Culture Kent research discovers cultural tourists are more likely to stay longer in Kent

As part of the Culture Kent project, extensive research was carried out to discover more about cultural tourists visiting Kent. From the research findings, we have discovered that cultural tourists have a higher propensity to stay longer when visiting the county than other leisure tourists.

Culture Kent sought to reposition Kent as one of the UK’s creative counties, through a series of pilot events and artworks in key destinations: Margate, Folkestone, Canterbury, Whitstable, Medway and Dover. Turner Contemporary worked with Kent’s tourism body Visit Kent to bring cultural organisations and tourism businesses together to create new ways of attracting and engaging tourists.

Image Folkstone Outer Harbour Beach

photo: Thierry Bal & Folkestone Triennial 2014

A key element of the project involved the commissioning of an in-depth research programme, part of which examined the perceptions, motivations, experiences and demographics of ‘cultural tourists’ to Kent.

Cultural tourists are those visitors who are primarily motivated to visit a destination because of its cultural offer, and visitors who participate in the cultural activity of a place, even if it is not the prime reason for visiting.

Canterbury Christ Church University (Tourism and Events Research Hub) and Visit Kent were commissioned to undertake the research for a two-year period from 2015 – 2017, the first time such research has been carried out in the county.

The consumer research surveyed the behaviour and perceptions of three different groups of domestic tourists: existing Kent cultural tourists, potential cultural tourists and existing Kent leisure tourists.

The research has found that:

● A higher proportion of existing Kent cultural tourists went on short breaks (51%) and mid-length holidays (21%) than existing Kent leisure tourists (43% and 14% respectively). Cultural tourists’ tendency to spend longer in Kent supports the need to actively engage in promoting the cultural tourism offer further.

● 54% of those surveyed associate Kent as a cultural destination (above the VisitEngland average of 35% for Great Britain)

● Cultural tourists also value destinations with an attractive natural setting.

● Cultural trips are extremely diverse, and are increasingly about authentic experiences across multiple sites and businesses in one destination, all of which help visitors to understand and experience the place, its people and its culture.

The research has also newly defined what a ‘cultural destination’ is:

“The cultural destination is a networked space delivering a total experience to visitors that helps them understand a location and its people, through history and contemporary culture.”


Turner and the Elements, Turner Contemporary. Photo Stephen White

Culture is regarded as a key driver for tourism, with World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) figures estimating 37% of world travel is undertaken by ‘cultural tourists’. Cultural tourism has maintained its upward trend in the face of economic austerity, particularly seen along the South East of England’s Creative Coast.

Declining coastal areas have experienced a renaissance, with economic investment in culture increasing tourism, both domestic and inbound, to the South East, such as Turner Contemporary in Margate, Folkestone Triennial and Whitstable Biennale.

Turner Contemporary has spearheaded the regeneration of Margate, welcoming over 2.5 million visits since it opened in 2011 and contributing over £58 million into the local economy through tourism and inward investment.

Director of Turner Contemporary, Victoria Pomery OBE said:

“The new research undertaken via the Culture Kent project has shown us that the arts can drive and sustain economic and social change by attracting cultural tourists. From this insight, we plan to create more meaningful, relevant experiences for visitors and the local community. We are very excited to be using this knowledge to further our impact, and deliver Culture Coasting – an ambitious project, which will include new artistic commissions and benefit the whole of the Creative Coast in the South East.”

Project Director Culture Kent Sarah Dance said:

“The Culture Kent Project gave us important new insight into cultural tourism to the county. This new research allows us to understand our audiences better, meaning we are now able to deliver a real step-change in the visitor economy. We know that in order to become a really successful ‘cultural destination’ we need to be a networked area, delivering a total experience to visitors that helps them understand a location and its people, through history and contemporary culture. Culture Coasting will take forward this knowledge to create a new and exciting connected experience for visitors to the South East coast region.”

Director, Tourism and Events Research Hub at Canterbury Christ Church University Dr Karen Thomas said:

“The findings from the Culture Kent research programme show that the time is right for increased cross-sectoral working, with key drivers converging to support the move to more collaborative work between tourism and culture/the arts. Culture Kent created an effective enabling environment for this, unlocking new possibilities for the sectors to work together. This research is important to the legacy of Culture Kent, providing an enhanced understanding of the cultural tourism landscape together with organisational and consumer perspectives on cultural tourism.”

Antony Gormley, ANOTHER TIME, 2017. Photo credit Stephen White (8) - 1500px

ANOTHER TIME XXI, 2013 © Antony Gormley. On Fulsam Rock on the Margate foreshore. Photography by Thierry Bal

This significant new research informs an ambitious new project led by Turner Contemporary and Visit Kent, Culture Coasting.

A pioneering new cultural trail will be created, combining original new artworks by leading contemporary artists with geocaching treasure trail technology to offer visitors a unique new experience. The three-year project is funded by Arts Council England’s Cultural Destinations programme and VisitEngland’s Discover England Fund and will create a step-change in the visitor economy, increasing tourists to the South East by 2020.

Turner Contemporary will work with partners across the South East coast from Eastbourne to the Thames Estuary: Towner Art Gallery, De La Warr Pavilion, Jerwood Gallery, Creative Foundation, Whitstable Biennale and Metal, to create the trail.

The project has also secured significant investment from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), East Sussex County Council and Kent County Council.

Culture Coasting will demonstrate how new initiatives and a networked cultural destination can increase tourism across a region.

You can read the full report and case studies, as well as research insight summaries by clicking on the links below:

Summary of Findings (Executive summary)
Culture Kent Summary of Findings report

Detailed research reports:
Audit of the Cultural Tourism Landscape (i)
Audit of the Cultural Tourism Landscape (ii)
Organisational Perspectives
Consumer perspectives

Research insights summaries:
Research Insights – Evidence Review
Research Insights – Organisational perspective
Research Insights – Consumer perspective

Case studies:
Culture Kent Case Study 1 – Margate
Culture Kent Case Study 2 – Folkestone
Culture Kent Case Study 3 – Dover
Culture Kent Case Study 4 – Canterbury
Culture Kent Case Study 5 – Whitstable
Culture Kent Case Study 6 – Medway

Round Table legacy and ways forward
Round Table Best practice


Canterbury Culture

Canterbury Culture

For centuries Canterbury has been a cultural icon. Tourists flock to the city to experience this culture, to connect with the buildings and streets that offer a glimpse back to England’s past.

Google ‘Canterbury’ and you will get a page of images showing the Cathedral, boat trips on the Stour and the castle.

Our project, ‘Canterbury Culture’, set out to take this brilliant heritage backdrop and thread through it the masses of contemporary culture that we have in the city.



Canterbury has great theatres showing a huge range of work, it boasts an International Arts Festival every October and a wealth of museums headed by the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge alongside galleries such as the Sidney Cooper Gallery presenting creativity from the past and from the present. There is a wealth of new music being presented by City Sound Project and Beautiful Town Music amongst others, and there are spoken word nights springing up across the city complementing Wise Words Festival which is held each Spring in the stunning Blackfriars Garden.

I have missed out loads, including the wealth of creativity generated at our three Universities, and through the great work of the Canterbury Arts Council, the Canterbury players and on and on….

Canterbury Culture exists to celebrate all of this creativity, to shout about them and to work with heritage & tourism partners to present a rounded view of Canterbury to visitors.

We are doing this in two main ways:

We created which is an event listing and blog. The site highlights events that are ‘Unique to Canterbury or a surprise to see in Canterbury’. This could be Glyndebourne touring to The Marlowe Theatre, or local band Syd Arthur playing Gulbenkian.

The blog has a remit to feature lifestyle that includes culture and the arts – not just bang on about arts events. So we will do a feature on great coffee shops in town, alongside an item about open mic gigs.

The website is supported by Facebook and Twitter social platforms.

Culture Tellers
Working with Canterbury based creative agency Dodgems & Floss, we have developed the Culture Tellers. Based upon the origami-tastic fortune tellers we used to do at school, the Tellers invite users to choose numbers and colours, taking them to a character and a secret Canterbury location

The Tellers have been placed in key tourism spots including The Canterbury Tales, The Marlowe Theatre and The Beany House of Art and Knowledge.


Culture Kent
This project would not have happened without Culture Kent. The brief to reach Canterbury tourists was written by Sarah Dance at Culture Kent, and all we as a group decided to do was pitch to take on and deliver the pilot project.

Through Culture Kent we accessed funding, but also expertise of the Audience Agency for seminars on research and digital audiences, plus evaluation from Canterbury Christ Church University. There is also a great feeling of being given licence to experiment – this is a pilot, a test and we are all trying out new things. The ethos that everything we learn is to be shared with the wider Culture Kent partnership.

It has been massively beneficial working together as partners. We still have to evaluate the real outcomes of the project in terms of increased audiences and awareness of arts events, but all those involved feel we have created something that can improve and develop over time.

So we are now searching for funding from April 2017, so the pilot project can become just what we do….

Dave Yard

Introduction to PR

Image result for introduction to pr

On 8 July 2016, Sinead Hanna of Visit Kent delivered a comprehensive over view of the fundamentals of PR; including dealing with the media, identifying appropriate PR tactics, developing a strategic PR campaign from scratch, writing press releases and evaluating success.

Sinead gave helpful ‘insider’ tips on how to deal with the tourism/travel press, in particular she spoke about potentially off putting buzz words including ‘unique’ and ‘ground breaking’.  Sinead also talked about how the press prefer to be communicated with and how to construct an eye catching press release (her top tip – when writing your press release leave creating the title to the end!)

With more than 12 years experience in PR, communications, marketing, and journalism with public and private sector partners. Sinead gave us a better understanding of the relationship between PR and marketing, including; how to create a PR plan – either for a project or for a longer campaign, understanding how traditional and social media work, developing a range of impactful PR tactics, the ability to identify opportunities to place stories in the media, an understanding of how to deal with incoming media enquiries as well as how to manage ongoing issues and how to write those important press releases.

This event provided an excellent networking opportunities for multiple art organisations, and was tailor made towards the difficulties faced by those working in the art world (how to sell impenetrable academic text?)

Training events such as these, are a great way in which arts organisations can look for new methods of cross promotion.

Please follow the link below to view the PowerPoint slides:


Culture Kent Google Analytics Training Course

Image result for google analytics

On 28 July 2016 Culture Kent and the ‘Canterbury Pilot’ delivered a highly informative training course to provide an overview of how Google Analytics and Hitwise tools can help improve traffic to websites; within which Katie Moffatt from the Audience Agency* presented a report examining website traffic data to identify core visitors to key websites within the Canterbury area.

In her report Katie established how tourists use these sites to plan their visit to Canterbury including looking at: demographic, age, gender, types of individuals. It was noted that the majority of visitors to the site were 68% female, aged 55+. In addition visitors were in a close geographical radius with the majority located in South East London; visitors from outside of this radius were typically younger (24-34 age range).

This analysis highlights how London represents a major opportunity in terms of tourism to cultural sites – 18% of visits were from the London area.

Katie also spoke about how people arrive at the site including examination of the searches they making and how their searches lead them to the site. The majority of traffic to the site was generated through links from other websites. This shows how important placing links to partnering cultural sites is to generate additional interest in the region.

Katie explained that the Google search engine was used the most, demonstrating that this is a powerful tool to directing traffic to the site.

Data was extracted during 12 week period in March which arguably means that it is limited by not having comparable data. However what it does demonstrate is how vital it is to encourage reasons to travel including promoting the cultural delights Kent and London have to offer. Through research and analysis of website traffic it is easier to identify new opportunities for investing in tourism products that create great experiences, and clearly shows how working in partnership is a key driver to enhance cultural tourism.


Cultural Tourism – Why Bother? Symposium

The Culture Kent symposium took place on 16 December 2015 at Turner Contemporary.   Over 80 people attended this hugely successful event from a diverse range of cultural and tourism organisations. High profile and provocative speakers gave the audience plenty to think about from the role of large organisations to small, the importance of collaboration and people within a cultural tourism offer and shared cultural tourism exemplars across the UK.

Speakers included Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of Southbank Centre, James Berresford, Jane Marriott (Deputy Director, Hepworth Gallery) and David Statham, Managing Director of Southeastern.

As the speakers pointed out, coastal resorts across the UK  have experienced years of under investment leading to high levels of deprivation.  But in Kent ,and particularly in Margate and other parts of East Kent, culture-led regeneration  has had significant impact on both the local ecology and the tourism market.    In Margate, Turner Contemporary’s programmes encourage individuals to see the world differently and help people to realise their potential.

Jude Kelly highlighted how Cultural Tourism is about people making a difference and establishing the identity of a place;  the CEO of Visit England highlighted that culture is a huge driver of visitation and an important part of the visit. The conference outlined how tourism is a product of changing economic, technical and social factors and it is vital to encourage reasons to travel including promoting the cultural delights Kent has to offer. The importance of research and intelligence were noted as being really key to making the case for investing in tourism products that create great experiences. And the role of partnership working  as key driver to enhance cultural tourism was also noted.  The full speeches can be found via the links below: