The tourist sector is a vital component of Canterbury’s economy. Its World Heritage Site status, medieval streets, museums, restaurants and cafés, festivals and cultural amenities, river and countryside bring around two million visitors a year to the city.
One issue which the Canterbury Society is concerned about is how the city can better harness its tourist potential. Despite the large numbers of visitors, the city ranks only 20th in the UK as measured by overnight stays. Many visitors see little more than the Cathedral. Key attractions such as the Heritage and Roman museums are forced to close during winter months from lack of visitors. We are addressing these issues by supporting the development of more hotels in the city so more visitors would stay in the city. We are also pressing the Council and local business to improve the city centre environment: more pedestrianisation, cleaning, attention to shop fronts, and so on. Lastly, we are working closely with Canterbury City Partnership, whose ‘whole city’ marketing strategy includes investment in events, increase in overnight stays, and implementing a ‘wayfinding’ strategy to help people discover more of Canterbury’s tourist attractions.
The other issue which the Canterbury is concerned about is managing the impacts of mass tourism on the city, particularly overcrowding, noise, litter and the profusion of tacky souvenir and gift shops. In this respect, we are pressing the Council to consider alternative coach parks close the Cathedral which reduce traffic along the river, the installation of more litter bins and toilets in the city centre, and tighter enforcement of planning controls over shops in the conservation area.