David Cameron: Why I want more visitors to discover Kent

If David Cameron would keep his pledge to re-open Manston Airport we could have visitors flying directly into Kent thereby boosting the tourist economy of the South East.



“The Prime Minister has given his backing to a campaign to draw tourists towards Kent.

David Cameron said despite the county attracting 58 million visitors every year, half the money spent by tourists in the UK is invested in London.

Mr Cameron added the fact millions of holidaymakers are not leaving the confines of the M25 and missing the opportunity to experience destinations such as Canterbury Cathedral and Leeds Castle needs to be addressed.

He said: “Tourism is so important to our country. It creates jobs – 68,000 in Kent alone. It boosts growth and attracts investment.

“We want the benefits of this vibrant industry to be spread more evenly across the country, so prosperity and opportunities aren’t just concentrated in London.”

His comments came as MPs from across the county prepared to mark English Tourism Week by visiting tourist attractions in their constituencies.

Among the MPs partaking in events today are Michael Fallon (Sevenoaks), who will be at Knole house and park at 2.45pm with Sandra Matthews-Marsh MBE from Visit Kent and Helen Whatley (Faversham and Mid Kent), who will be visiting a number of farms.

The government has announced a five-point plan to boost tourism, an industry which contributes more than £22billion to the UK’s economy each year.

It includes infrastructure improvement as well as a global advertising campaign – £135,000 has been awarded to Kent to advertise itself in Sweden and Norway – and has already seen steps taken to make the visa process easier for tourists.

Mr Cameron added the iconic, but derelict Art Deco Cinema within the Dreamland site in Margate has recently had more than £1.89 million promised to bring the original building back to its 1930s glory.

A further £247,131 has been pledged to boost Thanet’s unique coast and heritage.

He concluded: “London is one of the most visited cities in the world. That’s fantastic. But our mission is to make people – at home and abroad – look beyond the capital.

“To look to our beaches and country houses; our theatres and galleries; our festivals and sporting events; to look at the wonders of Kent.

“It’s good for them; it’s good for us. And it’s another step towards a greater Britain.”

The campaign to boost tourism in Kent comes just in time for summer, a season which has traditionally drawn millions of visitors from the rest of Britain and further afield to many of Kent’s attractions.

However, last year tourists were hindered considerably as Operation Stack reared its ugly head, bringing much of the county to a standstill for a record-breaking 32 days.

The disruption had a severe effect on tourism across Kent, leaving a multi-million pound hole in the county’s economy.

It is hoped a planned £250m lorry park at junction 11 of the M20 will stop this happening again but according to Richard Burden, the shadow road minister, the proposal is only part of the solution.

Mr Burden, who was speaking during a visit to Ashford this week, said instead the county needs a number of parks and also criticised the government for its failure to set out what would happen if there was a repeat of last summer’s disruption.”