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Kent Organisations Set To Bolster The Hospitality Industry

Produced in Kent and Visit Kent have combined forces to bolster the hospitality industry in a campaign dubbed “Support Your Local”. The initiative aims to help businesses as they come out of lockdown, focussing on the county’s food and drink sector. With pubs, restaurants and food tourism attractions amongst the last establishments to open up with the easing of restrictions, many now face an uncertain future. Produced in Kent and Visit Kent, are proposing a county-wide community appeal and marketing campaign, set to run from July to December 2020, in support of these local, independent enterprises.

Produced in Kent, the voice of Kent food and drink, and Visit Kent, the destination management organisation for Kent, are teaming up during this difficult time. Both organisations have long worked to showcase the best of the Garden of England and are supporting local businesses across the county.  The new Support Your Local initiative will encourage customers to show their love for their favourite Kent food and drink businesses – and show their care for fellow diners too!   This initiative will provide a much-needed boost to Kent’s £2.6 billion visitor economy, which has been badly hit since the pandemic. Chapel Down‘s CEO Frazer Thompson commented: “Supporting your local community has never been more important. Money you spend in your community is the most effective way of generating wealth, happiness, engagement and employment where you live. So, come on. Try a taste of something wonderful, and help yourself to a better future!”

Chapel Down’s CEO Frazer Thompson.

Those wishing to support the campaign can make a Caring Customer Pledge to Kent’s local restaurants, pubs, cafes and hotels when they open. In doing so, patrons will be pledging their commitment to RespectProtect and Enjoy establishments as each one adapts to post-lockdown circumstances. Caring Customers can proudly display the #CaringCustomer badge on their social media and are actively encouraged to share their experiences on social media and leave online reviews, using the Caring Customer hashtag.

#CaringCustomer Badge

Since March, when lockdown commenced due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, operations in the hospitality industry have all but ceased. Although some businesses have been able to offer take-away services, most have had to stop trading altogether, furloughed all staff and sold off or donated their perishables. The financial consequences are, unfortunately, already evident, with some establishments having been boarded up and closed permanently. Fears continue to grow that, if the sector fails on a grand scale, it could affect tourism, as well as the food and drink suppliers to these businesses, for years to come.

Stuart Grant, Managing Director: Curd & Cure are proud to support Produced in Kent’s “Support Your Local” campaign.  “As a Kent-based wholesaler working with food-service outlets across the county, we have seen first-hand just how hard the whole industry is working behind the scenes to re-open over the coming weeks.  We have a rich food & drink offering within Kent and supporting your local pub, restaurant or café not only contributes to that business but many other local businesses they work with too, helping to boost our local economy”.

Supporting local businesses has never been more important, indeed more crucial, for the continued survival of Kent’s renowned and ever-exciting hospitality industry. By joining up to Produced in Kent and Visit Kent’s project, caring customers will not only be providing financial help to struggling food and drink venues, but also showing them that they are a staple of the community. That without them, the community wouldn’t be the same. Now more than ever, these enterprises are deserving of celebration as they strive to accommodate the demands of our changing times. Balancing stringent health and safety measures with customers’ enjoyment will, undoubtedly, prove to be challenging, but with the help of loyal patrons, they are guaranteed to rise to the occasion.

Further details about taking part in the Caring Customer Pledge, as well as an interactive map showing local suppliers and other useful information associated with the Support Your Local scheme, can be found on the HelpKentBuyLocal.co.uk website.

Federation of Small Businesses Kent Area Leader Deborah Turner says, “FSB is delighted to fully support Produced In Kent’s new Support Your Local campaign and their #CaringCustomer pledge in support of the hospitality sector and the food and drink supply chain sitting behind it. Small businesses and local independent firms have been adapting and doing their very best behind the scenes during lockdown, which has been an incredibly difficult time. Customers have seen just how much small businesses contribute to the character of their local area and are wondering if they really want to go ‘back to normal’. We encourage everyone to support their local small businesses over the weeks ahead as more and more are able to reopen.”

The campaign would not have been possible without the financial support from private individuals and match-funding support from Kent County Council. The following key stakeholders in Kent endorse the campaign and support it by sharing its #CaringCustomer pledge and campaign activities with their professional networks and with the general public:

Endorsers include; The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Gadd’s brewery, Nightingale Cider, Curd and Cure (featured image; a selection of their products), High Sheriff of Kent,  Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, Chapel Down Winery, Shepherd Neame Brewery , Outset UK, Frasers, Simpsons Wine Estate amongst many others, see link for updated list.

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AJ is a food writer, editor and PR.