Kent attractions promoted to county's residents

Tiger cubs at Howletts Wild Animal Park
Image caption Howletts Wild Animal Park was the most sought after attraction in Kent's Big Weekend Out

Thousands of people have been visiting Kent's attractions for free this weekend as tourist chiefs promote the county to its own residents.

The event previously ran as the Kent Big Day Out but has expanded this year to become the Kent Big Weekend Out.

It began after research showed a high proportion of visitors stayed with friends and family and followed their advice about the best places to see.

This year, more than 51,000 people applied for 18,000 free tickets.

Two free tickets were available to each household with a Kent postcode.

Sandra Matthews-Marsh, chief executive of Visit Kent, said people registered for tickets and then a ballot was held for any attractions that were oversubscribed.

Word of mouth

She said: "The first Kent Big Day Out was launched following Visit Kent research that revealed a high proportion of visitors to the county stayed with friends and family and relied on them for advice on the best places to see and experiences to enjoy.

"Similarly, many other visitors to Kent rely on the people they meet during their travels or working in hotels and guesthouses for recommendations.

"Attractions develop and new destinations open and often the people living on their doorstep are the last to explore them."

This year, Howletts Wild Animal Park was the most sought after attraction for the free tickets, with 3,574 people applying to visit.

In second place was Wingham Wildlife Park, with 2,099 applications, followed by the Kent and East Sussex Railway which had 1,991 applications.

Other attractions in the top 10 sites included Diggerland, the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, Hever Castle, Leeds Castle, Wildwood, Dickens World and Dover Castle.

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