March 3, 2021

Kent marathon idea considered as county council seeks ways to tackle devastation caused by coronavirus pandemic on tourism

Runners from across the UK and abroad could come to Kent for its own brand new marathon, if new recommendations are accepted.

The idea of an international marathon held in the county is to be suggested at a Kent County Council (KCC) meeting tomorrow.

Runners in Medway braved the conditions and completed the marathon on Sunday
Runners in Medway braved the conditions and completed the marathon on Sunday

Thousands of fitness fanatics ran their own marathons around their home towns yesterday after Covid-19 restrictions meant only the elite runners could do the London Marathon in the capital.

But under these new recommendations, runners in Kent could have somewhere closer to home to complete a 26.2-mile course.

The recommendation in KCC’s visitor economy report said: “KCC should promote the establishment of a regularly-occurring international marathon which involves neighbouring countries across the Channel.

“This event would cement international relationships and provide an additional platform to advertise Kent, as well as promoting the benefits of sport and fitness.”

It is one of 11 recommendations in the 31-page document, drawn up to consider what actions to take in light of the impact of coronavirus on the county’s visitor economy.

Runners taking part in this year's Dartford Half Marathon - but could an international-standard marathon be staged in Kent? Picture: Ken Mears
Runners taking part in this year’s Dartford Half Marathon – but could an international-standard marathon be staged in Kent? Picture: Ken Mears

Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, Kent attracted 65 million visitors a year in an industry worth £3.8 billion to the economy and supporting 77,000 jobs.

Since the pandemic, a massive 89% of businesses in the hospitality sector have either closed permanently or temporarily, says the report.

They account for a third of all job losses and have reported the most redundancies.

The report paints a bleak picture, saying: “While measures such as business rates relief, tourism and hospitality grants, and the CJRS (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) have been a lifeline for businesses, local firms in the visitor economy are still low on cash reserves and there is a high risk that many of them may not survive the winter.”

Sheppey's London Marathon virtual runners John and Steph Gill on the seafront at Sheerness
Sheppey’s London Marathon virtual runners John and Steph Gill on the seafront at Sheerness

Other ideas to boost the sector include:

– highlighting the message that Kent is a safe and attractive place to visit

– considering the use of TV advertising to attract people to Kent

– KCC to work with others on regenerating high streets

– the development of a ‘destination pitch’ to persuade skilled workers to live in the county

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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