Tourism in 2017

Published : 10/01/2019

The value of Ashford’s visitor economy grew by 5.3% in 2017 and is now worth £293 million, according to research released this week.

Independent research commissioned by Visit Kent showed that the value of day trips to the Ashford district leapt by 5.6% in 2017.

Visits to the district rose by 2.4% to 4.4 million trips, with 4.0 million day trips and nearly half a million overnight stays.

The total number of jobs supported by tourism grew by 5.2% to 5,769, with the industry accounting for 10% of total employment in the Ashford district.


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.

Of the growth, Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said: “This is a time of great change for Ashford; one where we are holding our own and delivering on our promises. 2018 was a hugely successful year for the borough, and one which brought art and culture to the fore. There is no doubt that the huge success of the Snowdog art trail, the opening of Elwick Place and all of our fitting commemorations for the anniversary of the end of the First World War not only had a positive impact on footfall throughout the town, but also played a part in putting the civic heartbeat back into Ashford, allowing us to reflect on the importance of our history and heritage.

Biddenden vineyards

 “2019 marks another exciting year for us, with lots more on the horizon including the development of the Curious Brewery in the spring and the Designer Outlet extension opening in the autumn. We also look forward to celebrating three important anniversaries – Biddenden Vineyard (Kent’s oldest commercial vineyard) will turn 50, our WW1 Mark 1V tank will celebrate its 100th anniversary in the town and we will see the 150th anniversary of the Willesborough Windmill.

 “It is this balance of driving forward with dynamic changes whilst honouring the rich tapestry of the past that is continuing to put Ashford on the map time and time again.”