Visit Kent Wins Funding To Champion Heritage Railways

Visit Kent has won a major Government funding bid to help promote and celebrate the county’s beautiful heritage railways, it was announced today (Weds 25th May).

The Department for Transport has announced the winners of its Heritage and Community Rail Tourism Innovation competition, which aims to boost rail-related tourism across the country.

Visit Kent, the destination management organisation for The Garden of England, was one of the 17 winning bids and has been awarded the £75,000 of UK Government funding for its Connecting Kent’s Heritage Railways project.

The competition aims to create new opportunities for UK and overseas tourists to access and enjoy the hidden gems of the country’s heritage and community railways, and forms part of the Government’s five-point plan to boost tourism across the UK.

Rail Minister Claire Perry MP said: “We want to show the best of British to our visitors, and Heritage and Community Railways are part of that package.

“I am delighted that the Connecting Kent’s Heritage Railways project is one of 17 national winners across Britain. I look forward to seeing the scheme develop, providing another great reason to visit Kent.”

Visit Kent’s winning project aims to improve knowledge and awareness of Kent’s stunning heritage railways, including East Kent Railway, Kent and East Sussex Railway, Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway, Spa Valley Railway.

Visit Kent will work to increase awareness of and visit to the heritage railways with dedicated marketing, PR and social media campaigns, including a new digital platform for the network and presence in Visit Kent’s London marketing campaign this summer. The campaign will also join ‘the old and the new’ by working with Southeastern to improve awareness of the local heritage railways at the nearest mainline stations, including orientation and staff training.

Visit Kent will also carry out research to identify key groups and operators who can join the campaign and drive footfall, and bring the heritage railways together umbrella to help them collaborate, share best practice, cross-promote and work on future projects to ensure year on year success.

Sandra-Matthews Marsh MBE, chief executive of Visit Kent said: “We are delighted that Kent has won this funding from the UK Government, and that work can begin on an exciting project to champion our county’s rich rail heritage.

“Kent not only has five fantastic heritage railways welcoming visitors, but we are also home to Hornby Hobbies, to the first new rail line built since the 1800s (High Speed One) and possibly to a new railway heritage museum, which is in its planning stages in Ashford.

“Each of Kent’s heritage railways has a unique story to tell, and we look forward to celebrating and sharing these with more visitors.”

Community rail lines account for around 40 million journeys per year, and the sector contributes an estimated £250 million to the UK economy. Other successful bids to Department for Transport include a new national website of the best of Britain’s community rail lines.

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