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MP HELEN WHATELY: Reopening Kent's tourism industry

Wednesday 8th July 2020

BY MP HELEN WHATELY (MP for Faversham and Mid Kent)


This weekend should have been the Kent County Show.

Prize winning cherries, sheep shearing competitions, and tractor parades. It’s the annual showcase of the Garden of England.

Sadly, like many other events this year, it’s been cancelled due to coronavirus.

The organisers looked into every possibility of holding the show in a way that was safe, but it just wasn’t possible.

It’s the first year since 1946 that the Kent Show hasn’t taken place. I know how much it will be missed by farmers, traders and families who’ve been going for years.

But the Show will be back next year, and we’ll appreciate it more than ever.

And there are still plenty of other things to do in Kent this summer.

Over 440 hospitality and entertainment businesses in Faversham and Mid Kent are set to open again this month, following further changes to lockdown measures on 4 July.

It means more great places to visit can open again, which is good news as tourism supports around 67,000 jobs in Kent and is worth almost £4 billion to our local economy. These businesses will be benefitting from a cut in VAT to help them get back on their feet.

Among the attractions beginning to reopen is Leeds Castle. Like many businesses, it has worked hard to adjust to social distancing. Visitor numbers are being limited and people need to book a time slot in advance, but I’m pleased visitors are starting to return.

The Castle will even be hosting outdoor cinema screenings next month.

Other places reopening are zoos and wildlife parks, caravan parks, museums and galleries, and gardens. Kent’s vineyards can also open to the public once again. These places will probably look a little different than they did before lockdown on account of social distancing.

We’re continuing to make progress in tackling the virus, but we can’t afford to be complacent.

Holidays abroad will also become easier soon, with the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days being lifted from over 50 countries – including Spain, France and Italy. But a staycation in Kent could be just as good!