A HS1 train pulls into a station in Kent

Kent reaps the rewards of HS1

Research shows HS1 added £72m to the Kent economy in 2016 as leisure journeys increased nine-fold.

The economic impact that High Speed 1 (HS1) – the line running from St. Pancras to the Channel Tunnel – has had on Kent’s tourism economy has been revealed for the first time in a new report.

Independently produced by Visit Kent and tourism economists Destination Research Ltd. to mark the 10-year anniversary of the line, the report reveals the rapid growth in leisure journeys.

Since 2010, leisure journeys to Kent via HS1 have increased almost nine-fold, from 100,000 in 2010 to 890,000 in 2016, and that the total economic impact of HS1 on the visitor economy in 2016 alone is valued at £72.7m. 

Total direct expenditure by visitors using HS1 during 2016 was approximately £56.5m, with an additional indirect expenditure of approximately £16.9m. For every HS1 leisure journey made to Kent in 2016, £81.65 was added to its local economy.

Since 2010, HS1’s activity led to the creation and support of 5,766 tourism sector jobs in Kent. The total economic contribution to Kent’s visitor economy since domestic HS1 services began is estimated at over £311m.

Almost three quarters (73%) of tourism businesses in Kent believe that leisure tourism in the county has increased as a result of HS1. Over half (54%) believe that HS1 has specifically benefitted their own business. 94% of these tourism businesses said that they had benefited because of HS1’s high speed connections, with 80% saying that HS1 has helped attract visitors from further afield.

Almost a third (30%) of tourists said they were influenced in their decision to visit Kent by the presence of the HS1 service. Almost half (47%) of all visitors to Kent who travelled by rail did so via the HS1 service.

Dyan Crowther, CEO of HS1 Ltd, the company that owns and operates HS1, said: “Growth in the number of passengers using the line is well-documented, but this report shines a light on the role HS1 is playing in supporting Kent’s tourism economy.

“While the line is more frequently used by commuters, it is clear that it has played a huge role in making Kent one of the most popular destinations in the country and Europe.

“HS1 is still a young line and what has been achieved to date has been done in a relatively short period of time and we are excited about its impact growing in the coming years.”

The findings demonstrate further the remarkable growth of Kent’s visitor economy, the value of which has increased by £1bn since 2003. Kent’s visitor economy is now worth £3.6bn, with the county welcoming more than 60 million visitors in 2015.

Jonathan Neame, chairman of the Kent’s destination management organisation Visit Kent, said: “We were pleased to produce this report in partnership with HS1, and to be able to clearly show the direct value of leisure journeys on the wider economy.

“HS1 and the availability of high speed rail connections to London has played a huge role in our county’s growth, as our tourism businesses have said themselves. Many organisations continue to work together to create a single strategy for tourism that helps stimulate ongoing investment in transport, accommodation and attractions so that Kent’s visitor economy continues to thrive.”

The research was conducted over a four-month period, using train path statistics as well as data gathered from tourists and Kent businesses, to understand the true impact of HS1 on the visitor economy.