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Tourist numbers boost Swale's economy

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Wednesday 9 January 

The value of Swale’s visitor economy grew by 3.9% in 2017 and is now worth £237 million, according to research released this week. 

Independent research commissioned by Visit Kent showed that the value of day trips to the Swale district increased by 3% in 2017, whilst the value of overnight trips increased by 1.5%. 

Visits to the district rose by 2.2% to 5.1 million trips, with 4.7 million day trips and nearly half a million overnight stays. Swale also saw a healthy 12% increase in the number of nights stayed by overseas visitors in 2017. 

The total number of jobs supported by tourism grew by 3.9% to 4,738, with the industry accounting for 10% of total employment in Swale. 

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.

Cllr Mike Cosgrove, cabinet member for regeneration at Swale Borough Council says:

“It’s easy to see why tourists are flocking to Swale, and giving a healthy boost to our area’s economy. Lovers of the outdoors can enjoy Oare Nature Reserve or the marshes at Elmley, history buffs can learn about the significance of Queenborough and Sheerness. Gardening fans will always be welcome at Doddington Place or Belmont House, and the market town of Faversham is a real gem.” 


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 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 Swale 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

More information

For further media information on Visit Kent, please contact In-house PR Consultant Katy Towse on or Brand Manager Lana Crouch on, or call 01227 812914.

For images of Kent, go to Flickr.  

About Visit Kent

Visit Kent Ltd is the Destination Management Organisation for Kent (the Garden of England), welcoming 65million visitors a year, championing the county’s £3.8 billion tourism industry and supporting more than 77,000 jobs. 

It is recognised as one of the country’s leading DMOs, targeting UK and overseas markets to raise Kent’s profile as a premier destination, improving quality and skills within the industry, and growing investment in tourism. Visit Kent is a public/private sector partnership supported by Kent County Council, Medway Council, district and borough councils, and the leading sector tourism businesses in Kent. 

For further information visit (consumer) or (business), or tweet @visitkent. 

About The Cambridge Economic Impact Model 

The figures were derived using the Cambridge Economic Impact Model undertaken by Sergi Jarques at Destination Research on behalf of Visit Kent. The Cambridge Economic Impact Model is an industry respected tool for measuring the economic impact of tourism in a given area. It utilises information from national tourism surveys and regional/local data (e.g. accommodation stock, inbound trips) of the level of tourism activity within a given local area. 

Please note that all figures in the research reports have been rounded, therefore there might be marginal discrepancies in subtotals and totals. 

Is it estimated that 6,023 actual jobs are supported by Bluewater, raising the total employment in that area to 9,765, or 16% of all employment in Dartford. Whilst it contributes to Kent’s visitor economy, the shopping and retail nature of the destination must be taken into consideration.

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