I travel all over the county to attend and speak at various events, but rarely seem to get the chance to speak in my home town of Tunbridge Wells. Last week was the exception, as I drove across the Borough to speak at a Visit Kent investors meeting kindly hosted by Viscount and Viscountess de L’Isle at the magical Penshurst Place.
Visit Kent is the county’s tourism agency, working hard to promote Kent’s unique legacy to visitors from both home and overseas. Funding for Visit Kent’s activities is derived from a huge number of ‘investors’ – tourism and hospitality-based businesses who can see the sense in making a financial contribution to a collective fund which enables advertising and publicity for the ‘Kent brand’.
My early morning drive through slightly misty, sunny countryside to Penshurst Place was truly idyllic, and made me realise just how lucky we are in Kent to have such beautiful surroundings. There are few benefits to this recession, but with a reduced uptake in foreign holidays, more and more people are choosing “staycations” – staying at home and exploring the heritage, architecture, countryside and activities on our own doorstep.
In addition, the current value of the pound against other European currencies means that the UK, and notably Kent, is better value than ever for overseas tourists. I said at the event that tourism represents an unusual stream of income for the county by simply making the most of what we already have in our county without a hole being dug or a brick being laid. Visit Kent is doing a great job of maximising those natural assets.