Tourism growth in AshfordPosted on 11 January 2019
The value of Ashford’s visitor economy grew by 5.3% in 2017 and is now worth £293 million, according to research released this week.
Independent research commissioned by Visit Kent showed that the value of day trips to the Ashford district leapt by 5.6% in 2017.
Visits to the district rose by 2.4% to 4.4 million trips, with 4.0 million day trips and nearly half a million overnight stays.
The total number of jobs supported by tourism grew by 5.2% to 5,769, with the industry accounting for 10% of total employment in the Ashford district.
The tourism picture was healthy across the county in 2017, despite the challenges presented by ongoing Brexit negotiations and wet weather during the summer. Kent welcomed 65 million visitors in 2017, and the visitor economy’s value leapt by 7% to £3.8 billion.
Visits to the Ashford district rose by 2.4% to 4.4 million trips, with 4.0 million day trips and nearly half a million overnight stays.Visit Kent
Of the growth, Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said: “This is a time of great change for Ashford; one where we are holding our own and delivering on our promises. 2018 was a hugely successful year for the borough, and one which brought art and culture to the fore. There is no doubt that the huge success of the Snowdog art trail, the opening of Elwick Place and all of our fitting commemorations for the anniversary of the end of the First World War not only had a positive impact on footfall throughout the town, but also played a part in putting the civic heartbeat back into Ashford, allowing us to reflect on the importance of our history and heritage.
“2019 marks another exciting year for us, with lots more on the horizon including the development of the Curious Brewery in the spring and the Designer Outlet extension opening in the autumn. We also look forward to celebrating three important anniversaries – Biddenden Vineyard (Kent’s oldest commercial vineyard) will turn 50, our WW1 Mark 1V tank will celebrate its 100th anniversary in the town and we will see the 150th anniversary of the Willesborough Windmill.
“It is this balance of driving forward with dynamic changes whilst honouring the rich tapestry of the past that is continuing to put Ashford on the map time and time again.”
There is no doubt that the huge success of the Snowdog art trail, the opening of Elwick Place and all of our fitting commemorations for the anniversary of the end of the First World War had a positive impact on footfall throughout the town.Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council
The Garden of England welcomed a record 64,970,000 visitors throughout 2017 with the county’s tourism industry accounting for 76,828 jobs. Across Kent, visitor numbers rose compared to the previous year with the highest volume of day trips, value of tourism and tourism related jobs recorded.
Kent also remains the third most visited destination outside of London for foreign visitors.
Chief executive of Visit Kent, Deirdre Wells OBE said: “Tourism is the UK’s fastest growing service sector and these figures demonstrate the contribution which our vital industry makes to the economy of Kent. With our stunning countryside, world-class heritage, and delicious locally sourced food and drink, it is no surprise that visitor numbers are increasing in districts like Ashford year on year.
“The collective efforts of tourism businesses across the county have paid dividends and this partnership will be critical in ensuring that this growth continues during a challenging year ahead.”
She added: “These figures demonstrate that, wherever you are based in Kent, tourism can bring growth, prosperity and jobs to your community. Our challenge going forward will be to turn more of our day visits into overnight stays and short breaks, bringing even further growth to the county.”
The research uses the industry-respected Cambridge Economic Impact Model to measure the volume and value of tourism, and the impact of visits and visitor expenditure on the local economy. Studies were carried out across each of Kent’s districts to build an accurate picture of tourism performance in the county.
Since 2006, the value of Kent’s tourism industry has risen by 33%.
Leader of Kent County Council, Paul Carter, said “The results from the 2017 survey commissioned by Visit Kent clearly show that the visitor economy is increasingly important to the county’s future prosperity”.
For more information about Kent, please visit www.visitkent.co.uk.