Visit Kent’s latest Tourism Economic Impact Study, published today (Tuesday 8 December), shows before the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Canterbury’s visitor economy was valued at £523 million, after welcoming 7.8 million visitors in 2019.  

Independent research commissioned by Kent’s official destination management organisation, reveals £35 million was spent on average in the district’s economy each month in 2019, as a direct result of the region’s tourism and hospitality industry. 

The number of tourism jobs across the district showed a 5.9% increase between 2017 and 2019, to 10,707, accounting for 15% of Canterbury’s total employment last year.  

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 spending on the district’s economy.

The district’s vital statistics when it comes to tourism also include:

  • In 2019, the value of day trips in Canterbury increased by 9.7%
  • In 2019, Canterbury saw a 0.5% increase in the number of day trips taken
  • The spend per day trip in 2019 saw an increase of 9.1%
  • The value of the tourism economy rose by 6.6%
  • There was a 5.9% increase in the number of jobs supported by tourism

The release of Canterbury’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 helping the recovery of the industry. 

Cllr Jeanette Stockley, Canterbury City Council’s Lead Councillor for Tourism and Economic Development said: “The pandemic is presenting the district’s businesses with enormous challenges and for the hospitality and tourism industries those challenges are incredibly daunting.

“But this crisis will not last forever and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

“Our tourism and hospitality businesses are already thinking ahead, innovating and adapting so they are ready to take full advantage of the economic recovery when it inevitably arrives.

“The district has warmly welcomed visitors from all over the word for centuries and I have no doubt that tradition will continue into the future and bring with it jobs, prosperity and a district that has a worldwide rather than narrow outlook.”

Canterbury City Council’s Visit Canterbury team launches its Canterbury Tales campaign on Tuesday 29 December.

Cllr Stockley said: “This exciting project is timed to coincide with the anniversary of Becket’s infamous murder and capitalise at a time when people traditionally start looking for holiday inspiration. 

“We know more people than ever will be holidaying in the UK than ever before and visitors are looking for uniquely authentic experiences. 

“We’re putting storytelling at the heart of our strategy. Canterbury has an inspirational story to tell, and now is the perfect time to share it.”

Deirdre Wells, Chief Executive of Visit Kent, said: “The insights presented as part of this latest research demonstrate the huge contribution our vital industry makes to Canterbury’s economy, and to the overall economy in Kent.

“In light of the current Covid-19 pandemic, the tourism, leisure and hospitality sector is having to drastically rethink how to rebuild demand and revenue streams, working together to adapt, develop and survive.  

“That’s why we are particularly proud to be working closely with our partners in Canterbury as part of our four-year Interreg Experience project.

“This supports businesses to adapt to changing consumer trends and become more resilient by creating new visitor experiences. 

“Continued collaborative commitments like this will be critical in championing the recovery of our sector during a particularly challenging year ahead.”

The recovery of the county’s visitor economy is being further supported by money from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) which has been secured by Visit Kent, alongside colleagues in Essex and Sussex. 

The funding project, titled Rebuilding Confidence and Demand in the Visitor Economy, will be rolled out across the SELEP area, and will include major digital campaigns to drive out-of-season visits, increase consumer confidence and disperse visitors, along with dedicated local campaigns to effectively reboot the visitor economy ahead of the upcoming 2021 season.

Read the full Canterbury Tourism Economic Impact Study 2019.

For more information about Canterbury and the surrounding areas, please visit:    

For more information about Kent, please visit 

By Ed

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