Challenging times for centre

Manager Simon Parsons chairs a meeting about the future of the town model and the heritage centre

Last weekend’s headlines were all about Dover and Folkestone’s problems, as holidaymakers heading to Europe found it harder to cross the Channel since Brexit. But holidaymakers coming here from Europe have also been affected with consequences for both Rye, Hastings and the south east.

And one place affected has been Rye’s heritage centre where the town model (shown above) has been a popular visitor attraction.

In past years those visitors have included cruise liner passengers stopping off at Dover on their UK voyage, but 90 such people had to cancel their heritage centre visit this past weekend because of the traffic chaos around Dover – and the risk that those tourists might not be able to get back to their boat before it was due to depart.

And the centre’s visitors have also, in the past, included children and students from other countries, but Britain’s exit from Europe has apparently put a stop to this because passport rules have changed.

Language schools suffer

When Britain was part of the European community, students could travel on group passports but now Britain is no longer part of the EC, students travelling out of Europe require individual passports.

This change has affected school visits from Europe to the centre, but it has also had a major impact on language schools across the south east and Hastings in particular. Foreign students used to come here in the holidays to learn English and large groups of them were often a familiar sight, but this summer you can expect to see very few.

In addition, cost of living pressures are having an impact on the British holiday market, though Rye’s crowded streets in recent days suggest that “staycations” are popular – particularly because of recent problems at airports.

The heritage centre therefore plans to extend its opening days and hours in August, they are currently 10:30am to 4pm from Tuesday to Saturday.

Funding challenge

Apart from the state of the holiday market, another immediate challenge is that the audio visual system used with the town model, which was state of the art back in the early  1990s, is showing its age thirty years later and funding is needed – in the region of £60,000 – to bring it up to date, or probably replace it completely with the most up to date kit possible.

The heritage centre has however been significantly reorganised and manager Simon Parsons recommends you visit their website for up to date information.

Image Credits: Heidi Foster .


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