Not Just About the Past: Looking Towards the Future of Kent as an Arts & Cultural Destination

Image Turner Contemporary

Why dedicate an entire project on arts & cultural events in Kent, as Culture Kent does?  It seems that Kent is already known as the ‘Garden of England‘, as Visit Kent highlights on its website header, and a place with important historical connections going back thousands of years.  Yet, it offers more than just beautiful gardens and World Heritage sites such as Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey, and St Martin’s Church.

Kent refers to an area in southeastern England that comprises 13 districts: Sevenoaks, Dartford, Gravesham, Tonbridge & Malling, Medway, Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells, Swale, Ashford, Canterbury, Shepway, Thanet, and Dover.  Within these districts are truly unique places that support the arts & culture that may not be as well-known to people in other countries or even counties in England.

Among these districts, tourism in Kent resulted in the following statistics:

  • Welcomed 57 million visitors
  • Worth £3.4 billion to the local economy
  • Supports over 65,000 jobs

Culture and Heritage in Kent
Thanks to research by Visit Kent and Visit Britain, we can identify some key factors in tourists’ motivations, behaviours, and perceptions of Kent.

Motivation

  • 63% are motivated by heritage, which is the top reason for visiting the county
  • 25% are motivated by culture and the arts
  • 9% are motivated by special events

Behaviour

When in Kent:

  • 9% visit a heritage attraction
  • 22% visit a cultural venue
  • 16% attend a special event

Perception

  • 59% associate heritage with the county
  • 25% associate Kent with cultural events and festivals

What can we learn from these statistics?

Of these millions of tourists, a majority of them still equate Kent with cultural heritage.  However, the perception of Kent as an arts & cultural destination is continuing to grow.  After Visit Kent and Turner Contemporary conducted a marketing campaign aimed to increase awareness of culture in Kent,  awareness grew from 4% to 10% – the biggest increase for any one area.  We need to continue audiences awareness of Kent as a place to visit for arts & culture.

In upcoming posts, we’ll spotlight organisations and events that are unique to Kent.

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