Kent's Heritage Coast Recognised As One Of The World's Best Regions To Visit
Kent celebrates international acclaim this week, after the county was placed number four on a list of the world’s best regions to visit in 2022 by Lonely Planet.
This announcement forms part of the global travel authority’s release of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2022, which unveils its top 10 countries, cities, and regions to visit next year. The county of Kent, often referred to as The Garden of England, is the only UK destination to feature within this year’s illustrious round-up with a particular focus on Kent’s Heritage Coast.
Kent’s Heritage Coast, part of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), was praised for its commitment to sustainable tourism initiatives, combined with the regeneration of the historic town of Dover, Creative Folkestone, and plans to establish a UNESCO Global Geopark recognised within the region’s entry.
The publisher also highlighted Kent’s involvement in two Interreg funded projects; the EXPERIENCE project, which supports local tourism and hospitality businesses in developing new, low-environmental impact, year-round tourism experiences including accessibility improvements in the Kent countryside. In addition, the UNESCO Sites Across the Channel project aims to boost sustainable development and inclusion through seeking UNESCO designation.
Best in Travel 2022 is Lonely Planet’s 17th annual collection of the world’s hottest destinations and the must-have travel experiences for the year ahead. Nominations are received from Lonely Planet’s vast community of staff, writers, and publishing partners, before being whittled down by a panel of travel experts. Each destination is chosen for its topicality, unique experiences, ‘wow’ factor, and ongoing commitment to sustainable tourism practices.
Deirdre Wells OBE, Visit Kent Chief Executive, said: “We are incredibly excited and hugely honoured to see Kent’s Heritage Coast cited as one of Lonely Planet’s best travel destinations for 2022. This stretch of our glorious county is home to sandy beaches and iconic chalk faces, alongside thriving cultural hotspots and an exciting, rolling programme of events.
“Our ongoing work with Kent’s tourism businesses and colleagues at the Kent Downs AONB - as part of the Interreg EXPERIENCE project - has allowed us to develop a host of brand-new products for market, which support our destination’s green recovery following the significant effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. We are continuing to strive for new, low-impact ways that visitors can experience the Garden of England in-line with changes in consumer demand, and ultimately look forward to welcoming visitors to enjoy Kent’s Heritage Coast first-hand in 2022 and beyond.”
Nick Johannsen FLI, Director of the Kent Downs AONB Unit said: “We are absolutely delighted that Kent’s Heritage Coast has been recognised globally and are honoured that this part of Kent is flying the flag for sustainable tourism in the UK. This is a real testament to the beauty of our landscape and a reminder of how important it is to tread lightly as we enjoy the countryside and coastline.
“Our team and partnership are dedicated to promoting careful, inclusive, sustainable tourism so that the visitor economy benefits us all, our businesses, our visitors, our communities, and the extraordinary landscapes we are here to conserve and enhance. The Lonely Planet’s recognition of the landscape and our work is just so important and empowers us to have even greater ambition.
“Kent’s Heritage Coast is well connected by train, including the high-speed link to London, and we encourage people to travel sustainably and think of taking slow ways, like walking or cycling. Explore hidden gems away from the crowds, particularly during the beautiful off-season in Autumn and Winter, and join authentic experiences with local experts knowing that by visiting responsibly you’re helping to support the landscape and local economy.”
Lonely Planet’s VP of Experience Tom Hall commented: ‘Over the last year we have truly come to appreciate the beauty on our doorstep and the need to travel more responsibly. Kent’s Heritage Coast offers a unique combination of history, heritage, stunning and iconic natural landscapes and is now a leader in sustainable tourism initiatives. Already recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the county is implementing ambitious plans to establish a Global Geo Park, has created a crosschannel collaboration with regions in France to protect shared nature and heritage as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as developing community projects to benefit locals and visitors alike. It is this forward-thinking approach and commitment to regenerative tourism that has rated the region so highly in this year’s Best in Travel list.”
This latest accolade comes at a particularly pertinent time as Kent’s tourism and hospitality sector, worth £4.1 billion to the local economy pre-pandemic, works to rebuild a vibrant and resilient industry for the future.
Visit Kent, the county’s official destination management organisation, will shortly be launching a partnership with AccessAble to continue to improve accessibility across the county. This, along with plans to launch a sustainability pledge encouraging consumers to make small changes whilst visiting the destination, are two examples of the ongoing commitment from Kent’s tourism and hospitality industry to ensure that visitors receive a welcoming, inclusive, and enjoyable experience, whilst ensuring that travellers have a positive impact for the future.
The Kent Downs AONB are supporting new Changing Places toilets in Kent Country Parks so that severely disabled people, their carers, and their families are able to enjoy a day out in the Kent countryside, confident in the knowledge that there is a toilet nearby that will meet their needs. This is part of an ongoing commitment to understanding and addressing the barriers to accessing the countryside and supporting greater inclusion in access so that more people can enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits of nature. The new toilets are funded by the EXPERIENCE project.
The Kent Downs AONB will soon launch new bookable sustainable rural tourism experiences and itineraries on their website for visitors to explore wellbeing in nature, delicious food and drink, outdoor adventures, transformative pilgrimage, relaxing tranquillity, family fun, and everything in between.
Posted on 28/10/2021