Five year plan aimed at boosting tourism to Thanet

Encouraging more visitors to our beautiful isle Photo Gracie Payne

A new tourism plan for Thanet will include proposals for a water sports hub on Ramsgate East Cliff with a mixed-use leisure development of food/drink and accommodation lodges or pods; a new, large scale event and improvements at Margate harbour.

The idea, revived by town councillor David Green, was first mooted in 2014 and suggests creating a club site with beach huts, water sports, rock-climbing and walking and biking trails, a café and a shop.

Also in Thanet council’s new five year tourism plan are ideas  to identify a pilot site for combining essential public services -toilets, changing, showers, water, lifeguard station- with destination food and drink experiences and activities; a suggestion for mixed-use regeneration of  land at Viking Bay and improvements at Margate harbour to include retail, dining and a fish market connected to  Turner Contemporary, the town centre and beaches.

Harbour plans Photo Dean Spinks

The plan document created by consultants Blue Sail says: “Despite improvements, growth and increased visitor satisfaction, Thanet’s visitor economy feels vulnerable. In common with many UK towns, especially on the coast, there is a down-at-heel feel to the town centres. The local authority has dwindling resources and competing pressures, despite some success in securing grants for certain activity.”

The aim is to create all-year attractions and encourage more staying visitors. Currently almost 90% of those coming to Thanet are day trippers and around 30% of visitors come in June, July and August.

The report says: “Staying visitors spend 7 times as much as day visitors and are much “kinder” to the local community and environment. For the visitor economy to be genuinely sustainable – good for industry, community and the environment – Thanet needs to attract more staying visitors, and more visitors outside the summer months.”

Tourism is worth £320 million per year to the local economy and supports, directly and indirectly 7,950 jobs.

Nearly one in five visitors are from London with a key market being in their 20s to early 40s.

Watersports such as the Kitesurfing championships in Ramsgate Photo Brian Whitehead

Proposals to strengthen the isle’s tourism  =include continued targeting of visitors from the capital with arts & crafts retail spaces and studios, pop-up galleries and exhibitions, artisan food and drink producers, street markets and events; upgrading existing B&Bs and supporting new serviced accommodation such as midrange hotels, lodge and camping pods and high-quality independent B&Bs, improve beach hut offers and identify a new and large-scale event which draws in large numbers of visitors and helps extend the season.

The report says making sure basics, such as toilets, parking, signage and wayfinding, are good and making the most of coastal assets and the natural environment are also vital.

The aim is for Thanet council to work with businesses and organisations to help create to new proposals, potentially using funding from the High Street Heritage Action Zone, and if bidding is successful, from Future High Street Fund for Ramsgate. Margate has been named as one of the Town Deal places possibly eligible for up to £25million.

Viking Bay Photo Brian Whitehead

The report says there should be three main themes of Vibrant Towns, Coastline Focus and The Isle of Thanet Promise.

It adds: “TDC needs to look at using assets in a different way if it wants income from them, and the visitor economy presents some opportunities to do that at specific coastal sites and with specific buildings. A new coastal project group should look at what other coastal towns have achieved in recent years and work to identify a key site or coastal “asset” (as a pilot) that could be developed to provide year-round activities and experiences, most likely incorporating a “destination” food and drink outlet, and including upgraded beach facilities (such as showers, lifeguard facilities and toilets).”

Council Cabinet members are expected to agree to adopting the plan  at a ‘virtual’ meeting on April 23.


  1. Still have they not built those luxury apartments
    There is a surprise

    That is not going to attract a seagull
    Highly ambitious
    What with tourism funds
    How much waste on crown owned port and in debt
    Labour destroyed Ramsgate and continue

    • A pie in the sky dream, whilst nothing is impossible, the costs to do it would be considerable and never be recouped, the same sums invested in margate as a whole would give far greater value for money and not put all the eggs in one basket.

  2. Developing leisure and tourism is the key for economic growth in Thanet which will generate sustainable jobs. The sooner the crazy cargo airport schemes are forgotten and the real opportunity is grasped the better for everyone in Thanet ( except possibly our MP’s)

  3. Can’t see that any of this is compatible with a cargo airport. Just as well that there’s no need for new cargo capacity and Manston is in completely the wrong place anyway. When will our stupid MPs wake up to this.

    • I’ve see it watched every thing fall and crumble in thanet since the 60.s always It’s the self interested fossilised ludites stuck up there own back sides of thanet that can never see the light

  4. But please let’s not have kite-surfing along the main beach. Even one kite-surfer makes swimming risky.

  5. When Manston Airport is fully up and running it will give a real boom for jobs both directly and indirectly. All the rest sounds good as well.

    • Yea Ann all these people are going to come on holiday to sit on a beach or at a harbour side cafe as a bug cargo planes come in and take off at 500 feet or lower every 30 minutes. Or the coild go to the peaceful lake district, or Cornwall, Devon etc. Cant really see this catching on sitting under a flight path. But who knows Ann seem and the pro manston seem to think theres a market for this type of holiday. Personally sitting under a flight path on holiday isnt for me

      • Google up the airport and its runway on St.Martin . Now thatis close to the beach and is prettymuch a tourist attraction in itself

    • I think that’s dead in the water after the airline meltdown we are now having. There will be plenty of spare capacity at the existing airports for decades to come.

  6. Waving at the pilot as some drops of aviation fuel land on your head?

    Thomas Cook eat your heart out.

    Yet again TDC is a spaghetti of contradiction.

  7. Past,like over twenty years ago, suggestions included glass of acrylic roofing over the bottom of Margate high street to create an outdoor social space coffee bars restaurants area.
    Linked walkway from a social development in the old goods yard to Hartdown park with lodges in the park.
    Ice skating rink near the Dreamland complex to attract out of season visitors
    Summer ferries from the Thames to Margate harbour
    Return of a Quexpo August bank holiday festival.
    Objections have usually been linked to local interests not being able to fund but still wanting a lot of their collective nose in the profit trough.

  8. Who is going to have an enjoyable visit out of season, when it’s often high east winds, wind chill and lashing rain for 5 months of the year? Oh, and drunks and druggies parading the scruffy streets and loitering round the boarded-up shops.

  9. As the son and grandson of guest house proprietors, (My grandfather, George Goffin, co-founded the Ramsgate Hotel and Guest House Association), I can remember when you could look over the top of the East Cliff, onto the beach at low tide, anytime between May and September, and not be able to see the sand, for bodies lying on the beach, soaking up the sun. At night, the pubs, bars and night clubs were full to bursting.
    We need to bring the tourists back here. A cross channel ferry would be a good place to begin. An amenity where people could DANCE, not just drink, would be excellent, too. Remember Neros’?
    Let’s start investing in our towns. Put Thanet, Ramsgate in particular, back on the tourist map. We have a great beach, an amazing Harbour, excellent restaurants, and shed-loads of history and things to see. Let’s bring back the glory days.

  10. A cross Channel ferry to Belgium sounds good. Has it been done before? Belgians are our close friendly neighbours who like to visit Uk and vice versa. Perhaps we could town twin to bring in visitors.

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