Kent’s £4bn tourism economy faces 80% income loss

Enjoying Ramsgate beach Photo Brian Whitehead

By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan

Kent’s tourism economy could lose up to 80% of its annual income this year, it has emerged.

Around 65 million people visit Kent each year, contributing nearly £4billion to the local economy over the 12-month period and supporting one in 10 jobs.

However, over 90% of Kent’s tourism businesses are currently shut, including pubs and hotels, as the industry enters its peak season. Thanet’s Dreamland summer attraction was among the chief casualties, issuing redundancy notice to 52 staff in April.

Visit Kent’s chief executive officer, Deirdre Wells, said: “As many businesses will need to operate with far less capacity, due to social distancing restrictions,  there will clearly be an impact on revenue.”


The tourism organisation has forecast income losses varying between 30% and 80% over the next few months while further concerns have been raised about imposing social distancing measures in an “economically viable way”.

KCC’s main opposition leader, Cllr Rob Bird (Lib Dem), said “time is of the essence” for the survival of Kent’s visitor economy during a virtual public meeting last week.

However, Visit Kent’s chief executive officer says domestic tourism could quickly “rebound” and “staycations” could be rediscovered if Covid-19 infection rates remain low and the phased exit from restrictions takes place.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said holidays within the UK could return from July as part of “ambitious” Whitehall plans to revive the tourism sector quickly. His comments came during a Downing Street daily news briefing last week.
Ms Wells said: “The very welcome support which our sector has received from the Government will need to continue for some time to enable us to avoid losing much-loved businesses in a year of ‘three’ winters.”
Events that attract visitors have been called off
Hundreds of Kent businesses have already adapted since the March lockdown was imposed.  Pubs have switched to grocery and takeaway services while some visitor attractions have offered “behind-the-scenes” virtual tours.
Kent County Council’s (KCC) scrutiny committee met virtually last Wednesday and members discussed the potential economic damage of Covid-19 on the tourism and leisure industry.

KCC’s former Lib Dem leader Trudy Dean called for urgent County Hall action to support the struggling sector. She said: “Kent has a huge reliance upon tourism.

“The people who want to book holidays in Kent will want to know that the accommodation they are coming to is doing things properly, such as social distancing rules.”

Cllr Bird added: “We need to see what damage has been done to our visitor economy and what steps are being taken to support in the recovery, and, we need to do that very quickly if we want to get our recovery right.”

After the virtual meeting, Ms Wells concluded: “What is clear is that, despite the industry facing its biggest ever challenge, our businesses remain passionate about welcoming visitors to our beautiful county.”


  1. But people are coming here in droves and there are no self distancing systems at the toilets nor the beach.
    Shops are closed
    Pubs too.
    What we did have has been ruined by labour and tories for decades what do you expect.
    Margate diminished when wwx was built
    High rates kick businesses out
    Left margate dead
    Two JG FIRES for insurance
    Destroyed what we had.
    Land banking destroys
    Estate agents offshore leaks being allowed to build.. I will not allow this any more at planning officers at CEO
    YOU and past staff destroyed the port
    Destruction. We are left to salvage and go forward with the same Thanet Council.. No

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