With VisitBritain pledging to increase the value of the country’s tourism to £35 billion by 2025, Cumbria Tourism is stepping up its efforts to promote the county and increase its reputation and popularity to international visitors.

Following its involvement with a successful trade mission to India earlier this month Cumbria Tourism representatives will next be travelling to Britain and Ireland Marketplace (BIM) on 28th January, a one-day workshop connecting international tour operators and travel buyers with tourism products from across the UK and Ireland. With attendees including key decision-makers it is a fantastic opportunity to highlight Cumbria and the Lake District, particularly its less well-known regions, to operators looking to build new itineraries.

Just one week later, ambassadors from the county will be attending the UKinbound Annual Convention 2020 in Bristol from 5th February, attending debates and seminars on crafting a successful international marketing strategy before returning to the county to share their insights and help make Cumbria even more attractive to international travellers. The event will also provide the opportunity to build new relationships with the travel trade through B2B workshops.

Tourism business across the county are also being invited to get involved in attracting and welcoming overseas customers. Alongside VisitEngland, Cumbria Tourism is hosting a free workshop on 10th March at the Villa, Levens – Taking England to the World. Attendees will learn key skills on how to expand into international markets, advertise their unique selling points and how to best welcome and accommodate overseas. To learn more and reserve a free place visit www.cumbriatourism.org/events/.

This increased focus on international visitors comes hot on the heels of the English Lake District India Forum’s attendance at the VisitBritain trade mission to Mumbai and Delhi. 13 local representatives from the newly created forum, coordinated by Cumbria Tourism, have been meeting and networking with more than 300 representatives from key travel and tour operators looking to expand their UK itineraries. 2019 (Jan-Sept) was a record-breaker for inbound Indian visits, with almost half a billion traveling to Britain – an increase of 13% (International Passenger Survey, Office for National Statistics), and it is hoped that the mission will inspire operators to include the Lake District within their products.

Francine Bult, Sales and Marketing Executive at Cumbria Tourism, was part of the mission. She said “it was fantastic to be art of such a positive event and having so many Lake District businesses attending together really strengthened the area in the minds of the representatives we met. The Lake District has so much to offer travellers from India, and we’re confident that everyone who visits will find something they’ll fall in love with and remember forever.

 “Our region is highly accessible for travellers arriving into the UK through London, Scotland and the North West and even before the trip ended we were already hearing how they were planning to add the Lake District to their itineraries. Cumbria is a huge draw for Indian tourists looking for an authentic British experience and we look forward to welcoming our overseas guests very soon.”

 Inbound visitors to Cumbria spend on average of £150 more per party per trip than internal tourist (Cumbria Tourism Visitor Survey 2018) and a focus on new and developing overseas markets has the potential to increase the strength of the county’s visitor economy, without an exponential effect on overall footfall, especially if coupled with encouraging visitors to explore outside of the traditional areas.

Cumbria Tourism has given a cautious welcome to news that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is re-considering the proposed £30,000 minimum salary threshold for immigrant workers arriving after Brexit.

However, with the Government’s Migration Advisory Committee due to report back with proposals for the new points-based scheme next week, it is urging the Government to ensure a system that genuinely encourages people with the skills that our tourism and hospitality sector needs.

The issue has been a growing concern for many Cumbrian tourism businesses in recent months, as European workers are an important asset for Cumbria’s £3billion tourism industry and it would potentially be harder for ‘low skill’ EU nationals to enter and support the county’s visitor economy under the original recommendations.

It’s now reported that Mr Johnson is suggesting an Australian-style points system, with the Migration Advisory Committee due to report back fully next week with proposals for the new scheme – ahead of the UK’s departure from the European Union.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “Scrapping the arbitrary £30k rule would certainly be a step in the right direction, in terms of removing a significant barrier to recruitment from overseas.

 “However, that’s not to say that it will be easier to recruit tourism and hospitality workers from overseas. This change will make no difference if the new points threshold is too high, so we will be encouraging the Government to develop a points-based system that genuinely encourages people with the skills that our tourism and hospitality sector needs. This is vitally important in an area like Cumbria where there is already a significant labour shortage.”

 One of the biggest employers of European staff is the hotel sector and Cumbria Tourism’s stance is supported by the Lake District Hotel Association (LDHA). Chairman of the LDHA, Joe Cobb, added, “This issue is all the more pertinent in Cumbria, where there is already a major labour shortage. 

 “Cumbria’s population is less than half a million – and aging fast – meaning there is a limit on the number of eligible working age people available locally. In fact, hospitality has the highest level of job vacancies, the highest level of difficult-to-fill vacancies and the highest level of retention difficulties. We fully support Cumbria Tourism’s strong stance on this critical issue.”

In the meantime, Cumbria Tourism is continuing to work with The Tourism Alliance and UK Inbound at a national level to lobby the Government around the specific recruitment, retention and skills needs in rural areas like Cumbria.  It has written to all six of Cumbria’s MPs seeking their support with the points threshold issue.

Looking to grow your international business? Keen to increase your sales through a wide range of distribution channels? Tourism Exchange GB has been developed to help you do just that.

Tourism Exchange GB is a B2B platform which links your availability, pricing, and bookings, with a range of Distributors, chosen by you, and all managed in one place.

What are the benefits of joining?

  • Increased exposure for your product, backed up by Cumbria Tourism’s year round destination marketing activity.
  • One stop exchange – manage availability, pricing, content and bookings in one place
  • Real time transfer of information
  • Free to join
  • Comprehensive sales reporting
  • Create free booking pages for your own website
  • No booking, no fee (pay 2.5% + VAT booking fee plus commission of your chosen Distributors)

What distribution channels are available?

These are growing all the time, but currently include the following:

Accommodation: Ctrip, Agoda, Booking.com, Expedia (and 19 related distributors) and Trivago

Attractions: VisitBritain Shop, TripAdvisor & Viator (and over 50 related distributors including Flight Centre, Lastminute.com & Etihad Airways) Marketing Manchester and HTS Touristik.

 

 How do you get connected?

Visit TXGB.co.uk to and follow the link to apply now.

If you have already have a booking system which is connected to TXGB (e.g. Bokun, Digitickets, Trekksoft, Anytime Booking) then you will be able to connect automatically with our connection wizard. Otherwise the TXGB support team can help you get connected via TX Load

 

With you every step of the way …

Our 24/7 support team is on hand to help make connection as quick and simple as possible. Whether you have a quick question or would like us to set up your business with you, the team is committed to providing as much support as you need.

You can contact the team on support@TXGB.co.uk or on 0330 223 5050

 FIND OUT MORE

 

Get in touch. We’ll help get you connected. And help your business put Cumbria on the map!

 

If it worked for them …

National Forest E-Bike Holidays

“Having utilised the TXGB system to take payment for a booking, I’m really excited by its potential and can see how it will help reach overseas customers, as well as providing an efficient payment tool for UK guests. 

As a small business offering electric bike cycling holidays, this professional booking and payment system, which can dovetail into my existing business model is fantastic.. I’m certain that TXGB will become an integral part of my business model and strongly recommend it to other small tourism businesses.”

Sue Jerham, Director
 

Scranchester Tours

“I have found the process of using TXGB very straightforward and any queries I’ve had have been answered fully and promptly by the support team. The process for setting up my tours and managing my availability on TXGB load is easy and uncomplicated. The fact that in the future I will be able to integrate my ticketing provider with TXGB means that I will be able to manage my allocations in real-time from one place, which will make the whole process even easier. Linking up my Stripe payment account could not have been easier.

I have been operating my food tour business for less than two years. TXGB allows me, as a small business, to access platforms and to make links with travel trade which in the past would not have been possible. I am excited to see the platform grow and develop, and can thoroughly recommend it to other tourism businesses.”

 

Rob Kelly, Director

Since its inception back in 2000, Inspired Energy has been working tirelessly to build the most complete utilities management solution available – a solution that can meet the diverse needs of businesses of all sizes and across all sectors. Our growth has been careful and strategic; through acquisition and investment, we’ve become not only one of the largest utilities consultancies in the UK but also the best in the business.

Today, Inspired Energy plc serves more than 2,800 clients. With more than 500 dedicated team members, we have the scale and expertise to help businesses with every aspect of utilities management; from cost control and procurement through to innovative research and renewable generation projects. And our service isn’t just for large industrial and commercial organisations: during our acquisition trail, we have also gained expertise specific to the SME market.

In fact, we now have a utilities solution that stretches across the entire market, including specialist teams for education, healthcare, churches and the public sector; all backed by a unique, best-in-class software platform. It’s been quite a journey. Let’s take a look at how we got here:

INSPIRED ENERGY – THE FIRST TEN YEARS

Our business was founded almost twenty years ago. We had ambitious plans in place from the outset: our aim was to consolidate a fragmented and confusing TPI marketplace and our focus was making utilities management easier and more valuable for the businesses who sought our help. Our determination saw its first significant rewards in 2011 when we became the first and only publicly quoted TPI, following a successful AIM debut in November 2011. We were proud to discover that we were the only business in the North West to achieve successful flotation that year.

OUR ‘BUY AND BUILD’ GROWTH STRATEGY

In April 2012, we began building our business in earnest, with the acquisition of Direct Energy Purchasing. DEP’s sector specialisms included energy procurement services for healthcare and speciality-retail clients. The acquisition provided us with the opportunity to reach new marketplaces. It also increased our average client size, as well as broadening our geographic reach and diversifying our supplier offering. The investment delivered a range of valuable benefits to the clients of both businesses. It received such strong support from our shareholders that we were certain our acquisition journey would continue.

REACHING SMALLER BUSINESSES

In 2013, our new capabilities and larger team enabled us to establish the EnergiSave division of Inspired Energy. EnergiSave was created with the specific needs of SMEs in mind – and the hard work of the EnergiSave team meant that from the very first year of trading, performance of the new division has exceeded all expectations.

To bolster our new EnergiSave service and ensure we were able to offer SMEs the market-leading, comprehensive solution they needed, we invested in the acquisition of KWH Consulting and Simply Business Energy only one year later in 2014. The newly enlarged EnergiSave was able to provide SMEs with more competitive energy contracts from a broader variety of suppliers. Simply Business Energy already had agreements in place with most major suppliers and had also developed a fully automated, operational online quoting platform for SME customers looking to switch their energy supplier. Acquisition of the business and the platform meant we could enhance our group’s offering while also streamlining back office functions throughout the SME division.

NEW REGIONS AND NEW CAPABILITIES

Between 2014 and 2019, we’ve made a further thirteen business acquisitions. Each time, our aim has been to build a business our clients can depend on for every single aspect of their utilities management – one that can offer truly expert advice but is also flexible to their specific needs.

Since our growth journey began, we have strengthened our service offering through the acquisition of the experienced teams of engineers and analysts at Wholesale Power UK and STC Energy. We have also expanded into the Irish marketplace through the acquisition of our Irish counterpart Horizon Energy Group, and we have broadened our capabilities to better serve specialist marketplaces through the acquisition of Flexible Energy Management (public sector), Churchcom (churches) and SquareOne (education and manufacturing). Since then, we’ve also increased our team of procurement experts and added telecoms to the mix through the acquisition of Informed Business Solutions. In 2018, we further enhanced our technical and data management capabilities, carbon reduction expertise, cost auditing competence and overall service-offering with the acquisition of SystemsLink 2000, Energy Cost Management, Inprova Energy and Professional Cost Management Group. Then, in 2019 we invested in water specialist business WaterWatch UK, ensuring a truly rounded utilities offering. Now, whatever the utilities project at hand, we have the scale, the software and the specialist teams to get it right for every business, regardless of sector or size.

THE GROWTH TREND CONTINUES

Our mission to build a total utilities solution for our customers is ongoing. Last year, we secured a 40% stake in Ignite Energy, with a two-year option to acquire the remainder of the business. We believe that Ignite’s specialism in energy efficiency projects and optimisation services will bring significant benefits to our existing customers, particularly those pursuing ambitious carbon reduction goals.

Our energy marketplace is changing at pace and it’s important that Inspired Energy is properly equipped to help businesses navigate new risks and reap any potential rewards. From negotiating best-in-class electricity, gas and water supply contracts to complying with the latest carbon legislation and implementing new on-site energy generation projects, we intend to remain the go-to consultancy and to keep on growing our experienced and expert teams.

Talk to us about a complete utilities solution for your business. Call 01772 689 250, email partnerships@inspiredenergy.co.uk or visit www.inspired-referral.co.uk

Bills & Calculator

January is a time for reflection for most people and this includes business owners, with the new year bringing with it an opportunity to take stock of performance during the past 12 months, create goals for the year ahead, and ensure that you start the new year in the best position possible.

Utility bills make up a large proportion of a business’ overheads, so when it comes to your financial health check, managing your business energy costs is a critical part of this. Here’s what you can do to start your new year on the right foot…

Review Your Energy Contracts

A good energy procurement strategy means more than just renewing your gas and electricity contracts at their end dates – it’s always worth reviewing your current contracts to see where you could be paying less.  Are you on the right tariff for your business needs? Have you missed a renewal date, leaving you stuck with a poor value default rate? We can perform a free, no-obligation energy assessment to confirm whether your utilities are performing well and unearth any cost-saving opportunities. Plus, we can set up renewal reminders to ensure you avoid those pesky rollover rates!

Be Mindful of Consumption

Did you leave the office lights on over Christmas? If you did, chances are that this will have gone unnoticed, but it will have undoubtedly cost you money. Improve the way you use energy with a business smart meter, which can help you to monitor and reduce your energy consumption – after all you can’t manage what you can’t measure. We work with suppliers who offer free smart meters and can arrange this on your behalf.

New Year, New Supplier?

According to Ofgem’s Micro and Small Business Engagement Survey*, 36% of businesses were too busy to switch energy suppliers and 35% thought that something would go wrong if they switched. This lack of engagement is costing small businesses money, with many small business owners put off by the complexity of the energy market.

We understand that finding the best deal can be time-consuming and complicated – the energy markets are ever-changing, with prices affected by everything from the weather to political events. Our energy experts track electricity and gas prices daily, so we can find you the most competitive deal. The results speak for themselves – we save SMEs an average of £500 on their renewal quotes.

*Ofgem Micro and Small Business Engagement Survey 2018Micro and small businesses that haven’t switched supplier or tariff in past 12 months.

To give your business utilities a refresh, get in touch with Inspired Energy plc. Call 01772 689 250, email partnerships@inspiredenergy.co.uk or visit www.inspired-referral.co.uk

Left-right Richard Ford, (Regional Manager, Booths) , Richard Nolan (Windermere store manager), Gill Haigh (MD, Cumbria Tourism) - Copy

Local residents and workers are set to receive a reward with a difference, thanks to a brand new partnership being unveiled today (Monday 20 January 2020) between Booths and Cumbria Tourism’s popular ‘MyCumbria’ scheme.

MyCumbria recognises the important role that residents play in supporting the county’s thriving tourism economy and has unveiled a new long-term residents’ offer from the renowned local retailer, which gives £3 off to shoppers when they spend £30 across any of eight specific Booths stores. That includes Penrith, Windermere, Keswick, Kirkby Lonsdale, Kendal, Ulverston and Milnthorpe in Cumbria, alongside Carnforth in North Lancashire.

MyCumbria cards are produced by Cumbria Tourism and are available for anyone who lives or works in a CA or LA postcode area. Booths now joins more than 250 unique residents’ offers for a wide range of pubs, cafes, restaurants, tourist attractions, retailers and transport providers throughout the county.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, Cumbria Tourism’s role is to support our £3billion visitor economy. The MyCumbria scheme is all about recognising and rewarding the people who live and work here too.  We are absolutely delighted that Booths are now offering this special deal, which shoppers won’t find anywhere else and is aimed at rewarding residents for the role they play in our local communities. As well as providing great savings for individuals, the card is also a practical way for residents to support local jobs and businesses.”

Regional Manager for Booths, Richard Ford, says ‘’With seven stores dotted around Cumbria, Booths is home to countless traditional specialties that have given the region its reputation for fantastic food and drink.

“Partnering with MyCumbria to reward local residents is a natural move for Booths as we’re committed to serving the local communities in which we operate. This is an exclusive offer which we hope will allow our customers to enjoy some of the very best food and drink the region has to offer whilst benefitting from a special discount they won’t be able to get elsewhere.”

To redeem the offer, the shopper should show their MyCumbria card along with a form of ID at the checkout.

The offer is not available to Booths colleagues or in conjunction with any other offer and cannot be redeemed against purchases of fuel, mobile top ups, gift cards, baby milk and any purchases from the kiosk (including tobacco, lottery and stamps). It cannot be used on a self-check-out or on Click & Collect pre-orders, and there is no cash alternative.

For more information about buying a MyCumbria card, contact: 01539 822222 / info@mycumbriacard.co.uk

Cumbria Tourism Vice Chairman represented members and the visitor economy at the recent Lake District National Park Authority’s (LDNPA) Local Plan Examination in Public alongside other bodies including the Lake District Economic Forum, Friends of the Lake District as well as other mainly single issue campaigning groups or individuals. The inspectors interim findings are expected to be published in January 2020.

CT put forward evidence in line with the Executive Board’s response to the consultation. Other views expressed ranged from those that believed the plan provided for unlimited and inappropriate commercialisation throughout the National Park to those that believed the plan limited development to the point where communities were not adequately provided for. Having sat through this examination Dan is confident that the Inspector and the LDNPA will produce a balanced and sensible plan which will provide for appropriate development of businesses and housing while protecting the thing that is all our reason for being here, the fantastic Lake District landscape.

Who will be the tourism trailblazers leading the way in the new decade? World-class businesses from across Cumbria’s £3billion tourism industry are being urged to showcase their stand-out success stories, with the launch of the Cumbria Tourism Awards 2020.

The search is now on to find out who’s setting the standard in a world-renowned visitor economy which supports 63,000 jobs across the county.  With a reputation as the ‘Oscars’ of the tourism sector, the Cumbria Tourism Awards give businesses the chance to highlight the achievements, talents and sheer diversity which make Cumbria’s visitor offer so hard to beat.

Tourism-related businesses have five weeks from today until 5pm on Monday 17 February to enter one or more of the 16 categories and share their successes from the last 12 months.  A wide range of tourism-related businesses are being encouraged to throw their hats in the ring, ranging from restaurants, guesthouses and B&Bs to self-catering accommodation, hotels, retailers and visitor attractions/experiences.

The finalists will be chosen by an independent panel of tourism experts and will have the chance to walk the red carpet at a VIP awards ceremony, taking place at Cartmel Racecourse on Wednesday 15 July. Eligible winners of certain categories will automatically feed up to the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2021, for the chance to gain national recognition.

One of the stand-out accolades on the night will be the Shelia Hensman Award for an ‘unsung hero’, where businesses have the chance to recognise the hard work and dedication of a talented individual who goes the extra mile to create a world-class visitor experience.

The full list of categories for the Cumbria Tourism Awards 2020 includes:

  • Accessible and Inclusive Tourism Award
  • Large Hotel of the Year sponsored by Christie & Co
  • Small Hotel of the Year sponsored by Colliers International
  • B&B and Guest House of the Year sponsored by Lamont Pridmore
  • Self-Catering Accommodation of the Year sponsored by Out of Eden
  • Camping, Glamping & Holiday Park of the Year sponsored by NatWest Commercial Banking
  • Small Visitor Attraction of the Year
  • Large Visitor Attraction of the Year sponsored by H&H Reeds Printworks
  • Pub of the Year
  • Taste of Cumbria Award sponsored by The Cumberland
  • Ethical, Responsible & Sustainable Tourism Award
  • Experience of the Year sponsored by Carlisle and Lake District Airport
  • Makers and Producers Award
  • Wedding Venue of the Year
  • New Tourism Business Award sponsored by Thomson Hayton Winkley
  • The Sheila Hensman Unsung Hero Award

The judges will be looking for tourism businesses that demonstrate excellence and innovation across their products and services including: the visitor welcome, marketing, quality and sustainable / environmental practices.  Winning an award brings substantial benefits including raising a company’s profile, increasing customer confidence and potentially generating additional business.

One of the 2019 winners was Castlerigg Hall Caravan, Camping and Glamping Park at Keswick. Owner David Jackson, said: “We were thrilled to win a Cumbria Tourism award, which we believe is a fabulous showcase for the tourism sector in our amazing county. Applying for the award gave us that additional motivation to keep us looking to improve on the service and product we offer, whilst recognising the hard work and dedication of our team here at Castlerigg Hall’.

Meanwhile, The Regent Hotel in Ambleside won Small Hotel of the Year 2019.

Owner Andrew Hewitt commented; “We’ve been here at Waterhead Bay for almost 40 years, and in that time we’ve witnessed so much growth and development in the tourism sector of the Cumbrian economy. The Cumbria Tourism Awards celebrate the best that our county has to offer and give us all a platform to showcase what we do best, so to be involved in something so prestigious was very exciting!”

 Full details about how to enter and the application forms, entry criteria and terms and conditions can be found at www.cumbriatourism.org/awards.  Businesses do not need to be a member of Cumbria Tourism to apply.

 Cumbria Tourism is grateful to its sponsors for making the competition possible again this year.  They include: headline sponsor United Utilities alongside Carlisle Lake District Airport, Cartmel Racecourse, Christie & Co, Colliers International, The Cumberland, EWGA Wines, H&H Reeds Printworks, Lamont Pridmore, Lawson Design, Out of Eden, NatWest Commercial Banking, Shortridge and Thomson Hayton Winkley.

Indian visitors at The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction™

A group of Cumbrian tourism businesses are heading to two of India’s largest cities next week (13-16 January 2020), to help make the most of the UK’s growing appeal to visitors from one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

The newly launched ‘English Lake District India Forum’ was recently set up by Cumbria Tourism to bring together businesses to collectively target the fast-growing Indian market.

A number of those businesses have now joined together to represent the county on an overseas trade mission.

Tour operators are increasingly co-ordinating visits to key UK locations such as London and Edinburgh, and the aim of the mission is to further raise awareness of our county and ensure the Lake District, Cumbria, becomes a firm fixture on those itineraries.

VisitBritain’s trade mission will be the first trip of its kind involving such a large Lake District contingent and will include a series of face-to-face meetings, workshops and networking events with around 300 influential Indian travel agents and tour operators.

The Cumbrian delegation of thirteen businesses will be part of forty from the UK who are making the trip to Mumbai & Delhi, which accounts for more than 40% of outbound tourism businesses from India to Britain.

The full list heading to the Indian sub-continent includes:

  • Armathwaite Hall Hotel & Spa
  • Cumbria Tourism
  • Gilpin Hotel & Lake House
  • Grasmere Gingerbread®
  • Langdale Hotel
  • Lake District Country Hotels
  • Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway
  • Mountain Goat Tours & Lindeth Howe Hotel
  • Pennington Hotels & Muncaster Castle
  • Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway
  • The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction™
  • Ullswater ‘Steamers’
  • Windermere Lake Cruises

Sales & Marketing Executive at Cumbria Tourism, Francine Bult, will be among those taking part in the Indian trade mission. She says, “India is a region of significant growth and offers some incredible opportunities to help grow our £3billion visitor economy, supporting all year-round tourism and dispersing people to all areas of the county.

“Cumbria Tourism’s renewed India-focus is a key international marketing priority and we are excited to be working with so many like-minded businesses to help forge even stronger links with overseas trade contacts and promote our region to potential visitors from the Indian sub-continent.”

The trade mission is just one part of a busy calendar of activity the English Lake District India Forum have planned for the coming months. Other upcoming plans include the release of a destination video for Indian travel trade, along with a series of targeted online developments and continued one to one meetings and networking sessions with top Indian travel contacts.