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New research highlights investment and growth opportunities in Kent’s accommodation sector

Antonia Stratford
6th October 2020

Go To Places has revealed the final results from a comprehensive two year study that explores the supply and demand for new hotel accommodation across Kent.

The study, carried out by Canterbury Christ Church University, identifies the current gaps in Kent’s hotel provision and opportunities for future growth.  Detailed insights from the research will be available to delegates at the 2020 Annual Hotel Conference which is taking place virtually on 8 and 9 October but topline findings reveal that:

  • There are currently no five star rated hotels in Kent
  • Only 30 properties in the county have over 100 bedrooms resulting in limited provision to hold large scale meetings, events and conferences
  • Canterbury is the lead destination for business and holiday bed nights per year in the county and Thanet is an area of high and growing demand, but there is a limited supply of 3 and 4 star accommodation, venue space and provision for groups in both districts
  • Folkestone and Hythe has limited 4 star accommodation provision despite being second in the county for holiday demand
  • Airbnb has seen rapid growth during 2016 - 2019 increasing by 255% in Sevenoaks and 604% in Folkestone and Hythe
  • There are six ‘key drivers’ shaping Kent’s visitor economy: transport connectivity; location; visitor offer; local public sector policy and infrastructure projects

David Curtis-Brignell, Deputy Chief Executive, Go To Places comments: “Clearly this research demonstrates that there is an unmet demand for hotel accommodation in Kent and Medway.   

“Kent has a very strong visitor offer – 350 miles of coastline, countless world-famous heritage sites and events, high-end experiences, quality local produce and a vibrant cultural and arts scene.  As a result, our visitor economy has grown by over £1bn in the past decade but our accommodation offer has not kept up with this demand.

“The pandemic continues to provide a challenging environment for many tourism and hospitality businesses, but Kent is well placed to cope and recover quickly.  Going forward, our marketing strategy will focus on growing the quality and range of experiences to encourage visitors to spend more with local businesses and increase the number of overnight stays - our aim is to return to pre-Covid visitor spending levels by 2023.

A key part of our strategy to grow the visitor economy in Kent is also the creation and provision of larger scale venues to grow the meetings and conferences sector.

“It is vital therefore that we can provide quality accommodation at all levels and the results from our research show that there are clear growth hotspots across the county.  These present a clear opportunity for developers to address the lack of quality serviced accommodation, higher capacity properties and provision in rural locations in Kent.”

Gavin Cleary, Chief Executive Officer, Locate in Kent, said: “As we move forward from the pandemic, it is more important than ever to identify new opportunities to support investment in the region. Kent is still amongst the best-connected places in the UK, in close proximity to London and Europe and with an exciting offer for leisure and business visitors alike.

“As we look to the future, having high quality hotel accommodation in strategic locations across the county will not only support recovery in the tourism sector, it will bolster local businesses, supply chains and job creation.”

Visit Kent will be showcasing all the county has to offer, including information on key sites and opportunities at AHC 2020.  Deirdre Wells, Chief Executive, Go To Places will also be taking part in a panel discussion at the conference at 12pm on Thursday 8 October titled: Re-Thinking Hospitality to Shape a New Normal with Hubert Viriot, CEO, YOTEL and Peter Hancock, CEO, Pride of Britain Hotels.

A copy of the research Executive Summary can be downloaded here and for more information about Kent, please visit  


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