Published: 09:15, 13 September 2017
High speed rail services added £72.7 million to the Kent economy last year, according to new research.
More than half of tourism firms in Kent believe HS1, the company which operates high speed trains in the county, has benefitted their business.
Nearly 6,000 jobs in the sector have been created and supported by the rail line in the last seven years, said a study by tourism agency Visit Kent and economists Destination Research.
Leisure journeys to the county have increased nearly nine-fold since 2010 from 100,000 to 890,000 last year.
The study, conducted over a four-month period, was commissioned to mark the 10th anniversary of HS1, which launched in November 2007.
It is estimated its total economic contribution to the county’s visitor economy since then is about £311 million.
The line – which runs from London St Pancras to the Channel Tunnel and across Kent – is thought to have brought £81.65 to the county’s economy for every leisure journey made.
Dyan Crowther, chief executive of HS1 Ltd, which owns and operates high speed services, said: “Growth in the number of passengers using the line is well-documented, but this report shines a light on the role HS1 is playing in supporting Kent’s tourism economy.
“While the line is more frequently used by commuters, it is clear that it has played a huge role in making Kent one of the most popular destinations in the country and Europe.
“HS1 is still a young line and what has been achieved to date has been done in a relatively short period of time and we are excited about its impact growing in the coming years.”
Almost three quarters (73%) of tourism businesses in Kent believe that leisure tourism in the county has increased as a result of HS1.
Meanwhile, nearly a third (30%) of tourists said they were influenced in their decision to visit Kent by the presence of the HS1 service. Almost half (47%) of all visitors to Kent who travelled by rail did so via the HS1 service.
Jonathan Neame, chairman of Visit Kent, said: “HS1 and the availability of high speed rail connections to London has played a huge role in our county’s growth, as our tourism businesses have said themselves.
“Many organisations continue to work together to create a single strategy for tourism that helps stimulate ongoing investment in transport, accommodation and attractions so that Kent’s visitor economy continues to thrive.”
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