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22 May 2024: A reception at The House of Commons last night organised by tourist board Visit Kent and hosted by Damian Collins MP saw tourism and transport bosses from the county call for the implementation of several key policies in order to deliver smart, seamless and sustainable travel for visitors and residents to, from and within Kent. 

 These include: 

  • An urgent return of international train services at Ashford and Ebbsfleet.   New research currently being conducted by Kent County Council (and revealed at the reception) suggests that if international services were not reinstated in the county until 2040, the cost to the Kent economy could be as much as £75 million, 30,000 jobs would be affected and an estimated £16.5 million per year spent on unnecessary travel by residents and visitors. 
  • The smooth implementation of the EU’s new Entry/Exit System due to start this Autumn 
  • Regulatory and financial support for a substantial shoreside clean power supply in order to help support the decarbonisation of ferry travel on the Dover route which currently contributes around 8% to maritime carbon emissions in the UK (Source: Climate Change Committee, Sixth Carbon Budget 2018) 
  • Digitisation of travel systems in the county in order to help improve traffic flow and resilience in the transport system 

CEO of Visit Kent Deirdre Wells OBE said: “We know that there is a very strong appetite amongst international visitors to come to Kent and we need to make the experience of travelling here as easy as possible. One of the ways we could do this would be to reinstate our international rail connections as their loss is already leading to fewer visitors and less money flowing into the local economy.  I urge the current and future Government to work with Eurostar and explore what options are feasible to provide greater resilience in our transport system by using the facilities at Ashford and Ebbsfleet. 

“We are proud of the role that Kent plays as a leading UK gateway.   Investing in a world-class port, road and rail network is critical if we are to continue to grow prosperity in the Garden of England”. 

Doug Bannister, CEO of The Port of Dover said: “We have a fantastic opportunity to make Kent and the Short Straits the jewel in the nation’s crown once again with the right investment and support.  We have some critical issues to overcome, not least the EU Entry Exit System in the short term and climate change.  But with the right collaboration between industry and government we can ensure we have the tools to deliver the smartest, most seamless and sustainable travel long into the future, supporting the economy of Kent and the nation as a whole.” 

John Keefe, Chief Corporate and Public Affairs Officer, Getlink Group said: “Kent is rightly recognised as one of the most beautiful locations in England to visit. Its coasts, countryside, history and food and drink offer are a match for anywhere in the world. As the main route for inbound tourists from the continent, Eurotunnel will ensure that, even as borders become more complex, travel into and out of the county will continue to be easy and fast moving. Major investments in border technology mean that traffic will flow through our terminals smoothly and efficiently, without additional queuing time. Smart borders mean smooth travel and open roads for everyone”. 

Derek Murphy, Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Kent County Council said: “We are working with Visit Kent on our shared concern about the loss of international rail services. It is important for Kent’s economy that we see this connectivity return so that businesses and attractions can benefit again from visitors seeking to enjoy all that Kent has to offer. 

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Notes to Editors 

Eurostar Services in Kent 

Until the outbreak of the covid pandemic in March 2020, Eurostar services had stopped at the two stations for over 24 years which encouraged many businesses to relocate to these areas due to the easy connectivity to France and the wider European Union.  The international stations also helped to provide quick access for international visitors to explore key visitor attractions in Kent such as Canterbury Cathedral, Kent’s heritage coast and some of the most internationally recognised vineyards in the UK. 


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