The effect of tourism on Thanet employment

Margate Main Sands on a Summer’s day

If you have lived in Thanet for a long time, you will have noticed that tourism is (once again) changing the face of the area.

In 2017, the Sunday Times voted Margate as the best town beach in the UK, saying it had ‘resurfaced as the UK’s hippest resort’ and it seems that each year there are more people descending on the beaches and attractions the area has to offer.

Across the UK, 11% of people are employed in tourism. In Thanet that number jumps to an astonishing 19%, almost one in five.

Tourism is big business in Thanet and it clearly brings in jobs. But what is the overall value of tourism and can it continue to bring jobs to the area?

The value of tourism

In 2017, the annual value of Thanet’s tourism industry reached £319mn, up 9.2%. The national average increase is 0.8%, so you can see that the industry is booming (all statistics sourced from Destination Research).

34% of the income generated is spent on retail (day trips are still by far the largest income generator) and 27% is spent of food & drink. Surprisingly, just 11% is spent on hotels and accommodation which again shows the importance of the ‘day tripper’.

Creation of jobs

The high streets of Ramsgate, Broadstairs and Margate have changed a lot in recent years with traditional retail outlets now centralised at Westwood Cross.

New businesses are thriving in the older buildings around Thanet

Like many towns, the high streets have suffered, but there has been a recent resurgence of independent shops, restaurants and bars with more opening each month.

With 61% of the overall tourism spend being on retail, food and drink, it has created a number of new jobs and we have seen particular growth in the demand for chefs, bar staff and temporary event staff.

In addition to tourists, Thanet also has a number of English Language Schools that create opportunities for both teachers and retail outlets. Summer schools and courses add to the number of people visiting the area during the summer peak and an amazing 55% of the overseas spend in Thanet is directly from students (Source: Destination Research).

The future of Thanet tourism

The Turner Prize 2019, the Coastal Communities Fund, the Margate Caves, faster trains (although the rollout has been delayed), hotel expansions and a host of new events, festivals and gigs.

It seems that the future is bright for Thanet as a tourism hub.

Of course, Brexit may bring a host of challenges and new opportunities depending on what happens next.

If barriers are put up for UK passport holders (visa fees or longer queues at the airports) then it could drive more domestic tourism at the expense of overseas visitors.

Given that overseas visitors make up over half of the total ‘tourist nights’ spent in the area, Brexit could negatively impact local tourism. If the rules around overseas students change that could also be a major loss to the area.

But day trippers still make up the majority of the overall spend (even though they do not spend anything on accommodation), so there are clearly opportunities if more people from the UK choose to stay local. With Thanet being so closely connected to London, we could see even more people choosing a day trip rather than an extended stay.

The future of Thanet employment

With such high employment figures across the UK, we believe that tourism could help to provide new and exciting job opportunities across Thanet.

Having seen how busy the recent Easter Weekend was, we’re confident that Thanet has a huge future as a tourist hub and we would not be surprised to see an increase on the current rate of 19% employment in the tourism industry.

In our experience, the biggest seasonal demands in Thanet are for temporary chefs and bar staff. But we are also seeing more roles for venue managers, centre managers, hotel staff, cleaners, shop assistants and event staff.

Tourism brings all types of jobs – long may the growth continue.

Chris Woodward

Former Marketing & Communications Executive at Morgan Jones Recruitment Consultants
Chris started out his marketing career in event marketing, helping organise some of the country's biggest exhibitions and business fairs. Chris came to Morgan Jones in 2018 helping transform our marketing and brand.

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