Tourism 'worth billions' to Kent's economy

Computer generated image of proposed entertainment resort
Image caption Plans for an entertainment resort in north Kent include Europe's "largest" indoor water park and a Hollywood inspired theme park

Tourism is worth about £3.4bn to the Kent economy and supports more than 64,000 jobs according to new research.

The report commissioned by Visit Kent, a partnership between councils and tourism businesses, said the economic impact had risen by 16% in five years.

Developments including KLM flights into Manston and plans for a new Paramount amusement park would aid tourism, the report concluded.

More day trippers visited Bluewater shopping centre than any other area.

Canterbury was the second most visited part of Kent by those not making an overnight stay, the researchers found.

The research showed that in the last five years the number of day visitors to Kent rose by 9% and the number of jobs has risen by 8%.

'Work to be done'

Mark Dance from Kent County Council said: "These figures are encouraging not least because they cover the current economic crisis and pressures on personal finance."

Sandra Matthews-Marsh from Visit Kent said attractions such as Turner Contemporary in Margate, the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury and Chatham's Historic Dockyard had contributed to the number of visitors to Kent.

"Our overnight visitor numbers have only increased by 2% in the past five years, so there is clearly work to be done to match our success in the day visitor market," she said.

Turner Contemporary drew 100,000 visitors in the first six weeks after being opened in April 2011 by Tracey Emin.

Visit Kent said plans by Dutch airline KLM to start a service between Manston and Amsterdam, as well as developments at Dreamland in Margate and a scheme to build a £2bn entertainment resort near to Ebbsfleet International station would encourage tourism in the county.

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