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Visit Kent launches Kent arm of European tourism project to support SME growth and innovation

Visit Kent has today announced the launch of a new European tourism project to help empower small and medium businesses to be more innovative.

The project, PROFIT, aims to stimulate innovation and revenue growth in the tourism and leisure sectors within the 2 Seas region, which brings together the North Sea and the Channel coastal areas.

Visit Kent will lead on delivering the project to smaller leisure and tourism businesses serving the Kent coast and maritime destinations.

The project comprises two key elements. The first focuses on gaining an in-depth understanding of each participating destination’s DNA. This includes looking at the qualities and traits of each location, helping to crystallise the destination’s unique story.

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The second part of the project centres on providing smaller businesses with tools and training on how to access and interpret big data on visitor behaviour and patterns.

Sandra Matthews-Marsh MBE, chief executive of Visit Kent, said: “PROFIT provides a fantastic opportunity for smaller tourism businesses to access and interpret a large volume of data on visitors to their region in order to understand the customer narrative behind it.”

The data sources will include information from all participating businesses as well as statistics available from local and national government sources, project partners and the wider supply chain. This includes occupancy rates, footfall, customer reviews, social media engagement, event calendars and visitor profiles.

“This insight, which is normally the preserve of large organisations, is hugely valuable for businesses wanting to capitalise on emerging trends and opportunities. By offering a single point of access to these data sources, businesses can then make informed decisions on how to develop innovative products and services that will enable them to evolve and grow. Imagine a more powerful and effective, live version of our highly successful Business Barometer – this is what we are talking about.”

The three-year PROFIT project is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the Interreg 2 Seas programme, with a grant of €1.7 million (around £1.48m), for the eight participating organisations in France, Belgium, Netherlands and England, including Visit Kent. This includes €355,000 (£308,000), of secured funding for businesses in Kent.

Sandra added: “The first step in this three-year project will focus on the maritime area of Medway, where we are working with other PROFIT partners and local businesses to deliver a series of workshops. This will be used to develop a range of business tools, including a vibrant and dynamic personalised information dashboard, as well as further coaching and training sessions.”

Visit Kent will be extending the project to the rest of Kent during the next three years.

For further information on the PROFIT project, please visit www.visitkentbusiness.co.uk/home-avk/about-us/european-funding.

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