Cumbria Tourism, which has been lobbying for a package of winter support for the sector, has welcomed this afternoon’s announcements by the chancellor Rishi Sunak, as a step in the right direction.

The key announcement was that VAT will be temporarily cut from now until 12 January 2021, down from 20% to 5% for hospitality and tourism businesses. This applies to the food and drink sector, accommodation providers and attractions, and will benefit more than 150,000 businesses and their customers nationwide.

Describing the move by the chancellor as a “welcome direction” to aid the UK’s long road towards recovery in the aftermath of the economic effects of Covid-19, Cumbria’s official destination management organisation hopes it will bring much needed support to many businesses, as well as incentivising visitors, in the next few months.

Cumbria Tourism has been calling for an extension to the furlough scheme, however the Government has announced this will wind-down by October. Whilst the chancellor did introduce a new policy to incentivise employers to bring staff back to work with the new jobs retention scheme via £1,000 per employee who returns to work until January next year, the fear is that this will not go far enough to protect many thousands of the jobs at risk.

Further measures to get the tourism and hospitality sector moving includes the government’s “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme, designed to get customers back into cafes, pubs and restaurants. From August, every household will be entitled to dine at a discount at participating businesses, where meals from Monday to Wednesday will be sold at a 50% discount (of up £10), including children’s meals and non-alcoholic drinks.

Vice Chair of Cumbria Tourism, Dan Visser, says, “Cumbria Tourism has been lobbying hard to secure a winter package and listened keenly to today’s announcement.

“Our businesses have been working very hard behind the scenes to be able to re-open in a Covid-secure manner, with many of them qualifying to display the ‘We’re Good to Go’ quality stamp by VisitEngland, which means they have met the criteria to responsibly welcome visitors back.

“This afternoon’s announcements offer a series of positive initiatives and I am hopeful that the VAT and voucher announcements will result in increased demand for food, accommodation and attraction providers, which should be a real boost for our sector. We hope to see these moves stimulate demand and build on the good work that has been done by businesses already.”

The chancellor also announced a £2bn “kickstart scheme” to create more jobs for young people, which Cumbria Tourism hopes will help to bolster the local workforce.

Cumbria Tourism’s Managing Director Gill Haigh says, “Although the past weekend has gone reasonably well for the sector, overall demand hasn’t been anywhere near where we need it to be at this time of year. While some businesses have reported encouraging signs in recent days, there are many others which say the number of visitors is still a long way from where it needs to be. This extra support announced by the chancellor today is welcome and it will, we hope, support an immediate boost. However, it doesn’t remove business concerns about when the furlough scheme comes to an end.

“Cumbria is heavily reliant on tourism, which inevitably meant we had some of the highest furlough rates, so it’s encouraging that the government has listened to our lobbying and heard the concerns of our brilliant businesses across the county. However, it is absolutely essential that some businesses do not fall through the cracks again.

“Over the coming weeks and months, Cumbria Tourism will very closely monitor visitor volume and value as well as the impacts of the chancellor’s announcements, and we will be sharing our findings with the government on a regular basis so they can hear first-hand how well these new measures are working for this critical sector, which not only benefits those working in the industry, but every single person who lives here too.” 

This week, local MP Tim Farron, Cumbria Tourism and its hospitality leaders from the Lake District, Cumbria, held a call with Tourism Minister Nigel Huddlestone to make the case for long-term support for the hospitality and tourism industry.

Tim and Cumbria Tourism’s Managing Director Gill Haigh were joined by Nigel Wilkinson, Managing Director of Windermere Lake Cruises, Dan Visser, Director of Langdale Estate, Mike Turner, Director of Treetop Trek, and Jim Walker from Lake District Estates.

The group made a presentation to the minister, underlining the impact Covid-19 has had on the industry and continues to have as businesses and visitors adapt to the new normal. The panel thanked the Government for its support to date but made it clear that further grants and wage support would be critical to help businesses in the sector survive through to Spring of next year.

The Tourism Minister said that “there could be additional measures to give some boost to hospitality and tourism that may be sector specific.”

Speaking after the meeting, Tim said: “We had a very positive meeting with the minister who was really supportive of our case.

“The support we’ve had from the Government so far has been really welcome, but we do really need that extra support if jobs and businesses are going to make it through the Winter.”

Gill Haigh, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism said: “We’re very grateful to Tim for arranging this meeting and to Nigel Huddleston for taking the time to hear our concerns on the impact of Coronavirus to our industry and the actions now required to support businesses through the next stages. Whilst many have now opened and are seeking to make the most of what’s left of the summer season the lost four months, coupled with lower capacities due to social distancing, mean that tourism businesses urgently require assurances of long term support through to 2021.”

Nigel Wilkinson, who also sits on the Board of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP) and leads CLEP’s work on the visitor economy added: “Our sector is facing the equivalent of three consecutive winter seasons and unless programmes are put in place to retain jobs and skills within the sector beyond October, to increase training opportunities and to market the county to new audiences and extend the main season, Cumbria will be facing widespread redundancies and the loss of key skills that cannot easily be replaced.”

The group also took the opportunity to welcome this week’s announcement of £1.57 bn of funding for the cultural sector and were reassured by the Minister’s commitment that this funding would be extended to all relevant institutions and venues and is not swallowed by the “London Bubble”.

Castlerigg Stone circle

As the tourism and hospitality sector begins to re-open this week, Cumbria Tourism has paid tribute to the industry for the way it has supported communities over the last three months and the careful preparations it has made as they begin to be able to welcome visitors and customers once more.

Covid-19 has cost Cumbria’s tourism economy £1.6 billion so far this year, more than half the total value of last year’s total contribution, and there is a long road to recovery lying ahead for hundreds of businesses and the more than 65,000 people employed in the crucial sector.

Based on its visitor research the official destination management organisation has developed a campaign that encourages local people to back tourism businesses and welcomes our visitors to begin to return. The campaign highlights the extraordinary lengths businesses have gone to in order to ensure safe, positive and enjoyable visits – huge numbers have already signed-up to VisitEngland’s “We’re Good to Go” seal of approval scheme, which reflects the government guidance businesses must adhere to. Cumbria Tourism’s own research shows 78% of people would feel more confident visiting businesses with some sort of visual certification as Covid-secure.

Cumbria Tourism has featured on national and regional TV and radio in recent days to raise awareness of the need for visitors to “Know Before You Go”, spreading key messages about the need to plan-ahead. The organisation is also using the exposure to drive people to its new visitor website, visitlakedistrict.com which offers advice for planning ahead and things to do once here.

President of Cumbria Tourism, Eric Robson, says, “Cumbria’s economy is hugely reliant on visitors. The Government says now is the time to re-open businesses with the wellbeing of both visitors and residents a top priority. Over the last few months businesses have gone to extreme lengths to make important changes to support safe and enjoyable visitor experiences. The ‘new normal’ affects us all, and we have a collective responsibility to safeguard wellbeing and protect jobs. While many visitors may not return immediately, planning ahead and booking now will be a tremendous help, and of course we are also encouraging visitors to support other local businesses like smaller shops and post offices, for example, while they are here.

“In addition to accommodation, many attractions also now need to be pre-booked, while some have timed or staggered entry in place, so always check first. Cumbria Tourism is a not-for-profit organisation, so by booking via visitlakedistrict.com or directly with businesses, visitors from the local area and further afield will all be directly helping our economy to recover.

“The Lake District, Cumbria, is the perfect place to reflect, to reconnect, rediscover, recharge and to reinvigorate after a very difficult start to the year. There’s no escaping the fact that social distancing is likely to become a way of life for the foreseeable future though, so a joined-up approach with local authority partners, public health officials and businesses will be required for quite some time. With that in-mind, we are working hard to publicise the fact that Cumbria is open for business and good to go!

“As Cumbria Tourism, we represent the whole county and continue to urge our visitors to explore beyond the boundary of our famous Lake District and to support local businesses whenever possible. We have many areas much more off the beaten track to explore and open spaces to enjoy and will continue to use our ‘attract and disperse’ messaging to help people discover areas of our world class landscape they may never have seen before, along with attractions, experiences, activities and adventure, food and drink, heritage, arts, and culture.”

At the weekend, Cumbria Tourism teamed-up with local MPs to visit many of Cumbria’s attractions and accommodation providers, eateries and other venues to help bring additional attention and focus to the reopening of the sector. This week, Cumbria Tourism will also meet Tourism Minister, Neil Huddleston, thanks to support from Tim Farron MP.

“We will ensure we use this opportunity to leave the Minister in no doubt about the scale of the challenge and the urgent long term support package required”, Eric added.

With large parts of the tourism sector beginning to re-open over the weekend, Cumbria Tourism joined several of the county’s MPs on a tour of local businesses to witness first-hand, the steps which have been taken to keep the health and wellbeing of visitors at the top of the agenda.

Also joined by members of the organisation’s Board of Directors, more than 20 businesses across the county were paid a visit to help raise awareness of their official “We’re Good To Go” seal of approval from VisitEngland; A stamp of assurance which is being used to spread the message among potential visitors that the county is ready to welcome them back over the rest of the summer, autumn and winter months.

Taking-in businesses from serviced and non-serviced accommodation, camping and caravanning, food and drink, indoor and outdoor attractions, as well as culture and heritage, the tour was used to restore confidence and highlight Cumbria as the perfect place to visit after a difficult first half of 2020.

Cumbria Tourism Chair Jim Walker says, “We wanted to join our MPs on this tour to mark the beginning of what is a critical phase for our industry and to show potential visitors how seriously our businesses take their wellbeing. The tours, co-ordinated by Cumbria Tourism, also provided a great opportunity for our local MPs to hear from operators throughout the county about the huge challenges the industry is currently facing and the work that is going on to start to open again.

“Our MPs were really interested in every effort that’s being made at more than twenty businesses which were visited. We hope the tour also provided a real insight into the losses suffered by businesses so far, and the help they need from the government to prevent further hardship. This tour also followed a recent petition which Cumbria Tourism jointly launched with Tim Farron MP, calling for a new package of financial aid. The businesses which took part in the weekend’s tour are fully behind those calls and it was absolutely essential for our MPs hear the concerns from those businesses first-hand so they can ensure the issues are heard at the highest level.”

MPs on the tour included Simon Fell, Neil Hudson, Mark Jenkinson, John Stephenson and Tim Farron – the latter of whom visited Grasmere Gingerbread, Castle Green Hotel, Dome House B&B, Tree Top Trek, Skelwith Fold Caravan Park and The Coppermines and Lakes Cottages.

Meanwhile, Mark Jenkinson, MP for Workington and the surrounding area got off to a head start on his tour early with a visit to the Lake District Calvert Trust on Friday morning where he was met by Justin Farnan, a director of Cumbria Tourism and a manager at the charity, along with trustee Stuart Lothian.

Cumbria Tourism Chair Jim Walker joined Neil Hudson MP and John Stevenson MP in North Cumbria, during which they visited English Heritage staff at Carlisle Castle and The Halston Aparthotel where Mr Stevenson heard about the accommodation’s vital work in hosting key workers to date, along with the dynamic and innovative way in which the Directors are responding to the impact of the crisis. The Tranquil Otter luxury lodges, Askham Hall, Tullie House, Lanercost, Artlegarth Lodges and Ullswater Steamers were also included in their tours.

Cumbria Tourism Director Carl Bevan joined Simon Fell MP on a tour of the Ulverston, Barrow and Walney area, which included West Point House, Holiday Inn Express, the Sandscale Haws National Trust nature reserve, the Laurel & Hardy museum and Shed 1 Distillery.

All businesses were invited to join the celebrations by posting photographs on social media using the hashtags #theperfectplacetobe and #weregoodtogo. The tour was also covered on Cumbria Tourism’s own social media channels throughout the day. You can see photographs of the tour and participating businesses on Cumbria Tourism’s social media channels by searching for the hashtag #protecttourismjobs.

The tour ended with the firing of a cannon at Low Wood Bay Resort & Spa: A symbolic event to signify the end of more than three months of lockdown, marking the rebirth of The Lake District, Cumbria, as the perfect place to visit this summer – and all year-round.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “It was fantastic to be able to join our MPs on this tour of Cumbria, during a crucial re-opening weekend of activity. It gave the MPs the chance to see each business in action, as well as giving them the opportunity to see how their hard work in recent months is now being put to good use, to enable visitors to be welcomed back. It also gave them a first-hand insight into the work that still needs to be done, but also reassurance that the determination to succeed here in Cumbria is stronger now than it ever has been. The Board of Directors and myself would like to say a huge thank you to our MPs and all participating businesses for their involvement in this tour as we move into the next chapter for the tourism sector right across the county.”

Destination Management Organisations from across the country have joined together to back a campaign encouraging government to ensure the tourism sector is supported through Winter 2020.

Last month a petition was launched by Tim Farron MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale alongside Cumbria Tourism, the county’s destination management organisation, asking visitors, businesses and partners to show their backing for a government winter support package. The petition has quickly gained momentum including support from cross party politicians as well as National Park leaders. Now, Destination Management Organisations the length and breadth of the country are adding their weight.

Malcolm Bell, Managing Director of Visit Cornwall said: “Hospitality and tourism is critical to our local economy, here in Cornwall one in three private sector jobs are in the visitor economy and this crisis has been devastating to thousands of businesses.  Having lost most of the 2020 season and summer trade though welcome is only going to be damage limitation as these businesses are now facing three winters in a row.”

James Mason, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire said: “The Tourism industry in Yorkshire is worth £9billion and employs 225,000 people. It is a huge part of the Yorkshire economy and as England’s biggest county we are able to attract huge numbers of domestic and international tourists coming for our countryside and coast, national parks and vibrant cities, history and heritage as well as our arts and cultural offering. We stand shoulder to shoulder with every other major DMO in the country in the request for support so that we can provide the support and confidence to thousands of businesses struggling now and give them the opportunity to survive this period and return to profit when the sector returns to its former position.”

Chris Brown, Chief Executive of Marketing Liverpool, added: “As destination management organisations we have worked together to support businesses over the last four months and more and it is clear that what all of our businesses have in common is the urgent need for confirmation of an extension of existing government support into the winter. This will provide the confidence to businesses who are struggling to make their businesses viable and give them a chance to be able to stand on their own two feet again next Spring.”

Managing Director of Marketing Peak District and Derbyshire said: “The coronavirus crisis has had a devastating impact on the Peak District and Derbyshire’s £2.3 billion visitor economy, and our hard-hit tourism and hospitality businesses have already missed out on a large part of the critical summer season. Whilst many businesses are eager to reopen, the restrictions in place mean it will be difficult for them to sustain their offer as they all juggle financial viability with limits on capacity and levels of investment to adapt their business. Without a winter package of long-term financial support, many businesses and associated jobs will simply not survive.”

Rachel McQueen, Chief Executive of Marketing Lancashire, said: “We have been very grateful for the government support made available to date, however, too many of our businesses are still falling through the gaps and some have already sadly had to close. We have to secure a longer term package of support to make sure that all the effort these businesses have put in to weather the initial storm isn’t simply wasted as they struggle through the winter.”

Sheona Southern, Managing Director from Marketing Manchester highlighted: “City destinations are also facing a very tough period ahead: hotels in Manchester are forecasting a slump to 30% occupancy levels through the autumn and winter, when they would normally trade at 80%. This will have a massive impact on the wider Tourism, Hospitality & Leisure economy, as cities are often the gateway for visitors to explore the wider region. It is therefore vital that Government provides destination organisations with an appropriate package of support that enables them to address local issues and priorities.”

South Lakes MP Tim Farron said: “I’m massively grateful to tourism leaders from right across the country for adding their support to the campaign. This is very much a national issue with hospitality currently the UK’s 4th biggest employer. I am in regular conversation with MPs from across the House about gathering cross-party support so we can continue to push the Government to help this crucial industry through the winter.”

Gill Haigh, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism said: “Throughout this crisis, Cumbria Tourism and our fellow Destination Management partners across the country have worked tirelessly to support tens of thousands of businesses. We share a common understanding not only of the challenges these businesses face but also the critical importance they play to local economies and place. That is why we are uniting in our call to government to work with us to help ensure businesses can survive, save jobs and be able to play a strong part in the UK’s economic recovery.”

Ben Beetham, Inspired Energy

Ready for business? I am ready to help!

By Ben Beetham, Director of Partnerships at Inspired Energy

It’s been twelve working weeks since lockdown measures were introduced across the UK and thousands of businesses have been desperately looking into the most effective way to cutting costs, in order to survive the Coronavirus crisis. Now, as many begin to reopen for business, there is some key information I’d like to share with you.

Managing costs is important for any business, but during a crisis, resilience is key to your recovery. 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.

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? At Inspired Energy plc, 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 lights on over closure? 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.

Take advantage of current market lows

Energy prices fluctuate daily and can be affected by a whole host of factors, including demand, weather conditions and political factors. Due to the current market, wholesale energy costs are extremely low – in fact, prices have only been this low once in the last 10 years, meaning that now is the perfect time for smart business owners to act quickly and secure a better tariff.

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

Castlerigg Stone circle

Cumbria Tourism, the county’s Destination Management Organisation, has welcomed today’s Government announcements regarding the reopening of the industry, which it says will bring incredible relief for hundreds of Cumbria’s businesses and thousands of employees.

Jim Walker, Chair of the organisation which represents approximately 2,500 member businesses, said: “By 4 July the county’s hospitality sector will have been closed for three and a half months, during the busiest part of the year, with close to £2bn lost from the county’s economy and hundreds of jobs lost with thousands more at risk. Our evidence to government was clear that the difference between 2m and 1m was the difference between operating viably and not and today’s relaxation announcement will make a significant difference to business viability and save local jobs. Cumbria Tourism has stood firm alongside the health professionals and police when this was required to protect the health of local residents and we are now keen for a safe and phased recovery towards some type of normality to begin.”

Gill Haigh, Managing Director added: “I am particularly proud of the sector’s response throughout this pandemic, locking down sometimes large and complex businesses overnight, safeguarding communities, adapting business models where possible to support jobs and provide much needed services to the community, supplying accommodation for Covid-19 key workers, and rigorous planning to develop innovative approaches and collaborating with one another to ensure staff and customer safety combined with enjoyable  and memorable experiences. We await the government guidance which, at long last, will allow them to make the final preparations before reopening a week on Saturday.

 “Now, at long, long last, we look forward to warmly welcoming back our visitors and working with them to ensure they take additional measures themselves, alongside businesses, to be guaranteed safe and enjoyable experiences. This will include planning ahead, booking in advance, thinking about where to visit and when, paying by contactless, washing hands regularly, keeping to the social distancing guidelines. We also welcome the new national visitor reassurance accreditation scheme which Cumbria Tourism has championed and as Destination Management Organisation for the county, have been tasked by Visit England, to help roll out throughout Cumbria.

 “Inevitably we don’t expect is a sudden return to normal, it will be phased. Our visitor research tells us that only about half feel confident to return immediately. That’s why Cumbria Tourism’s Recovery Campaign – ‘The Perfect Place’ – encourages us all to do what we can to support our tourism sector, to think about planning our holidays at home this year, when the time is right; to invite our friends and families to reconnect, to recharge and to rediscover what’s on our doorstep; to reinvigorate by trying new experiences and explore more; as well as to continue our lockdown passion for buying local food, drink and crafts.

 “We are very lucky to have a large rural location with many off the beaten track areas which makes social distancing easier. We are the perfect place to recharge, reconnect, reflect and rediscover. And with less than half of the main season left, and with stringent safety measures in place, it is important now that we  get behind our businesses, support local jobs, and back the industry that underpins many of our communities and ways of life too.”

 

Books

Due to be held virtually for the first time in its 36 year history, this year’s Lakeland Book of the Year Awards may look different but what hasn’t changed is the staggering breadth and depth of literature inspired by the scenery, history and people of Cumbria and the Lake District.

From fascinating and meticulously researched histories of the area, amazing stories of Lake District characters and top-quality fiction, the Lake District has inspired generations of writers since the time of Wordsworth. 200 years after the birth of this Lakeland icon, the competition recognises the effort of these authors each year, celebrating and highlighting their output over the previous 12 months.

The 60 entries, all published in 2019, have now been whittled down to a shortlist of just 18. Now all that remains is the unveiling of the six category winners, with one then being crowned the overall book of the year 2020.

Due to Coronavirus restrictions the 2020 winners will be announced virtually, with judges Hunter Davies OBE, Cumbria Tourism President Eric Robson and broadcaster Fiona Armstrong coming together through the power of the internet to discuss this year’s entries before crowning one book with the overall title of Book of the Year 2020.

Hunter Davies, awards founder and judge says “Lockdown with Lakeland Books, this is your big chance, hurry hurry. Find out which books are on the short lists and which are the winners of the 2020 Lakeland Book of the Year Awards.”

Cumbria Tourism MD Gill Haigh added “Whilst the Coronavirus pandemic has affected every aspect of society it’s fantastic to see such the Cumbrian institution that is the Lakeland Book of the Year adapting to these difficult times, and I’d like to warmly thank all the sponsors who continue to make it possible through these difficult times. The annual ceremony is a highlight of the county’s calendar and whilst it is of course a shame not to celebrate the authors in person, moving the ceremony online means that we can bring together Lake District and literature lovers from across the globe later this month.

“I’m glad I don’t have the difficult task of choosing this year’s winner, every book on this year’s shortlist explores a different part of Cumbria. Anyone who reads one of these finalists will be inspired to visit our county for themselves once it is safe to do so.”

 

The 2020 shortlist is:

The Striding Edge Prize for Guides and Places

Bob’s Jottings by Bob Jopling

Grasmere: A History in 55 ½ Buildings by Grasmere History Society

Knockupworth – The Story of a Family by John Bainbridge

 

The Bill Rollinson Prize for Landscape and Tradition

Hows and Knotts: A Guide to Lakeland Views by Guy Richardson

I Hate the Lake District by Charlie Gere

Lake District Bouldering by Greg Chapman

 

The Latitude Press Prize for Illustration and Presentation

Cumbria at War by Ruth Mansergh

Embellish with Relish by Maria Whitehead

The Lake District in 101 Maps & Infographics by David Felton

 

The Bookends Prize for Literature and Poetry

A Peopled Landscape by Stephen Matthews

The Cumberland Bard: Robert Anderson by Sue Allan

The Magpie’s Nest by Taffy Thomas

 

People & Business

Slightly Perfect by John Cunliffe

A Pennington Pepys (Extracts from The Commonplace & Diaries of William Fleming) by John Graeme Livingstone

My Dad’s Army: The White Gurkhas by Ian Wilson

 

Fiction

Out of the Deep by Ruth Sutton

Secrets of the Flock by J.B. Browne

Two Days in May by David Clemson

 

The awards, one of the most prestigious of their kind outside London, are kindly supported by the Cumbria Community Foundation Hunter Davies Fund, Striding Edge, Bookends, the Bill Rollinson Award Association and Latitude Press Ltd.

Literature lovers will be able to tune into watch the announcement on the 30th June at 2pm by visiting www.lakelandbookoftheyear.co.uk on 30 June, with the news shared by @lakesbookawards on Twitter and Cumbria Tourism’s Facebook page.

While Cumbria Tourism continues to support hundreds of tourism businesses as they prepare to re-open, it has conducted a national survey sponsored by The Cumberland Building Society to better understand visitor attitudes towards the county.

Forming a vital part of the organisation’s research into consumers’ future travel habits, questions ranged from the kind of measures visitors would like to see in-place during their trip, to the areas they would feel most at ease.

While confidence in the county as a visitor destination remains high with 83% considering Cumbria to be a safe place to visit, 44% of respondents said that while they do plan to visit in the future, they are going to wait a little longer before making any decisions.

The survey results show that visitors want to embrace responsible tourism, with 98% expecting to witness regular cleaning in operation, while 96% would like easy access to hand sanitiser stations. A further 92% would take comfort in seeing social distancing signage and rules, with overwhelming support for limits on visitor numbers and reserving places in advance at attractions. 78% of respondents also say they would be confident about visiting businesses which have signed up to a national accreditation scheme, to demonstrate their commitment to good hygiene and public safety measures.

Businesses are 100% committed continuing to work very hard behind the scenes to welcome visitors back, after the government set 4 July as the target date to begin reopening the hospitality, tourism and leisure sectors – carefully considering the best way to put people’s safety at the heart of their rigorous assessments and plans. Restaurants, for example, will see changes made in kitchens to ensure chefs remain two metres apart, while accommodation providers are factoring in social distancing, enhanced cleaning regimes and contactless check-in and check-out procedures.

The survey also found more than 90% of respondents would feel safe visiting outdoor places like parks, gardens and villages in the coming weeks. To that end, businesses whose offer includes open green spaces are also taking steps to ensure they can open safely. Visitors too, will need to think differently. Planning visits in advance, checking and booking ahead, and thinking about travel arrangements as well as eating and drinking must all be considered.

The survey also found the appetite for visits to less well-known and quieter parts of Cumbria has increased. There is encouraging news for the hospitality trade too, with 70% saying they would feel safe in hotels, guesthouses and B&B accommodation, as well as at visitor attractions with both indoor and outdoor facilities.

Over the next 12 months around 50% said they expect to take more day trips and overnight stays in the UK than usual. A further 54% said they expect to take fewer trips abroad, switching to a domestic break instead.

The research was carried-out primarily via Cumbria Tourism’s visitor database and social media channels, with a combined reach of hundreds of thousands of people.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “This is all about safety for everyone, from our visitors to residents, staff and wider communities. When you consider what the country has been through over the last 12 weeks, it is clear that The Lake District, Cumbria is viewed as a perfect place to recharge and reconnect with loved-ones. Confidence in Cumbria’s responsible approach to tourism will continue, with the health and safety of our residents, visitors and workers absolutely paramount.

“These findings will prove very valuable to help meet the expectations of our visitors. We would like to thank the thousands of people who responded, all of whom have played a really important role in our ongoing work to help businesses recover from a very difficult start to the year. We can now use this information to inform local businesses of the best-practices they can adopt to meet the evolving needs of their visitors, as well being very useful to help businesses inform their own marketing campaigns.”

The survey was sponsored by The Cumberland Building Society, whose Senior Business Lending Manager Grant Seaton says: “We are delighted that we have been able to support such a worthwhile and insightful survey which will help hospitality businesses to plan their reopening and offer the best possible experience to visitors.  It is really encouraging to see that the results show that people do wish to return and that they are making considered decisions with everybody’s wellbeing in mind.  It’s positive news for businesses, the communities they are based in and also for all of the visitors who want to enjoy Cumbria again.”