The Chilham Tourism & Retailers Group first met in November 2006 as a result of an initiative by the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding National Beauty Unit, and supported by the Chilham Environmental Protection Society (CEPS).Some twenty local tourism-oriented businesses were invited, and participated in the initial stages of the development of the group.
Since then the group has got together with increasing regularity and has a Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer; and formal Membership. Currently under discussion is whether to formalise with a constitution in order to assist funding applications for projects.
Whilst our core membership is tourism-related businesses, we are concerned to provide a forum and to support all local small businesses whatever their focus. We are also careful to liase with the Parish Council and other statutory bodies, and we have amongst our members such local institutions as the Church and the Village Hall.
Click here to view our constituion (.pdf file 17kb) >>
To date we have achieved many things, not least providing a convivial forum for local businesses to meet and discuss issues, which affect them. We have also:
Worked with local partners to develop a logo and identity for Chilham as a promotional tool.
Worked to get Chilham onto the AONB website, Tourism South East’s website and our own country break on the Rural ways site.
We have also developed a website of our own for the group.
We worked with the Kent Downs AONB and Hidden Britain to produce the original Chilham guide leaflet.
We have lobbied on local railway services, rights of way, planning applications, condition of buildings, etc; all things which effect local tourism and thus our businesses.
We ran an “Enjoy Chilham” stall at a recent Horse Event in the Castle grounds, which attempted to promote all businesses in the parish.
We have redesigned and reissued a new Chilham leaflet with funding and support from the Kent Downs & Marshes Leader Programme, Ashford Borough Council, Chilham Parish Council, Hidden Britain South East.
We are currently planning to undertake visitor research in and around Chilham to evaluate the impact of our work and inform our future plans.
Chilham used to attract a much larger number of visitors and for various reasons this is no longer the case. This has undoubtedly weakened the local economy and local employment. No doubt some prefer the peace and quiet, but we believe it is possible to have a vibrant local economy without destroying our beautiful environment.