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I think it was a mistake to remove Herne Bay's dedicated Visitor Information Centre. Tourism caused our town to be built in the first place, and has been the mainstay of our micro-economy for decades. A thriving local tourism industry will be a more effective engine of regeneration than a new supermarket.

I was pottering around Canterbury in mid-May and popped into their Information Centre out of curiousity. This was when I found the solitary sheet of A4 promoting Herne Bay - click the little version on the left to see a more legible version. I was not impressed. When I got back to Herne Bay, I had a look at the tourist information locations, and wasn't encouraged. So I started harrumphing to the local rags...

Tourism in Herne Bay

I think it was a mistake to remove Herne Bay’s dedicated Visitor Information Centre. Tourism caused our town to be built in the first place, and has been the mainstay of our micro-economy for decades. A thriving local tourism industry will be a more effective engine of regeneration than a new supermarket.

I was pottering around Canterbury in mid-May and popped into their Information Centre out of curiousity. This was when I found the solitary sheet of A4 promoting Herne Bay – click the little version on the left to see a more legible version. I was not impressed. When I got back to Herne Bay, I had a look at the tourist information locations, and wasn’t encouraged. So I started harrumphing to the local rags…


Dear Sir,

Many in Herne Bay fondly remember the days when we had a Visitor Information Centre, staffed by friendly, helpful and knowledgable people who spent each working day promoting our town and its attractions. When the Council closed the VIC, we were told that brochure stands, touchscreens and Canterbury City’s own tourist centre would adequately fill the gap.

Now that we are at the beginning of summer, and the tourist season is starting, you might expect visitors to be able to find plenty of promotional material and information. Prepare to be disappointed – very disappointed!

The brochures in Makcari’s mostly promote Canterbury.

Of the eighty or so brochures on display in the Council Offices, just three promote Herne Bay’s attractions.

The touchscreens in Makcari’s and inside the Council Offices take you to the Canterbury Tourist site – the only place you can click on the words “Herne Bay” is tucked away right at the bottom of the page, not even visible unless you scroll down.

The touchscreen outside the Council Offices is even worse. You click on a category, in the hope of finding something about Herne Bay…

Accommodation: 3 in Herne Bay, 6 in Whitstable, and 44 that aren’t even in CCC’s patch – they’re in Thanet;

Attractions: 9 in Herne Bay, 8 in Whitstable, 36 in Canterbury, 45 in Thanet, 1 in Ashford and a couple in Faversham;

Food & Drink: on the first half a dozen screens, 9 in Herne Bay, 18 in Whitstable and 20 in Thanet;

and so it goes on.

In the Canterbury Tourist Information, they have wall after wall covered in stands of brochures, many of them promoting places that aren’t even in the Council’s area: Margate, Dover, Deal, Sandwich, Broadstairs, Romney, Hythe, Tonbridge, Medway, Tunbridge Wells, Tenterden, Faversham, Folkestone, Chatham. What do they have promoting Herne Bay? One piece of A4.

The tourist information in our town is directing people away from our town. After closing our VIC, all Canterbury has on show to encourage people to come to our town is one piece of paper.

Canterbury City Council’s betrayal and neglect of our town is shameful and sickening.

Yours etc.

HB Times 16th June 2011


Our attractions “being left off tourism trail”

The promotion of Herne Bay in Canterbury’s tourism centre is covered by just ONE sheet of A4 paper, it has been claimed. Bay campaigner Phil Rose also says his detailed research has uncovered a measly three brochures advertising Herne Bay attractions in the town’s own council offices – out of more than 80 on display.

The news has sparked a scathing attack on the council, which has been accused of neglecting the town in favour of Canterbury and even areas outside the district. Mr Rose, of Beacon Hill, Herne Bay, says promises made when the town’s Visitor Information Centre (VIC) closed in 2008 have not been kept. He said:

“Many in the town fondly remember the days when we had a VIC, staffed by friendly, helpful and knowledgeable people who spent each working day promoting our town and its attractions. When the council closed the VIC, we were told that brochure stands, touch screens and Canterbury city’s own tourist centre would adequately fill the gap. Now that we are at the beginning of summer, and the tourist season is starting, you might expect visitors to be able to find plenty of promotional material and information. But the tourist information in our town is directing people away from our town. After closing our VIC, all Canterbury has on show to encourage people to come to Herne Bay is one piece of paper. The council’s betrayal and neglect of our town is shameful and sickening.”

Mr Rose said his research revealed the majority of brochures at Makcari’s – the site of the old VIC – promote Canterbury. He also claims a touch screen outside the council offices pro motes just nine attractions in Herne Bay, but 36 in Canterbury and 45 in Thanet.

HB Gazette 16th June 2011 Joe Walker joewalker@thekmqroup.co.uk


Leaflet racks are replenished reqularly and should include guides to each town

Council spokesman Rob Davies described the promotion of Herne Bay as a visitor destination as a “priority”. He said:

“Producing and displaying leaflets is just one of many ways in which we do this. Information is provided across a number of locations in Herne Bay and across the district. Leaflet racks are replenished regularly and should include guides for each town, including our coastal guide in which Herne Bay features prominently. Herne Bay is also actively promoted through the Visit Canterbury website, which is the main portal for visitors seeking information on the district and things to do when they are here. The touch screens do feature information about Thanet, but the screens in Thanet feature information about our district in return. We review our tourism information regularly to ensure we are providing the best service, but we will of course look at Mr Rose’s comments to see if there are things we are missing.”

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  1. A Herne Bay Resident has produced an excellent promotional video of Herne Bay. This he says costs nothing but 6 hours of his time. something the CCC tourism have failed miserably to do. Perhaps you could send a copy to Rob Davies.Did he ever reply in response to your most prudent comments?????Herne Bay see you soon link:

  2. Thank you for your letter of 28 March to John Penrose about Herne Bay and the closure of the Visitor Information Centre. I have been asked to reply. As you may know most Visitor Information Centres are controlled by local authorities who are free to make decisions as to whether to close such discretionary services or not, and many local authorities are reviewing the range of services they provide in light of budget cuts and they have to make difficult decisions about funding priorities. We do appreciate the views expressed as to the benefits of such centres, however, in the current tight financial circumstances it is inevitable that some centres will have to close to save costs, and it is a decision that must be made locally. We do however, where possible, urge local authorities to explore what other solutions might be available in such circumstances, for example the possibility of looking into private-public sector partnerships. The relocation of tourist information provision at one stop shops, alongside information on other services, within civic centres and public libraries has worked well within other localities, and this can also be an alternative solution to the total loss of the service. For information, you may know that there are good on-line travel information services provided through visitbritain.com , VisitEngland (http://www.enjoyengland.com/), and other destination websites. The VisitBritainShop.com is also a well-used resource for travel and tourism products across the country: from travel and transport tickets to theatre and attraction tickets. We would be unable to comment on the particular issues you raise about your District Council that you are not happy about, however, for general advice on this you may consider contacting the Department for Communities and Local Government, who set policy on supporting local government, communities and neighbourhoods. Kind regards Matthew Smith Ministerial Support Team Department for Culture, Media & Sport 2-4 Cockspur Street | London | SW1Y 5DH http://www.culture.gov.uk