Decision details

24/00010 - Contracting Inward Investment and Visitor Economy Services for Kent & Medway

Decision Maker: Cabinet Member for Economic Development

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: Yes


Proposed decision

To agree to pursue a procurement process to contract Inward Investment and Visitor Economy services for Kent & Medway for two years. The value of the contract includes a  financial reduction from previous years.


Reason for the decision

Current contractual arrangements with Locate in Kent, Kent & Medway’s Inward Investment Agency and Visit Kent, Kent & Medway’s Destination Management Organisation and Local Visitor Economy Partnership come to an end on 30 June 2024. In order to ensure that Kent & Medway benefit from inward investment and visitor economy services in future, these services need to be re-procured.



Many areas across the UK have inward investment services and destination management organisations in place to promote local opportunities and maximise external investment and visitor spend to boost the local economy.


Kent County Council (KCC) and Medway Council (MC) have provided financial support and strategic direction for many years for services to secure inward investment into the county and develop and promote the county’s tourism offer.


These services:

·         Promote investment opportunities in the county to investors and businesses based outside Kent & Medway

·         Bring new businesses to Kent & Medway creating employment opportunities for local people

·         Secure external investment into local businesses safeguarding jobs

·         Promote the county’s visitor economy and tourism offer nationally and internationally

·         Bring additional visitors to the county and associated spend with local visitor economy businesses (accommodation, experiences, attractions, leisure, hospitality and retail)

·         Provide a range of support activities to visitor economy businesses to enable them to develop and grow


Although KCC and MC face significant financial pressures, the value of these services to the local economy is significant. They provide better employment opportunities and quality of life for local residents.



1.    Retender the contract on the basis of previous years; a higher cost and two separate services delivered. This was not possible due to budgetary pressures and a need to reduce the value of the contracts.

2.    Retender the contract with a reduced budget and combining previous commissions into a single service. This option, which is being pursued, provides financial savings for KCC and enables an aligning of approach as well as efficiency savings to be made. KPIs proportionate to the available reduced budget would have to be set.

3.    Bring these services in house. Cost savings would not be achieved and the ‘value added’ of independent private sector organisations delivering a credible service would be lost.

4.    Cease funding the Inward Investment and Visitor Economy services. This option would lead to the end of the inward investment service in Kent & Medway as KCC is the principal funder. Locate in Kent has supported 21 new business investment projects since May 2023 which have created 497 jobs in Kent & Medway. This option would significantly weaken the visitor economy service as KCC is a major principal funder. The Visitor Economy is worth £3.8bn to Kent & Medway each year and the Visit Kent service plays a key role in sustaining and growing this.


How the proposed decision supports Framing Kent’s Future 2022-2026:

These services directly support the following FKF commitments:

·   “Rebrand Kent to attract national and international investment by promoting all that the county has to offer for business, learning, leisure and tourism”

·   “Support strategic opportunities for growth through the delivery of sites and premises and support for new investment and business expansion, where it will deliver higher-value jobs and increased productivity and contributes to our Net Zero target.”

·   “Back SMEs and entrepreneurs to start-up, grow and drive adoption of new technology to improve productivity through increased GVA (Gross Value Added) and higher wages”


How the proposed decision supports Securing Kent’s Future:

·   Objective 2: Delivering savings from identified opportunity areas to set a sustainable 2024/25 budget and MTFP:

o   Contract review

·   The value to Kent of these services has been considered and their objectives and outcomes reviewed in order to ensure best value for KCC and Kent residents.





As Cabinet Member for Economic Development, I agree to:


(i)       PROCURE an Inward Investment and Visitor Economy services contract for the next two financial years. Medway Council (MC) will contribute funding to this single contract and


(ii)       DELEGATE to the Director Growth & Communities to take other relevant actions including but not limited to entering into required legal agreements as necessary to implement the decision.

Publication date: 22/03/2024

Date of decision: 22/03/2024

Effective from: 03/04/2024

Accompanying Documents: