Leisure and Tourism Performance
Contributing more than £3.2bn to the Kent economy,
the tourism and leisure industry continues to be one of
the county's major employers supporting 63,000 jobs
– equivalent to 1 in every 14 people employed. Kent
welcomes 57m visitors each year.
Attractions and venues
Turner Contemporary, Margate continues to draw in the
crowds with 700,000 people having visited in its first year.
It has received a Catalyst endowment grant of up to £1m
from Arts Council, Heritage Lottery Fund and Department
for Culture, Media and Sport to support sustainability and
attract investment in new artistic work.
Phase 1 of the Dreamland project has received full funding
for restoration of the scenic railway, the historic rides
collection and 'Lord' George Sanger's menagerie cages.
The park will open in 2013.
Ramsgate Tunnels Heritage Group is looking to develop the
disused rail tunnels and air raid shelters under Ramsgate into
an all-weather, year-round attraction. A successful Big Lottery
Fund bid is supporting progress with feasibility studies.
New shops, homes and restaurants in central Dover have
passed the final planning stage. In phase 1 a 108-bedroom
Travelodge, telecommunications mast and 10m LED
screen at Woolcomber Street/St James's Street, has
achieved planning permission with completion in 2013.
Phase 2 includes a variety of public spaces, a flint 'town
wall', renewed retail and restaurant space and 450 parking
spaces. The aim is to revive interest in Dover as a hub for
shopping, eating and relaxing.
The National Trust is appealing for £1.2m to buy a mile of
land on the White Cliffs of Dover. It is the missing link of local
coastline owned by the National Trust and will safeguard
it for the future. The Trust also launched a two year, £27m
restoration of Knole House in Sevenoaks in 2012.
Battle of Britain Memorial Trust has planning permission for
The Wing to be built at the National Memorial to the Few,
Capel-le-Ferne. Designed by Folkestone's Godden Allen
Lawn the building is in the shape of a Spitfire wing and will
be a paid-for visitor experience, with special effects/video
walls and an education centre.
Maidstone Museum's £3m restoration and East Wing
development by Hugo Broughton Architects, opened to the
public in spring 2012 as well as the new Kent History and
Library Centre. Maidstone's Mote Park's £2.5m restoration
and the Maidstone High Street Public Realm Project were
The Beaney Art Museum and Library, Canterbury, re-opened
in September 2012 after extensive restoration and includes
exhibition galleries, community/educational space, visitor
information and interactive events.
The new £26m Marlowe Theatre opened in October 2011
and sold 300,000 tickets in its first nine months. Designed
by Keith Williams Architects, the theatre received The
Cultural Landscape Award and the RIBA Downland Award
for architectural excellence.
Cyclopark, Gravesend opened in May 2012. This multi-sport
centre brings first class running, cycling and extreme sports
to Kent as well as regional and national events. Also in the
Thames Gateway, Milton Creek Country Park has opened
near Sittingbourne town centre.
Glow is a 5,200sqm
(55,972sqft) event venue in Bluewater.
The £60m space, owned by Lend Lease, opened in
November 2011 and has two main halls and a gallery to host
exhibitions and top musical acts and includes a plaza with
12 restaurants, cafes and bars.
Prince's Golf Club, on the Kent coast near Deal and
Sandwich, has opened new Lodge accommodation. The
opening marked the 80th anniversary of the first shot in the
1932 Open Championship hosted at Sandwich.
A new Premier Inn opened at Minster, near Ramsgate while
a boutique hotel at Albion House, overlooking the Royal
Harbour, is also planned. The Sands Hotel has planning
permission for boutique accommodation on Margate seafront.
In 2012, GSE completed phase 1 of the regeneration of the
Hythe Imperial Hotel, with a £1m investment in the exterior
of the building. Completion of the new homes on Imperial
Green will allow a further £3m investment in the new south
elevation of the hotel.
Medway has several new hotel sites including a 120-bedroom
hotel on Gillingham Waterfront, a 150-bedroom hotel on
Rochester Riverside as well as plans for a 200-bedroom hotel
on Chatham Waterfront close to a new events/conferencing
complex. Work has re-commenced at The Coniston Hotel,
Sittingbourne, with a view of opening in late 2012.
Shepherd Neame acquired The Bell Hotel, Sandwich
and The Fayreness Hotel, Broadstairs in late 2011 and
is investing in accommodation at other properties. The
Joiners Arms, West Malling, now has French boutique style
bedrooms following a £140,000 refurbishment, and the Dog
and Bear Hotel, Lenham, has refurbished its 24 bedrooms
while maintaining its 17th Century period charm.
A masterplan by Dover Harbour Board to increase capacity
with four additional Ro-Ro ferry berths in the Western Docks
is proposed. The investment will see a new marina created for
up to 370 berths. £11.4m has also been invested by extending
Pier A at the Eastern Docks to enable longer vessels to moor in
berth. This will provide improved mooring for DFDS vessels and
an alternative berth for P&O Spirit class ships. Works will also
improve marine safety and help avoid disruption to schedules.
P&O Ferries has added a second new ship, the Spirit
of France, to its fleet. The assets of liquidated operator
SeaFrance were awarded to Eurotunnel and three ships
will be back in operation shortly. A new Dover-Calais route
operated by LD Lines and DFDS started in February 2012.