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Gourmet plans to increase 'Garden of England' tourism

Chapel Down Winery Vine, Kent Credit: Visit Kent

Kent and Essex have been awarded a major government grant to attract more tourists to the counties.

Tourism teams have been working together to promote the areas' gardens and food producers in a new scheme called "Gardens and Gourmets". The money has been awarded by the Discover England Fund, set up to ensure England stays competitive in the rapidly growing tourism industry.

We are thrilled that our bid has been successful, and that we have the chance to start celebrating our and our partner regions’ outstanding international gardens, outdoor spaces, and local food and drink offers. Kent, The Garden of England, with its outstanding gardens, food and drink, inspires much of England’s identity, whilst our communities give our nation its heart and soul. England has more than 3,600 historic parks and gardens, and delicious local produce, and our goal is to inspire international visitors to go out and explore these regions by arming them with information that only locals would know."

– Sandra Matthews-Marsh MBE, Chief Executive, Visit Kent

Essex has many wonderful attractions including some remarkable gardens and outdoor spaces, and this will give us the opportunity to promote them whilst changing the perception of Essex. We look forward to working with partners within our own destination but also with other destinations from which I am sure we can learn a lot from.”

– Lisa Bone, Strategic Tourism Manager, Visit Essex

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Queen Mary 2 at home in Southampton after £90m refit

The Southampton liner the Queen Mary 2 arrived back into port today after her 90 million pounds re-fit. It was the biggest upgrade of a cruise ship in history and has taken 2,500 workers in Germany 25 days to complete.

She has been re-painted and there are new cabins for people and pets. The famous ship is only home in Hampshire for one day before she heads to New York. Our reporter Mike Pearse managed to get on board to have a look around before she sets sail.

Free entry - bold strategy to boost Dreamland figures

First day of free entry for Dreamland attraction in Kent

Margate's Dreamland attraction is celebrating its first birthday with the launch of a bold new business strategy. The vintage amusement park is scrapping admission charges to boost visitor numbers. Instead, fun seekers will pay for individual rides. Managers hope the move will rescue the site from financial crisis. John Ryall reports.

The interviewee is Eddie Kemsley, Dreamland's Chief Executive.

Day 1 of free entry at Margate's Dreamland attraction

Crowd gathers at gate for entry to Dreamland in Margate

Margate's Dreamland attraction has opens its gates for the first day of free-admission for visitors.

The vintage amusement park, which re-opened a year ago, hopes the move will rescue it from financial problems by boosting the site's disappointing visitor numbers.

Instead of paying an entry fee visitors will now pay for individual rides.

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Visitor numbers up in Oxford

The number of tourists visiting Oxford hit a new high last year Credit: ITV Meridian

The number of tourists visiting Oxfordshire soared last year according to new figures.

A total of 26.7 million visitors spent an estimated £1.8 billion in the county, according to the tourist authority Experience Oxfordshire. That's an increase of nearly 3% on the previous year.

Attractions including those connected with ITV series Midsomer Murders, Morse and Lewis, which all attract overseas visitors to locations in the county, helped boost the numbers.

The number of day trips increased as did the total of people staying in the county for one night, despite that figure dropping nationally.

Challenges ahead for Island's tourism after £330k loss

Tourism industry on the Isle of Wight faces challenges ahead

The Isle of Wight Council is trying to persuade local businesses to contribute financially towards promoting the island as a holiday destination.

It follows an announcement from the authority last week, announcing that it was stopping its grant of £330,000 to the 'Visit Isle of Wight consortium', in a bid to save taxpayers' money.

The news is a bitter blow to an industry which is reeling from the loss of two of its longest running attractions - the Fort Victoria Aquarium and the Seaview Wildlife Encounter both closed down two weeks ago. Dave Russell has our report.

The interviewees are: David Thornton, CEO of Visit Isle of Wight; and Cllr Jonathan Bacon, Isle of Wight Council Leader.

Margate gets on its bike to launch new rickshaw service

Now, hopefully the warmer weather's on its way in the next few months. So the tourist season will soon be upon us and businesses are gearing up all over the region for a bumper season.

In one Kent seaside resort they're already getting on their bikes to make sure it's a summer to remember. Andrea Thomas explains. She talked to rickshaw operator Geoff Spencer and cafe owner Jean Beswick.

  1. David Johns (@davidjohns_itv)

Margate: the Edge of Heaven?

Much has been done to promote tourism in Kent over the years but just as Gavin and Stacey did for Barry Island in Wales, it's thought a brand new sitcom could boost visitor numbers to our very own seaside hotspot - Margate.

ITV's "Edge of Heaven" is all about a bed-and-breakfast in the town. And despite some terrible weather during filming, it's hoped the show will help to promote the whole Thanet area to a new audience.

David Johns explains, talking to house owner David Mossman, property manager Kelly Whiting, shopkeeper Tracey Ruskin, runner Ian Lockyear, Councillor Iris Johnston from Thanet Council, and Film Liaison Officer Sharon Kelley.

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