It is an exciting time for tourism in Kent. The transformation of the traditional seaside holiday and the growth of cultural tourism create opportunities for a wider range of businesses than ever to be part of the visitor economy. ‘Sense of place’ is now a key ingredient of contemporary experience based tourism, but delivering that sense of place requires a new way of working, connecting with sectors of the local economy and community that may previously have regarded themselves as unrelated.
Kent has its own share of pioneers setting new benchmarks for building sustainable destinations based on networking and collaboration. The Culture Kent project, led by Turner Contemporary and funded by Arts Council England and Visit England, is a cross arts and tourism project which aims to create and support new strategic relationships between the cultural and tourism sectors in order to drive economic growth, and to promote Kent as a national and international cultural destination by building culture and the arts into the Kent tourism offer. And Produced in Kent works to join up food, drink, product and service providers to deliver the authentic taste of Kent to residents and visitors alike. Both these initiatives recognise the importance of ending the ‘silo mentality’ and building strategic relationships across multiple sectors in order to deliver the sense of place that is the hallmark of the sustainable destination. But breaking out of the silo can be a challenge, and many of the SME and micro-enterprises that dominate the tourism and hospitality sectors often struggle in isolation.
The Smartour Erasmus+ Project aims to help by providing a free on-line training package and sustainable management tool, enabling businesses to gain the skills and knowledge they need to run their businesses sustainably and generate long term benefits for the wider community. Our module sustainable supply chains and local connections demonstrates, with examples of good practice from around the country, how to go about building local sourcing and value chains, and how this can help businesses overcome problems of seasonality, reduce costs, retain staff, and raise service quality.
If you’d like to know more, come along to our free half-day event at Canterbury Christ Church University from 12.45 to 5pm on Thursday 1st June. Contributions to this interactive workshop event will be led by speakers from Visit Kent, Culture Kent, and the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. National and international participants will also be sharing their experiences of sustainable tourism networking from elsewhere in Britain, and around the world. There will be opportunities to exchange views and experience, and to register for the on-line training.
For further information and to register for the event, please visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/smart-tourism-sustainable-businesses-and-destinations-tickets-34063312284