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Folkestone Airshow, 8 June – Boosting local business

Fly Folkestone, 7 – 9 June – Turn a memorable Day into a Wonderful Weekend

Building on last year’s successful Jubilee Airshow that attracted over 60,000, a bigger and better one is planned for this year. Spread over three days from 7 – 9 June, it is hoped that 100,000 people will visit the town for the air display on Saturday and that a proportion of these will have an overnight stay in Folkestone or nearby, so using the hotels, cafés, restaurants and other facilities.

The Saturday air display will extend over five hours, with a full PA system, giving commentary, covering the Leas from The Metropole to the Road of Remembrance and The Seafront from Onyx Night Club to the Mermaid Café.  On The Leas itself there will be stallsfrom community groups, charities and the forces with some food outlets from businesses that service the Leas while on the Old Rotunda site there will be a food and trade village

To make the weekend attractive for those who stay overnight, events are being planned from Friday through to Sunday including walking and coach tours of Folkestone and the surrounding areas, a seaside family fun day, living history events, taster sessions at the  sea sports centre and an exhibition of models made by local schools

At the Folkestone Air Show’s launch in The Grand on January 23, speakers John Barber, Town Centre Manager, Chris Kirkham of Discover Folkestone, Amanda Cottrell, chairman of Visit Kent and Yvonne Holder, project manager, made it clear how much visitors to the area and events like the Airshow boosted the local economy. Tourism’s contribution is £210 million per annum with the Airshow on its own contributing up to £12.6 million and, as Chris Kirkham pointed out, it is important to remember that those who come once often return and will probably encourage others; a visitor survey carried out in Folkestone between June & September 2011 discovered that 60% of visitors questioned stated that their likelihood of recommending the area to family and friends was “very high” with a further 25% saying that their likelihood of recommendation was “high”.

And of course all these visitors help sustain businesses and employment in some way. In order to ensure that the local economy benefits as much as possible, the Airshow has a ‘buy local’ ethos, where possible sourcing goods and services locally as well as giving all local businesses the opportunity to promote, sell and display over the whole weekend.

But all this will cost money, so in return local businesses and local people are being encouraged to help raise the £250,000 that will be needed to put the show on. Yvonne Holder set out ways in which people can help, from small donations to corporate sponsorship. Individuals can also help by becoming a Friend of the Folkestone Air Show or attending the Gala Fund Raising evening on Saturday 23rd March at the Burlington Hotel. And finally of course volunteers will be needed on the day. Details of how you can help and all other information about Folkestone Airshow can be found of their website at www.folkestoneairshow.com.

What came across during the launch at The Grand was the excitement, efficiency and determination of those involved. One came away with the feeling the Airshow and all the other festivals planned for June are a very large piece in the Folkestone regeneration jig-saw slowly being put together by an increasingly energised population.