Sunday, 21 June 2009


The weather held out for the Big Event this weekend. More of Tony Flaig's photo's here. I was sad to see that Thanet Council was unable to promote the event properly. I also would like to know how much staff time goes into the event. I suspect that the real cost of the event to the Council is well over £100,000 if properly costed. When discussing this with local people the most consistent view is that an effort for one weekend is great, but we need sustainable repeat tourism to help the local economy based on Thanet's natural assets. A former Conservative Thanet councillor Paul Conyers-Silverthorn has written an open letter making some useful points. I didn't recieve this or his previous letter, but Steve Ladyman MP has forwarded it to me. I hope Paul gets a better response this time.

"Second Open letter re Tourism in Thanet - 17 June 2009

In the three months since my first open letter of 16 March 2009 I have received many supportive e-mails and phone calls. I have also consulted with business contacts from a variety of disciplines and I have been able to formulate a view on how tourism is supported in Thanet:

1. Our councillors don't seem to have the passion to push for a more structured strategy for tourism or to embrace the vital tactics needed to improve the yield from tourism in terms of cash flowing into the local economy. Or perhaps they still do not realise the economic importance of tourism.

2. In the absence of significant informed input from elected members, officers at both district and county levels cannot and do not give of their best. The consultation draft of Thanetvision 2030 sported some vain hopes, the achievement of which must build from a secure baseline, needing action now to encourage the right sort of input.

3. I have counted 18 relevant separate organisations promoting tourism, each of which has a small marketing budget at its disposal. There may be more.

I have not counted individual commercial interests, which wield further budgets. Only three or four of them seem to have any liaison. The Isle of Thanet Tourist Association is ineffective and introverted. Some larger organisations are de facto not focused on Thanet.

4. No apparent effort is made to capitalise in the ultra-short term on the wide variety of press coverage the area has enjoyed over the past three months. Things have just happened, blank minds have looked on, opportunities have elapsed.

5. A few weeks ago Plain Jane in the IOTG pointed up the dire neglect of the provision of facilities for our visitors. Is anyone listening, even to her?

I doubt it. The first open letter from me elicited more than a hundred responses. Only one of them was from an elected member, and that was an MP, not a councillor... In my last letter I supported TDC as the vehicle for action. Not any more.

6. A business colleague provided the most telling remark of the exercise: '

No matter what you do, the great apathy will win. In trying to book a group for July I came up against such ignorance and lack of interest that I could only assume poor training to be the cause - there was clearly plenty of availability, which there shouldn't be at that time of year. '

7. Summer is here and nothing much has happened. It's too late to do much now for 2009 but it's vital that, somehow, a greater concerted effort is achieved for the future promotion of tourism to Thanet.

Like many people who've spoken to me in the last three months I'm not prepared to let apathy win. It has been shown that pressure can achieve results. Ramsgate Maritime Museum will re-open. Crampton Tower has been saved. Northdown House hasn't been dumped."

I call upon all of you to think about this carefully and e-mail to me some comment to show whether or not you feel you could join and take part in a co-operative for the promotion of Thanet tourism. Twenty years ago the East Kent Tourism Development Action Programme united many interests into a strong organisation which did what it said on the tin. Maybe now it's time to resurrect the concept, but only for Thanet. As one of the founder members of the TDAP I would happily give my time to coordinate such an endeavour. I hope that I'm not the last voice prepared to be raised and to be heard.

The only elected member to respond previously was Steve Ladyman. I'll be happy to pass on Paul's contact details if you get in touch with me.
UPDATE 27.6.09
Paul Conyers-Silverthorn emails to add

Whilst I totally understand that you need to make political points, I do stand as an independent mind and have eschewed politics for the past 15 years. My party is the "Let's Make Thanet Hum" party, if you would like to categorise it!


  1. Public toilets closed, rubbish lying stinking in the streets, uncared for public areas, no tourism strategy (I don't include the Turner centre as being a 'tourism strategy'),museums still closed, tourist inofrmation centres hidden away or only manned from time to time ...I could go on. Does anyone care apart from a few?

    My son and family have just had a fantastic short break in Blackpool and couldn't praise the place high enough. Could many visitors coming here say the same? How many out-of-towners were at the Big Event when it hardly seemed advertised anywhere other than in the local press? Did they spend money or was it a case of picnics from home and then off as soon as the flights were over? Was anyone there handing out information about holidays in the area?

  2. Its often been said the current leadership only promote things where they or their cronies have some self-interest, they do nothing else, unless they have an input they arent interested, they do nothing to help local entrepreneurs not connected to themselves, it's a depressing fact but sadly true.
    They are not in politics for the good of the local community - fact Sandy Ezekiel came into politics from the Foreness action committee what has he done to stop water pollution at Manston - support china gateway?

  3. I met two people today who'd been and the comments were

    1) parking or lack of it. people had to walk from some distance away with children/elderly in tow.

    2) prices were outrageous for the funfair and things on sale.

    3) general lack of forward planning. Bus queues were enormous etc.

    Impression by these disaffected people? Won't go again.

  4. montgomery mole22 June 2009 at 21:21

    Of course we could have a muesli eating contest, followed by a 'whose got the best sandels' and then a who looks more like a dork on a bike competition. That would attract some sad muppets wouldn't it?

  5. 11.04 Funfair prices were in line with prices anywhere and if you had people that couldnt walk drop them off and go and park I know its a pain but you cant suddenly make 10000 parking spaces for a two day event I thought it all went well.

  6. No, but the roads were closed off so what were people supposed to do?

    I heard of families with young children who ended up having to carry them from the car a mile to Palm bay. Do you think they'll go back?

  7. They should've brought buggys / pushchairs along with them...