Research reveals 4.6million visitors to Thanet in 2019 boosting economy by £352million

Ramsgate was a destination for many visitors Photo Richard Goldfinch

Thanet welcomed 4.6million visitors in 2019, bringing £352million into the economy and supporting 8,664 jobs, according to research commissioned by Visit Kent.

The research, which is collated every two years, shows an increase of 9% on tourism jobs compared to 2017, up 9.9% in visitors and a 10% increase on 2017 on spend into the local economy.

Tourism  accounted for 20% of Thanet’s total employment last year.

Holidays made up 43% of visits, business accounted for 13% and visiting family and friends accounted for 33% with 11% listed as ‘other reasons.’

Some £25 million was spent on average in the local economy each month in 2019, as a direct result of the region’s tourism and hospitality industry.

Using the industry-respected Cambridge Economic Impact Model, the study measured the volume and value of tourism across the county in 2019, and the impact of visits and visitor expenditure on the local economy.

The release of Thanet’s latest Economic Impact findings not only provides a detailed picture of the significant effect the district’s tourism and hospitality sector had on the region’s wider economy last year, but also establishes a benchmark from which to measure the impact of COVID-19, and an extremely useful vehicle in aiding the recovery of the industry.

Cllr Ruth Duckworth, Cabinet Member for Estates and Economic Development at Thanet District Council said: “Everyone involved in Thanet’s tourism industry should feel very proud. They have worked hard to create a quality offering and we are delighted that this has once again driven positive results.#

Photo Sarah Humphrey

“Whilst it’s encouraging to read about Thanet’s appeal as a destination, this year has been very challenging and the sector has been hit hard. Working with partners, we have plans including the Destination Management Framework and the Interreg Experience Project that will help tackle the impact of COVID-19 and encourage visitors out of the main summer season and to stay overnight in order to support economic growth in the district and beyond.”

Visit Kent’s latest Tourism Economic Impact Study shows that before the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the county’s visitor economy had topped £4.1 billion for the first time ever, welcoming a record 66.5 million visitors in 2019.

The research showed that the number of tourism jobs across Kent increased  6% between 2017 and 2019, to 81,458, accounting for 11% of total employment in Kent last year.

Westgate by @margatesunsets

The report used the Cambridge Economic Impact Model, measuring the volume and value of tourism in the county in 2019, and the impact of visits and visitor expenditure on the local economy.

Data also reveals the districts with the greatest number of overnight visitors were Canterbury (1,387.000) Medway (1,230,000) Swale (1,224,000) and Thanet (1,022,000).

The release of the report coincides with the launch of a significant programme of recovery, led by Visit Kent, alongside visitor economy partners at Visit Essex, East Sussex County Council and Sussex Modern.

The project, which has been titled Re-Building Confidence and Demand in the Visitor Economy, will be rolled out across the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) area. The planned package of support will include major digital campaigns to drive off-season visits, increase consumer confidence and attract visitors, along with dedicated local campaigns to reboot the visitor economy ahead of the upcoming 2021 season.

Minnis Bay huts Photo Dean Spinks

The scheme has been awarded a  grant from the SELEP Sector Support Fund: a £500,000 per year pot. The application has been awarded £200,000, with its project partners providing a range of cash and in-kind match-funding.

Deirdre Wells OBE, Chief Executive of Visit Kent, said: “We are extremely proud to be working not only with partners throughout our own county, but with allies across the region on an extensive programme of activity that aims to support the recovery of our industry following the ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Photo Thanet Tourism

“The insights presented through our latest research demonstrate the huge contribution our vital industry makes to the overall economy of Kent. The continued collaborative efforts of organisations across the region will be critical in championing the recovery of our sector during a particularly challenging year ahead.”

The recovery of Kent’s visitor economy will be further supported by funding secured by Visit Kent and Kent Downs AONB last year as part of a four-year European project. Interreg Experience will support businesses across the county to adapt to changing consumer trends and become more resilient by creating new visitor experiences.

For more information about the Thanet district, please visit:

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Thanet tourism in numbers

4.6 million trips were undertaken in the area

4.1 million day trips

 0.5 million overnight visits

 2.1 million nights in the area as a result of overnight trips

£25 million spent on average in the local economy each month.

£120 million generated by overnight visits

£166 million generated from day trips.

£352 million spent in the local area as result of tourism, taking into account multiplier effects.

 8,664 jobs supported, both for local residents from those living nearby.

7,576 tourism jobs directly supported

1,088 non-tourism related jobs supported linked to multiplier spend from tourism

Car Parks – 2019 parking paid for via Ringo 183,205 (105,027 in 2017)

Boat Moorings – 4,142 visiting vessels and 7,500 visitor nights in 2019, up from 4,074 and 6,985 respectively in 2017.


  1. These figures are impressive. Well done to all involved.

    And yet there are those who would choose to ruin the Ramsgate tourist economy overnight with a noxious cargo hub bringing in gigantic cargo planes directly over our beach and harbour at 500 feet every 12 minutes. Who would stay or eat out then? Nobody.

    Truly shocking.

  2. Quick. Let’s install a noisy and super-polluting cargo hub and put a stop to all this investment,employment and prosperity.

    • Yes, a dirty noisy airport will really pull the tourists in. Ramsgate will be heaving with people standing by the harbour to hear the sweet sounds of an aeroplane directly above them and if they’re really lucky to be anointed from on high by noxious substances both visible and invisible.

    • One of the problems facing RSP (one of many) is that investment if any sort has been hard to come by. That’s why TDC twice turned down RSP’s bid for a CPO.
      As to jobs: nearly 10,000 jobs associated with hospitality and tourism, and steadily growing since the airport closed.
      Seems good to me

    • Oh, are you an aircraft mechanic then? Most jobs would go to skilled outsiders if Manston reopened as an airport, leaving a few for forklift truck drivers! In the meantime hundreds of jobs would be lost when the tourist/hospitality industry collapses, because no one would want to come here, especially with noisy polluting cargo planes flying in over Ramsgate harbour at less than 300 meters high at least 2 an hour! The Judicial Review in progress will hopefully stop this madness, and there’s still time to contribute to the Crowd Funding for this!

  3. Some mistake, surely?
    Thanet’s salvation is dependent on the 30,000 jobs that are associated with Manston airport.
    Not to mention the 30,000 additional ones created by the electric barges.

  4. And people want to stop this investment by opening a polluting cargo hub! Thanet has primarily been fishing or tourist industries, that’s what grew places like Margate and Ramsgate. It’s time to start thinking outside the box on what Manston can offer to increase tourism all year round.

  5. Economic resilience post COVID 19 must be the focus. So good that the silly DCO for Manston airport was quashed by government this week and we can keep on talking about record visitor figures 2017 and now 2019. Ramsgate and the wider Thanet must continue to fight to hold on to our economy, £352million (in one year – not 20) and 8,664 (existing/actual) jobs!

    Please remember that the Examining Authority Recommendation report on the proposed Manston Airport concluded that >

    6.10.142. Therefore, the ExA concludes and recommends that the Proposed Development would have an adverse effect on tourism in Ramsgate.

    6.10.121. Further on in the Examination, TDC confirmed its view that: “… the amenity impacts from the construction and operation of the proposed development may adversely affect the tourism industry in Ramsgate and the wider Thanet area and weigh against any proposed benefit.”

    Please do keep supporting Jenny here >

  6. Personally, boarded up public toilets and un-swept roads would put me off seaside resorts more than a nearby airport.

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