Last month I invited Shadow Tourism Minister Tobias Ellwood to come to Folkestone to meet with leading figures in the local tourism industry.
Tourism is the fourth largest industry in the UK and is particuarly important to the eocnomy in Folkestone and across Shepway. We are both an area that attracts tourists and vistors, as well as one that is home to international tourism businesses like Saga, Holiday Extras and Eurotunnel.
But what worked in tourism in the past, may not work in the future. The Olympic games in London in 2012 could give local tourism a massive boost, but we must make sure we are ready to make the most of it. New attractions like food tourism in the rural economy and on the coast, and the development of the Creative Foundation in Folkestone and the regeneration of the harbour are going to be important to attract visitors in the future.
We also need to make sure that we are doing the best we can to market and showcase the very best that the area has to offer.
The people in the photo are [left to right) Damian Collins (Parliamentary Candidate), Ann Berry (Go Folkestone), Tobias Ellwood MP (Shadow Minister for Tourism), Fran Warrington (Visit Kent), John Williams (Chairman, Tourism South East), Michael Bedingfield (Chief Executive, Tourism South East), Sandra Matthews-Marsh (Chief Executive, Visit Kent), Chris Kirkham (Discover Folkestone), Sonia Limbrick (Eurotunnel)