Just a few words about Canterbury and the opportunities related to the promotion of the Via Francigena with Mrs Jean Law, Deputy Leader, Canterbury City Council
Canterbury is a city with a rich past demonstrated by the many historic buildings in our centre and includes Canterbury Cathedral which has been there for over 1400 years and the medieval Westgate which has been in use since 1349 and is the largest surviving city gate in England. We are proud hosts of the zero stone that marks the beginning (or end depending upon where one starts!) of the Via Francigena. The vibrant present is exemplified by the construction of the new Marlowe theatre – a contemporary building that compliments the bold building projects of historic times. Canterbury’s promising future is reflected in the ongoing growth of the local economy - especially in the higher education sector. And over the next couple of years the city council will have invested more to improve and enhance the city’s public realm and facilities through the restoration and improvement of the riverside and the Westgate Garden Park. These attractions are valued by both our community and visitors alike.
The visitor economy is important to all of our municipal area and is supporting over 8,000 jobs. With nearly seven million visitors; tourism contributes more than £459m (565m euros) to the local economy each year. The city council is supporting and developing the visitor economy and tourism offer by improving the services and facilites for the community, visitors and businesses both financially and socially. And we are growing the visitor economy in a sustainable way.
We are promoting the area as an all year around destination – we are more than a place just for summer visits. We use the Canterbury brand to encourage visitors to explore all we have to offer throughout the year and throughout the area - our coast, countryside and city.
And so, the opportunity to participate in work to promote the Via Francigena route and the towns, heritage, culture and people along its way not only helps Canterbury grow its economy. It also promotes understanding and enrichment beyond our religious, societal and national differences. Telling history through the fascinating stories of Europe’s past is really one of the best ways of teaching history and of showing that Europe is indeed created from all its differences, from exchanges, from travel and "crossing paths".