and campaigns such as the Kent Contemporary series of advertisements have helped raise the profile of Kent’s attractions, both man-made and natural, and position the county as one of the leading destinations in the UK.
“Kent can be proud of its tourism industry, which only looks set to grow and prosper thanks to the continued efforts of Visit Kent.”
Sandra Matthews-Marsh concluded: “We are proud of the work we have done and the progress we have made in the last 10 years, and are delighted that our anniversary falls in such an exciting year, with the Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics offering a wealth of opportunities for tourism businesses in the county to benefit.
“We intend to mark this important year in our history with a number of events to thank those who have supported us since our launch, and who we know will continue to support us in the future.”
Photo: Alex King, Deputy Leader of Kent County Council; Mike Hill, KCC Cabinet Member for Customers and Communities; Sandra Matthews-Marsh, Chief Executive of Visit Kent; and Fran Warrington, Head of Strategy and Management at Visit Kent, cut an anniversary cake to mark the start of celebrations of 10 years of Visit Kent