Amateur and professional writers from across Cumbria and further afield are in with a chance to receive widespread recognition with the 2019 Lakeland Book of the Year Awards.

Entries are now open for the prestigious competition, which can include any book published in 2018 set in or featuring Cumbria. Founded by Hunter Davies OBE 35 years ago and supported by Cumbria Tourism and main sponsors James Cropper, the Lakeland Book of the Year celebrates the amazing variety and quantity of writing that the Lake District, Cumbria inspires. The winner is whittled down from around 70 books each year, clearly showing that Cumbria is just as inspirational as when it was the setting for the work of Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey.

Each category winner (five in total) will receive a prize and recognition of their high-quality publication as one of the best from the last 12 months. However, only one of these will receive the ultimate accolade of the Hunter Davies Lakeland Book of the Year 2019.

The all-star judging panel with the task of reading all entries and selecting the shortlist and final winner are:

  • Head judge and founder Hunter Davies OBE (prolific author and regular contributor to The Times, The Sunday Times, The Guardian and the Daily Mail)
  • Eric Robson (broadcaster and Chairman of Cumbria Tourism, The Wainwright Society and Gardeners’ Question Time)
  • Fiona Armstrong (ITV and BBC newscaster, author, journalist and Lord Lieutenant of Dumfries).

All six prizes will be presented at a charity awards event at the Castle Green Hotel, Kendal on 16th July 2019. Attended by authors, publishers and book lovers from throughout Cumbria and beyond, this annual event has raised thousands for well deserving local charities.

Award Categories:

  • The Zeffirellis Prize for People and Business
  • The Striding Edge Prize for Guides and Places
  • The Bill Rollinson Prize for Landscape and Tradition
  • The Latitude Press Prize for Illustration and Presentation
  • The Bookends Prize for Art and Literature
  • The Hunter Davies Lakeland Book of the Year 2019


Judge Eric Robson says “The Lakeland Book of the Year Awards – now in their 35th year and still going strong – are one of the most prestigious awards in the country and I am proud to be a long-term supporter. Cumbria and the Lake District are home to some of the most inspiring landscapes in the world and every year I am blown away by the staggering range and quality of entries we receive – it’s a delight and a privilege to read every single one of them”.

The awards were founded by Hunter Davies and Cumbria Tourism (CT) and are managed by organisers Chris Tomlinson OBE, Affra Hartree and Vicky Robinson MBE, with support from CT. Last year’s winner was “Picture of Cumbria” by Phil Rigby.

The deadline for submissions is the 22nd March 2019. Entry forms are available at or from Cumbria Tourism (01539 822 222).

The results of an important countywide survey to discover the most up-to-date habits of the visitors who drive Cumbria’s £2.9 billion tourism industry are out.

Conducted once every three years, the Cumbria Visitor Survey is a vital part of Cumbria Tourism’s research work and is the only in-depth source of county-wide information on our visitors – revealing where they come from, who they are with, why they come and what they do while they are here. Crucially, they also disclose valuable information about trends and changes in visitor behaviour.

Carried out in conjunction with the majority of Cumbria Tourism’s local authority partners, the Lake District National Park Authority and the Local Enterprise Partnership, the survey involved the completion of 1,400 in-depth, face-to-face questionnaires over a four month period. A wide variety of questions ranged from how much they spend to what influenced their choice of accommodation and how they preferred to book their trips to the county.

As part of Cumbria Tourism’s aim to spread tourism countywide, a new question was introduced to see if people were visiting new places. Three in ten (29%) said they had only visited new places during their visit and 47% were visiting a mixture of old and new places.

Other key findings from the latest research include:

  • 18% of visitors were in Cumbria for the first time.
  • A third (32%) travelled from within the North West region. More than half of all those visiting for the day (56%) were from the North West and almost a quarter (23%) of those staying overnight were North West -based.
  • Pleasingly, visits from the South East increased from 7% in 2015 to 11% in 2018. 17% of first time visitors were also from the South East, up from 8% in 2015.
  • More than 2 in 5 overseas visitors were either from the USA (24%) or Australia (19%)
  • Overseas visitors spent an average of £810.76 per party per trip, compared to UK visitors who spend £659.15 per party per trip
  • 10% of visitors used Cumbria Tourism’s GoLakes website to find out about visiting Cumbria
  • 15% of visitors had a dog or dogs with them
  • 94% of all visitors said they felt either very much or ‘quite a lot’ better mentally while visiting the Lake District, Cumbria
  • 96% of visitors rated their trip as good or very good.


Cumbria Tourism’s Managing Director, Gill Haigh, says, “Cumbria is an area where the visitor economy has particular significance to the local economy and communities. Now with two UNESCO World Heritage Sites we have a game changer for the county as a whole and our ambition is to sustainably grow the value of tourism with specific focus on converting day visitors to staying visitors and delivering the ‘attract and disperse principle’. We also want to grow the visitor economy outside of the summer months, and to increase international visitor stay and spend.”

“Our role as the Destination Management Organisation for the county means we are in a unique position of working across local authority boundaries with our partners, to ensure we get the fullest, most accurate picture of visitor behaviour.

The Cumbria Visitor Survey is a key piece of research to assess how the county is performing against these objectives, as well as to identify long-term trends and ensure we and our member businesses focus resources in the right place at the right time.

It’s vital that Cumbria Tourism’s marketing, strategy and lobbying work continue to be truly insight-led and visitor-focused. This research gives us current, reliable evidence direct from visitors and enables us to make informed decisions about a wide range of activities and themes.

For example, targeting the most relevant international markets and developing high-quality content around topical issues like health and wellbeing which genuinely resonates with the people we want to attract.”

Cumbria Tourism takes the lead on the Cumbria Visitor Survey with support from seven local authority partners. That includes Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, The Lake District National Park Authority, Allerdale Borough Council, Carlisle City Council, Copeland Borough Council, Eden District Council and South Lakeland District Council.

The full detailed report is available at a reduced price of £50 for Cumbria Tourism members HERE (or £150 for non-members).

It’s full steam ahead at Cumbria Tourism with our international marketing activity this January.

As part of the UK Government’s £40 million Discover England Fund, we are leading the ‘Northern World Heritage Collection’ to target US and Irish markets.  Shaping itinerary development and new commissioned photography across the six World Heritage Sites are currently top of the agenda.

As part of this work, the Cumbria Tourism team will be heading out to meet potential visitors at Holiday World Dublin at the end of the month. Not only will we be representing the county, but we’ll also be sharing our new Food & Drink Guide alongside the official 2019 Holiday Guide (which will be hot off the press in the coming days!)

At the same time, we’re working closely with Marketing Manchester to target the Indian market. Recent meetings with around 30 trade buyers resulted in some great leads, so we are currently following these up and developing the next stage of the campaign following the launch of new regular flights from Mumbai to Manchester before Christmas.

The rest of our Discover England Fund projects are also moving along quickly. We’ve just held workshops in Appleby, Alston, Carlisle and Langdale – all aimed at helping businesses work effectively with the travel trade and develop packages which resonate with target audiences. If you couldn’t attend a workshop but would like more details, please let us know!

Did you know Wednesday 23 January is officially ‘Cumbria Day’?

Following on from the success of previous years, there will be a special event at the Houses of Parliament featuring our local MPs, businesses and other key organisations. It’s all about showcasing the best the county has to offer to Parliamentarians and key influencers.

It’s also our chance as a county to highlight everything that’s special about Cumbria and get the hashtag #CumbriaDay trending. We are currently finalising our plans to give the county an extra-special marketing push and the more businesses that get involved the more we can show the rest of the country (and the world) just how special Cumbria is.

Don’t forget to put the date in your diary and keep an eye on our corporate social media channels over the next couple of weeks for some ideas and inspiration to help mark the big day!

The last month has been an important period for influencing and lobbying policy to support the county’s visitor economy.

Before Christmas the government announced plans to enter into an official negotiation with the tourism industry for a ‘Tourism Sector Deal’, aimed at increasing productivity and driving economic growth.

Described as a game-changer, the plans would officially recognise tourism as a globally competitive ‘industry of the future’ and put it at the top of the Government’s national policy agenda.

Cumbria Tourism has continued its lobbying, to support the deal and the advantages it can bring to the county’s visitor economy. which has included representations in the House of Lords.

Most recently this has included hosting a fact finding mission by Visit Britain policy officers and, later this month, Cumbria Tourism will host DCMS officials. It is tremendously important that the Tourism Sector Deal moves forward and as the Destination Management Organisation for the Lake District, Cumbria, we will ensure the county is kept at the forefront of discussions in the coming weeks and months, and do all we can to support VisitEngland and VisitBritain to secure this opportunity.

Cumbria Tourism has thrown its weight behind growing calls for the Government to rethink the proposed route for new high-speed HS2 rail services, which are currently not scheduled to stop in Cumbria and responded to the Glover Report on the future of National Parks and AONBs.

Finally, Cumbria Tourism has been at the top table inputting and influencing Cumbria’s emerging Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) which is in response to the Government’s Industrial Strategy White Paper. The LIS will set out the strategic economic development priorities for Cumbria for the next 10 years.

We are pleased with the recognition and positioning the visitor economy has received in the draft document which is due to be finalised this month. You can view the draft HERE.

Tourism Business Workshops

Know your Geopark

Five fortnightly workshops giving a background to the geological, natural and cultural heritage of the North Pennines, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and UNESCO Global Geopark.

Sessions will be run by the North Pennines AONB Partnership with help from other experts. The aim is to give local businesses the tools to help visitors better engage with and enjoy the North Pennines, and what being in a Geopark can do for you. The sessions will include a mixture of talks, discussions, getting hands on and getting out and about, and of course meeting others working in the tourism sector. Sessions are FREE, run from 11am to 3pm on the dates listed below, and lunch is provided.


Week 1 – Introduction to the Geopark and its Geology

16th January 2019

Location: Barrington Hall, St John’s Chapel

Highlights: Input from Dr Stuart Jones, Durham University


Week 2 – Cultural Heritage – History and Archaeology in the North Pennines

30th January 2019

Location: Strathmore Arms, Holwick

Highlights: Dig deeper into human stories past and present


Week 3 – Exploring Geology and Waterfalls

13th February 2019

Location: Bowlees Visitor Centre, Teesdale

Highlights: Getting out and about to see familiar features in a new way


Week 4 – Mining in the North Pennines

27th February 2019

Location: Killhope Lead Mining Museum

Highlights: Overground and underground tour to discover the visitor experience


Week 5 – Natural Heritage – Wildlife and Dark Skies

13th March 2019

Location: Old Schoolhouse, Allenheads

Highlights: Find out more about our distinctive wildlife and visit the North Pennines Observatory


Booking essential. Book online at

For more information please email or call 01388 528801


Cumbria Tourism has thrown its weight behind growing calls for the Government to rethink the proposed route for new high-speed HS2 rail services, which are currently not scheduled to stop in Cumbria.

As the county’s official Destination Management Organisation, it says the provision of direct services to and from London is vital for our £2.9billion visitor economy. Without this strategic connectivity, there are increasing fears that Cumbria will appear less accessible and potentially lose the competitive edge.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, comments, “With two World Heritage Sites and increasing numbers of international visitors to the region, it is unacceptable to see the proposed HS2 route – which is purportedly designed to benefit the ‘North of England’ – will not stop in Cumbria.

“Cumbria is a world-class destination and visitors to the county support almost 65,000 jobs. We also want to see more people actively using sustainable modes of transport to get to the county; this should not be ignored by the government and franchise plans for the North of England.

“What’s more, people who live and work here also need easy access to both the Capital and other parts of the country, in order to do successful business and build strategic relationships in a challenging and competitive marketplace.”

She adds, “We stand alongside Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the County Council, the Local Enterprise Partnership and several of our local MPs, as we collectively lobby national decision-makers to reconsider the current plans.”

Cumbria Tourism’s latest tourism business survey highlights uncertainty about labour shortages, skills, travel disruption and Brexit, BUT reveals optimism about new opportunities to grow tourism in the county.

As Cumbria’s official Destination Management Organisation, we have been carrying out regular surveys with tourism businesses every six months for more than 20 years.  This research provides a county-wide opportunity to monitor long-term trends and business performance, and analyse factors affecting business in a positive or negative way.  It then helps us to highlight the most significant concerns and challenges with both national and regional policy-makers.

This Autumn, for the first time, Cumbria Tourism’s Business Performance Survey has been carried out in conjunction with one of the North West’s leading firms of accountants, tax and business advisors, Lamont Pridmore.

The results cover this year’s main visitor season – the six-month period from March to September 2018 – as well as looking ahead into 2019. Alongside Brexit, they reveal that travel disruption and staffing were major issues of concern:

  • 40% report that disruption on the railways was damaging for the region.
  • 64% of businesses say they have a problem recruiting staff and almost half also report problems with retaining staff.

Other key findings include:

  • 76% of businesses reported returning customers as a positive factor over the past six months.
  • 73% of tourism businesses will either exceed or match their performance from 2017. However, this is 16% lower than the previous year.
  • 44% reported staycations as a big driver for growth.
  • 58% of businesses think that plans to open up flights from Carlisle Lake District Airport will have a positive effect on tourism
  • Cumbria’s most important overseas markets are: the USA, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands and China.
  • 60% of businesses think Cumbria’s status as a World Heritage Site will have a positive effect.

The survey comes hot on the heels of new government plans to enter into an official negotiation with the tourism industry nationally for a ‘Tourism Sector Deal’, aimed at increasing productivity.  Cumbria Tourism has been lobbying for an official deal for some time and last week hosted VisitBritain colleagues to explore how this could work for Cumbria. The results of the Business Performance Survey will now also enable Cumbria Tourism – along with its partners – to keep the county at the forefront of high-profile discussions as details of the Tourism Sector Deal’ are finalised in 2019.

Gill Haigh, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism says, “This latest research demonstrates that 2018 has been a challenging year for the tourism industry. The significant rail disruption combined with the extreme weather – including the so-called ‘Beast from the East’ followed by the exceedingly hot weather in May and June – have taken their toll, and there is certainly evidence of visitors tightening their spending. At the same time, there have been increased costs for businesses.

 “The survey results also illustrate the significance of staffing and recruitment challenges and increasing concerns regarding the impact of Brexit. This is not completely unexpected, but shows that the visitor economy needs continued support to keep growing in value. The survey results give us the evidence base we need as an organisation to keep up the pressure on funding, support and future strategy at the highest levels and to focus our resources on the issues that matter most.”

Chief Executive of Lamont Pridmore, Graham Lamont, says, “This research is invaluable to ensure Cumbria Tourism can take an evidenced based approach to effecting change for the tourism industry at a national level, as well as developing their own activities to continue the growth of the visitor economy. Understandably, Brexit is causing concern and uncertainty among businesses but they too can use these research findings to inform their own decision making and future plans.  Lamont Pridmore is delighted to support the Business Performance Survey.”

Our comprehensive research function is one of our key activities which setss us apart as a Destination Management Organisation. As well as the Business Performance Survey, other regular analysis carried out by our research team includes monthly occupancy surveys, county-wide visitor surveys, regular analysis of accommodation stock and data collection from visitor attractions.

For more information on our research programme, contact Research Manager, Helen Tate:

We welcome new government plans to enter into an official negotiation with the tourism industry for a ‘Tourism Sector Deal’, aimed at increasing productivity and driving economic growth.

Described as a game-changer, the plans would officially recognise tourism as a globally competitive ‘industry of the future’ and put it at the top of the Government’s national policy agenda.

In Cumbria, tourism supports almost 65,000 jobs and is worth £2.9 billion to the local economy. As the county’s official Destination Management Organisation (DMO), we’ve been been lobbying vigorously for an official deal to tackle a range of key issues specifically affecting our visitor economy, including: skills and labour supply, travel and transport, housing and digital connectivity.

In recent months, this activity has seen Cumbria Tourism liaising closely with high-level influencers at VisitBritain and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, as well as speaking directly to the Tourism Minister Michael Ellis and raising the issues to a House of Lords Select Committee earlier this month.

It is expected that the negotiations just announced by the Government will lead to a final Tourism Sector Deal being announced early next year.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “This is the Government saying they are taking tourism seriously. It is a hugely positive statement of intent and it is now tremendously important that the Tourism Sector Deal moves forward. As the Destination Management Organisation for the Lake District, Cumbria, we will ensure the county is kept at the forefront of discussions in the coming weeks and months, and do all we can to support VisitEngland and VisitBritain to secure this opportunity.

“The Sector Deal focus is about increasing productivity.  This chimes perfectly with Cumbria’s Tourism’s existing strategy to grow the value of tourism through higher-spending international and domestic visitors and to continue marketing the county as an all year round destination, as well as boosting skills and supporting long term careers in hospitality, which are critical for us as a county.”

She adds, “It is essential that we work together as a county – spanning both the private and public sectors – to ensure that we seize this landmark moment.”