Last year I wrote to the Chancellor to ask for the return of duty-free and the Brexit boost that could bring to our port, ferry companies and cruise ships. So in Parliament I welcomed those regulations for the return of duty-free and the opportunities that brings on the Channel Crossing.
As a young woman, I enjoyed putting on my spotted rah-rah dress and dancing across the sea on the ferry disco. From ordering your ‘frites et mayonnaise’ to shopping at a Calais Supermarché, it was a proper day out.
Many a local resident enjoyed the all-you-can-eat buffet, with its exotic name – the Smorgasbord – on the now-defunct Sally line from Ramsgate. While so many friendships and relationships were rekindled and revitalised on the famous evening Dance to France.
Like so much from those years, while we have gained, we have also lost. So focused on our destination that we have lost the pleasure in the journey. For me and for many, a ferry trip is nothing less than a mini-cruise. From ballpits and play areas for the little ones, to video games and bars for the grown-ups, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Such enjoyment is what it is all about. There’s so much fun on the ferries.
That wasn’t a view shared by the opposition parties in the debate in Parliament on a motion to annul (cancel) the regulations in favour of ones which would favour ‘high value retail’, like designer handbags, city centres and airports. Our own local prosperity and economy matters and it is right that Government supports it. Such simple and accessible pleasures will help to re-boot our beleaguered hospitality and travel industries. Of course, the day trip to France is only a part of what our local hospitality and retail businesses need. Throughout the pandemic, I have been working with hoteliers, publicans, holiday cottages, shops, and many other small businesses across our whole community. I have much admiration at the adaptability and sheer hard work as each wave of the virus has brought fresh challenges.
Dover, Deal, Walmer, Kingsdown, St Margaret’s, Capel-le-Ferne, Betteshanger, and our inland rural villages, have so much each to offer. As Dorothy says at the end of the Wizard of Oz, “there’s no place like home”. And we are home to an extraordinary array of natural beauty, man-made history and culture, entertainment, retail, outward bound, cycling, sailing and sea training centres. We have an advantage of being one of the very best known, and much-loved, areas of the UK, within easy access to millions of people. As we move forward through the pandemic, there is a golden opportunity to attract visitors, new and old, to visit, stay, and spend in our community. I’ll be doing all I can to help make that happen.