Visit Kent is spreading the word that The Garden of England is still open for business despite the disruptions caused by Operation Stack.
The county’s destination management team is urging both national figureheads and those tackling the crisis on the M20 to support Kent’s tourism businesses by fighting the perception that the county is entirely gridlocked. Chair of Visit Kent Amanda Cottrell OBE said: “Operation Stack is a crippling problem for hauliers, residents and local businesses, but the negative perception of Kent – and England – currently being perpetuated as a result could be far more devastating.“We are receiving reports from attractions that people in the UK and abroad have the impression that the county – the gateway to England – is a ‘no go’ area and that it is inaccessible. This is simply not the case.
“It is vital that we spread the word that despite the issues on the M20, Kent IS open for business this summer. There are numerous ways of getting to and around the county, and our wonderful attractions, hotels, pubs and countryside are ready and waiting for visitors. “Kent tourism contributes £3.4billion to the economy and supports 67,000 jobs. We are confident that Kent’s unique and resilient tourism industry will weather the storm, but our attractions and associated business deserve national support and recognition at this time.”
Visit Kent contacted 95 tourism businesses in Kent about the crisis – 82% stated that Operation Stack has had an impact on their business and 37% have experienced loss of business from cancellations and visits being cut short. This includes leading attractions Dover Castle, Leeds Castle and Canterbury Cathedral – all of which are open and are easily accessible by other roads and by train. Anecdotally, many attribute the loss to group cancellations from international visitors. Depending on the size of the business the cost of this lost business varies but for many it is rolling into the thousands.
Visit Kent is issuing the following advice to UK and international tourists travelling to Kent:
- You CAN get here – there are numerous routes to Kent’s attractions that bypass Operation Stack and even those situated close to the M20 are easily accessible by other roads, and are open for business. Plan ahead, check traffic updates, and you can have a great day out.
- Think train – Southeastern has excellent rail connections across the county and most tourist attractions, big and small, can be reached by train www.southeasternrailway.co.uk
- Discounts to attractions – 2FOR1 deals and special offers are available for anyone who uses public transport (train or bus) to travel to Kent attractions? Visit www.visitkentoffers.co.uk for the full list of 2FOR1 deals.
- There is PLENTY to see and do – Kent is a huge county with a varied offer; only a small area is directly affected by Operation Stack. Kent has incredible coastline for sunbathing & surfing, rural escapes, stunning castles and gardens, buzzing cultural hotspots, and plenty of family-friendly fun. Go to www.visitkent.co.uk for inspiration
- Take a break – Kent has a great range of places to stay, from luxury treehouses to quirky pubs with rooms, so don’t be afraid to extend your visit. Check out our 10 Unique Places to Stay
AUGUST HIGHLIGHTS IN KENT
- 50th Broadstairs Folk Week
- Jousting at Hever Castle
- Grayson Perry’s Provincial Punk at Turner Contemporary
- Summer Knights at Leeds Castle
- Firepower Through The Ages at Dover Castle
- War Games at Historic Dockyard Chatham (on tour from V&A Museum of Childhood.