Urgent Telephone Weekends : 01233 331111

Ashford Borough Council secures UKSPF funding for new Visitor Economy project

Published: 02/10/2023
Wine and charcuterie board

Ashford Borough Council is delighted to announce that it has secured £50,000 of UK Shared Prosperity Funding (UKSPF) to benefit the borough’s visitor economy and hospitality businesses.

The Ashford borough is well known for its locally produced food and drink, as well as its rapidly growing wine industry with vineyards including Biddenden Vineyards, Chapel Down and Gusbourne among others, all attracting large numbers of visitors every year. This new project looks to support and further grow this important sector whilst also supporting the wider visitor economy by working with accommodation providers, visitor attractions and experiences to build an even stronger tourism offering within the borough.

There are three strands to the project; a product and experience development programme that will work with both existing businesses and entrepreneurs who have ideas to create new and unique experiences for those visiting the borough; a new digital wine trail and a marketing campaign to promote Ashford and Tenterden being at the heart of the Kent wine destination. 

We are really pleased to announce that Visit Kent, who as a Local Visitor Economy Partnership (LVEP) are the County’s official Destination Management Organisation, will be delivering the project after taking part in a competitive tendering process.

Visit Kent will be launching the first part of the project, On the Map: Ashford and Tenterden’s Visitor Economy Programme, which is aimed at working with businesses and entrepreneurs on new visitor experience concepts, on Monday 2 October 2023!

Cllr Heather Hayward, Portfolio Holder for Performance and Direction at Ashford Borough Council says: “I am thrilled to see this ambitious project launch which will have benefits for the whole of Ashford borough. Ashford is Open for Business, and supporting our visitor economy and hospitality businesses is a hugely important part of that. 

"This is the perfect opportunity for Ashford Borough Council to help build upon what is already a very well-established industry – food and drink – and elevate it to really put Ashford and Tenterden “on the map”.

“With the funding from UKSPF and Visit Kent in the driving seat for the project, we cannot wait to see the creative and innovative proposals that established and aspirational business owners in the borough will bring to the project and how they will further grow Ashford and Tenterden’s reputation as being at the heart of Kent’s wine tourism offer.”

Deirdre Wells OBE, CEO of Visit Kent says: “We know that visitors from within the county and further afield are increasingly looking for authentic, local and unique experiences and this new funding will help to deliver just that.  This part of Kent already has a reputation for its fantastic vineyards and delicious cuisine but the tourism industry is a competitive business and we have to keep innovating and diversifying.

"Earlier this year, we finished a major three year Interreg project which enabled us to develop and bring to market over 300 new experiences for visitors in the county.  The lessons we learnt from this programme will be invaluable during this project and we can’t wait to get started.”

If you are interested in taking part, please visit On the Map to learn more about the project and to register your interest.