Whilst our marketing during the pandemic has been domestically focused, we have been keeping our international markets warm to ensure that as soon as it is time to activate, we are ready.

Over the past few months, we have delivered webinars to operators, assisted with a range of travel trade enquiries, attended PR connect with VisitBritain, and from this month onwards will be attending a series of virtual travel trade events to promote the Lake District, Cumbria.

Britain & Ireland Marketplace (BIM) – January
A virtual full-day B2B workshop meeting with key decision makers from high quality buyers, from bespoke tour operators to key volume drivers – all ready to contract the best of British and Irish tourism products.

MeetEngland Virtual 2021 – February
A new virtual tradeshow for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions, creating valuable business relationships across two days targeting Europe, China, UK, and North America. Does your business venue hold conferences, meetings, events/exhibitions, or incentives? If so, then let us know by emailing campaigns@cumbriatourism.org

ExploreGB Virtual 2021 – March (registered, attendance TBC)
1-day virtual event with pre-scheduled 1-2-1 meetings, seminars, and workshops with buyers from international markets and VisitBritain’s in-market experts. Applications for the event are currently open, click here for more information.

North American Marketplace – March (registered, attendance TBC)
A B2B virtual workshop dedicated to selling Europe to the outbound North American market, bringing together European destinations, travel suppliers and intermediaries with buyers and agents serving the clients from the USA and Canada.

We are looking for anything new or different to share with the travel trade during these events including new products, launches, examples of innovation. Whether your product is targeting Fully Independent Travellers (FITs) to groups, luxury markets to MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions), please get in touch with Francine on campaigns@cumbriatourism.org.

With national and international travel on hold whilst the country awaits the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination programme, people across the UK can visit the Lake District, Cumbria from the comfort of their living rooms this weekend.

Viewers will be eagerly tuning into Channel 5 on Friday evening to watch Scottish comedian Susan Calman explore the best of Cumbria and the Lake District. Starting at Ullswater alongside her trusty campervan Helen, the presenter soon finds herself exploring everything the county has to offer, as well as delving deep into the landscape’s heritage and culture.

The National Park’s scenery plays a starring role, with Susan experiencing Ullswater from the deck of the 19th century ‘Lady of the Lake’ alongside Ullswater ‘Steamers’ skipper Graeme Connacher. Equally stunning views are offered from the panoramic viewing cabin of Joan – the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway’s new panoramic viewing carriage.

“It was fantastic to welcome Susan to the Lake District earlier in the autumn” says Rachel Bell, Head of Marketing and Business Development at Lake District Estates. “It’s been a year like no other but the desire to explore and experience the Cumbrian landscape is stronger than ever, and what better way than from the deck of a ‘Steamer’ and a traditional railway carriage? Both have been firm tourist favourites for hundreds of years and Friday’s programme highlights just some of the many experiences available for visitors to enjoy in the future when restrictions are lifted.”

Susan also takes a step back in time, exploring the grounds and castle at Muncaster – famous not only for their setting and history but also their ghostly connection. Alongside castle owner Peter Frost-Pennington she delves deep into the spooky history of Tom Skelton, the fool of Muncaster rumoured to still haunt its walls to this day.

Gill Haigh, Cumbria Tourism Managing Director says “We know how much our visitors can’t wait to return to the Lake District, Cumbria, and the hospitality sector will welcome them with open arms once the time is right. In the meantime, it’s fantastic to see our county so well-represented onscreen.

 “As well as offering a scenic fix for those unable to visit in person the programme showcases the huge variety of locations and attractions available for visitors to explore later in the year. We’re sure that many will be inspired to get outside and enjoy somewhere new alongside old favourites once they’re able to travel safely and legally.”

Viewers can tune into Channel 5 at 8pm this Friday (15th January) to watch Susan Calman’s Grand Day Out. New and returning visitors can plan their trip, either to follow in Susan’s footsteps or forge their own path, by visiting www.visitlakedistrict.com.

The team at The Honister Slate Mine is using its nationally recognised status as one of Cumbria’s best-known attractions to encourage people to ditch major online retailers in favour of supporting local businesses this Christmas.

The attraction and working slate mine at Fleetwith Pike in the northern Lake District is working with several businesses across the National Park to raise awareness of how local support can help them make it through the winter, after a very challenging year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The #Honisterbuylocalchallenge aims to encourage people to buy local this Christmas by showing them examples of just some of the great products and services on-offer in Cumbria, with the attraction’s campaign being supported on their social media channels through the use of a series of videos, in which businesses directly ask viewers to direct their Christmas shopping efforts locally, to support the retailers and attractions on their own doorsteps.

The attraction’s activities and events coordinator Prentice Wilkinson-Weir says, “We’ve seen a lot of calls being made by local organisations in recent weeks, urging residents to do whatever they can to support our brilliant local businesses as they consider how best to get through the traditionally tough winter season. As Honister is such a well-known business – not just locally, but nationally, we really wanted to use our position to add further weight to those calls.

“Living in Cumbria, we are all hugely fortunate to have such a great range of shops, restaurants and attractions nearby. But it’s also about other businesses that might fly under the radar, from electricians, plumbers and painters, to hairdressers. Everyone has really felt the pinch this year, so we’d like to see businesses of all types supported by the thousands of people who live here. Evening something as simple as purchasing a gift card is such a great help for businesses and every sale gives them that little bit more confidence that they will come out of this pandemic even stronger on the other side.

“In short, it’s never been more important for people to show their appreciation than it is now. Something as simple as buying Christmas gifts locally will play a crucial role in helping the Cumbrian economy to recover in the months and years ahead. So before you jump online, have a look locally first.”

Residents who buy locally this Christmas – from any local business, are being urged to share their shopping experience online by using the hashtag #Honisterbuylocalchallenge.

The first business to get onboard with Honister’s campaign was Alpacaly Ever After, which in 2021 is offering full-day treks with Alpacas in the Lake District mountains as a Christmas gift with a difference. Sally’s Cottages, Lakes Distillery and Windermere Lake Cruises are also getting involved in the campaign.

Prentice continues, “We’re also really excited to offer vouchers for a wide range of experiences on-offer here at Honister, from taking on the UK’s original classic Via Ferrata against the backdrop of the stunning Lake District mountains, or taking a walk among the clouds over our high-wire bridge, 2,000 feet above the valley floor. Thrill-seekers can also join us on an adventure deep into the mine through our underground tunnels and caverns on a Honister Mine Tour. All of our vouchers are valid for a whole year after purchase, so there’s plenty of time to use it too!”

Honister is open every day except December 24 & 25, and New Year’s Day. For further information about what’s on offer this Christmas, visit the website here, email activity@honister.com or call 017687 77230.

South Lakes adventure attraction Treetop Trek is donating 20% of all voucher sales to The Bendrigg Trust, amid concern that activity and adventure charities for the disabled and disadvantaged are suffering after ministers told schools not to take pupils on overnight residential visits.

The Trust specialises in adventure activities for disadvantaged people and those with physical & learning disabilities in Cumbria and will receive £5 from every Treetop Trek £25 voucher purchased between now and the end of the year.

As the team at the Brockhole-based attraction prepares to re-open on 19th December, Managing Director Mike Turner says he hopes the gesture will go some way towards helping the charity to prevent families who rely on their important facilities from missing-out.

Mike says, “Many outdoor residential centres and other similar charities are on their knees at the moment, after the Department for Education’s recent advice against domestic overnight educational visits. As that advice isn’t expected to be reviewed until February, we know that every little helps right now.”

Treetop Trek enjoys a strong relationship with The Bendrigg Trust, who helped them in an advisory role ahead of a £50,000 investment at their Brockhole based attraction, installing specialist breaking and hoisting equipment allowing wheelchair or restricted mobility users safe use of the triple zip wire.

Mike continues, “South Lakes MP Tim Farron is calling on the Government to provide emergency financial support for outdoor education centres, after nearly 3,000 jobs are thought to have already been lost at similar organisations in the last few months. Many people with disabilities don’t have the opportunity to access outdoor activities, so it’s crucial that we protect the services for those who do have the opportunity.

“It is essential that charities like The Bendrigg Trust maintain a strong and sustainable presence in the Lake District.  Not only so that they can continue to deliver their own fantastic experiences but equally, through partnership working, they help businesses like ours to better understand and manage accessibility at all Lake District attractions and experiences.  The accessibility training that the Bendrigg team provide us with has been hugely valuable and has now become embedded in our standard instructor training programme.”

Nick Liley, Principal of Bendrigg Trust says, “We are incredibly grateful to Treetop Trek for their generous support during what is a very difficult time for the outdoor sector. Although we have another challenging year ahead, having support like this gives me confidence that Bendrigg will thrive once more.”

For every £25 spent on Treetop Trek gift vouchers this December, £5 will be donated to the Bendrigg Trust to help it to continue its vital work. Vouchers make great Christmas gifts and also play an important part in helping local businesses recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. You can buy a voucher here.


Did you use lockdown to publish that book you always meant to write? The 2021 Hunter Davies Lakeland Book of the Year is open for entries and the judges are looking for their next winner.

The competition celebrates and showcases the myriad of literature the Lake District inspires each year. Open to any book published in 2020 – set in or featuring Cumbria – the awards attract entries include authors, poets, historians and more following in the footsteps of Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter and countless others whose work has helped put Cumbria on the literary map.

Now in its 37th year, the competition continues to go from strength to strength, with not even the Coronavirus pandemic halting proceedings. “2020 definitely gave us an extra challenge” says Sam Tollerson, awards organiser. “We had to hold the ceremony online for the first time ever! All being well, we’ll be able to meet the authors in person next year as we celebrate their achievements together.”

2020’s winner was The Lake District in 101 Maps and Infographics by David Felton, Evelyn Sinclair and Andrew Chapman, a unique and dazzling collection of facts and statistics shedding light on all aspects of the area’s history, culture and more. Special recognition was also given to local hotelier John Cunliffe’s memoir Slightly Perfect following his passing earlier this year.

Other recent winners have included Alan Cleaver and Lesley Park’s The Corpse Roads of Cumbria in 2019 and Phil Rigby’s photographic collection Portrait of Cumbria in 2018. Many entries also focus on the area’s worldwide reputation for adventure and the outdoors, with Lakeland legend Alfred Wainwright winning in 1985.

Joint 2020 winner David Felton said “Winning Lakeland Book of the Year in 2020 really helped drive interest in – and sales of – my book in what has been a tough year for Cumbrian retail and small independent businesses based in the county. The Lakeland Book of the Year event is always a highlight of the calendar for those of us with a passion for books, for Cumbria – and for both.”

The judges, who all have a background in writing and broadcasting, are:

  • Awards founder Hunter Davies OBE
  • Broadcaster and Cumbria Tourism President, Eric Robson
  • Fiona Armstrong, Lord Lieutenant of Dumfries

The panel will read and shortlist entries before category winners and the overall Book of the Year are announced at a charity event in June, in support of the Stroke Association.

Authors and publishers can learn more about how to enter at www.lakelandbookoftheyear.co.uk or by contacting Cumbria Tourism at info@cumbriatourism.org. The deadline for entries is Friday 26th February 2021.

The Lakeland Book of the Year is generously supported by the Cumbria Community Foundation and the Hunter Davies Fund, which allow the continued celebration of the county’s literary prowess.

Cumbria Tourism provides administration and PR support to the Lakeland Book of the Year alongside external organisers and the judging panel.

Cumbria Tourism’s Managing Director Gill Haigh will address an influential group of MPs and business leaders today, 9 December 2020, with a high-profile speaker slot at a special conference organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration.

With a new set of immigration rules coming into effect in just over three weeks, the event will focus on the challenges and opportunities different types of businesses face in managing their workforce post-Brexit.  Cumbria Tourism has been selected to highlight issues in England’s tourism industry, providing a key opportunity to emphasise some of the unique issues Cumbria faces around its migrant workforce.

Gill Haigh will speak later this afternoon alongside the Federation of Small Businesses, MAKE UK and the City of London Corporation.  MPs from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Migration are also expected to offer their reflections and comments. The discussion will be chaired by the APPG’s Vice Chairman, Westmorland & Lonsdale MP, Tim Farron.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism Gill Haigh says, “It is a privilege to be representing England’s visitor economy at this important event, building on the high-profile lobbying work Cumbria Tourism has done in recent months around the impact and implications of not only the current pandemic, but also wider long-term issues such as skills, recruitment and retention.

European workers are an important asset in our county – and an intrinsic part of our workforce – but the new points-based immigration system will introduce new job, salary and language requirements that will change the way businesses hire from the EU.

“In a post-Brexit era, it is vital that policy-makers fully understand the specific needs of tourism-reliant areas like Cumbria, where a flexible migrant workforce is so integral to supporting some of our key tourism operators, which in turn, support the rest of the workforce locally.

“We know that Cumbria’s tourism businesses are very resilient and will keep adapting and innovating, but the right support must be in place to ensure they can continue accessing the talent and skills they need. This conference is an important opportunity to get these messages across.”

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration will hold its event on the afternoon of Wednesday 9 December.


Many of Cumbria Tourism’s member businesses are reporting a strong showing of national and international as well as resident support for local Cumbrian goods in the run-up to Christmas, after the organisation launched an online marketplace as part of its ongoing ‘Shop Local’ campaign.

The Virtual Christmas Market has been set-up to promote the very best of Cumbria’s local gifts, produce and vouchers to redeem for a range of experiences and breaks which are all bookable online, and builds on efforts made throughout 2020 by businesses who have changed the way they operate in order to remain viable during the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.

Local residents and visitors at home and abroad are being encouraged to support more than 60 different local businesses by purchasing Christmas gifts from the market rather than using large online retailers.

Running until the end of the year on visitlakedistrict.com, the market has won the praise of businesses from across the county, including Dalemain House and Gardens near Ullswater – whose homemade Christmas marmalade is one of the market’s most popular items. Dalemain owner Jane Hasell-McCosh, says, “The virtual market is a wonderful creation. It is fantastic to have a place where people can easily shop for quality, local goods, and we are delighted to be involved and to be in such great company. As our shop at Dalemain has been closed for a large part of the year, online sales have been vital. It has been wonderful to see them increase in the past few months, especially as Christmas approaches!”

Kendal-based business Cable and Blake says Cumbria Tourism’s work to raise awareness of local small businesses’ offerings has resulted in fresh, international orders. Creative Director Rachel Cabble says, “We create and sell locally produced Herdwick fabrics and products that have been inspired by the surrounding Lake District landscape, from our base in Kendal. We have a small shop but obviously this year we have been far more reliant on online sales of our fabric and Herdwick products like cushions, lampshades and hats. The lockdowns have given us more of an opportunity to focus on our marketing and online sales and Cumbria Tourism has been instrumental in helping us to grow locally, nationally and internationally. We have seen our online sales grow dramatically and we have also received our first international order from Italy, which was very exciting!”

The virtual market also gives people from further afield the chance to pick-up unique gifts, as well as having the flexibility to redeem vouchers for a range of experiences, dining out and visits on a future date.

Nicola Lawson, Curator, Keswick Museum, adds, “We are very grateful to Cumbria Tourism for the opportunity to get involved. This year has been challenging for all local businesses and attractions, but Cumbria Tourism has come up with a creative way of showcasing the fantastic things that are still on offer around the county, and we really appreciate the support everyone has shown us by adopting a museum object.”

The initiative is part of Cumbria Tourism’s #theperfectplacetobe Recovery Marketing Campaign, designed to help tourism and hospitality businesses affected by more than £1.7billion in lost income following the impact of Covid-19.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “I’m really pleased to hear such positive feedback from our member businesses about our virtual Christmas market and we’re delighted to hear that Cumbria fans from across the UK and even international friends, as well as local residents, are continuing to support businesses in the run-up to Christmas, as they have been doing since the first lockdown period began. I’d urge anyone who’s not taken a look at the market yet, to do so and pick-up a great gift while there’s still plenty of time.”

It is free for Cumbria Tourism members to get involved, with non-members able to set up a virtual stall for just £30. All businesses need is the ability to transact online, plus an image and 20 words to describe each item they are selling. For more information, email campaigns@cumbriatourism.org

Responding to Matt Hancock’s announcement in the House of Commons today, the Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says:

“Cumbria’s tourism industry thrives on welcoming visitors and providing first-class hospitality. It has been hit hard financially by the challenges of recent months, so it’s good to see the majority of our businesses out of lockdown and getting back to what they do best – albeit in a more limited way.

“At the same time, it’s a major concern that some businesses, such as wet-led pubs, will not be able to open. Some of the areas Cumbria traditionally draws on for its visitors are also facing tougher restrictions, with government advice not to travel from some parts of the North West, North East, Yorkshire and the Midlands. Dealing with this adds to the complexities and challenges facing businesses on a day-to-day basis, on top of the huge raft of measures they have already undertaken to ensure they are COVID-safe and ‘good to go’.

“Cumbria Tourism is grateful for the extension of the furlough scheme and other financial support, which we lobbied hard for, but these schemes in no way recompense the income already lost this year – a total of £1.86billion across our county, which is more than 60% of our visitor economy’s total annual value.

“We will continue to work alongside regional and national industry partners to ensure businesses are adequately supported throughout this unprecedented situation. Further businesses closures would be devastating not only for owners, but also to staff, their families and the wider community.

“At this time, the ‘support local’ message is more important than ever, and we are also encouraging Cumbrian residents to make the most of what’s on their doorstep. Cumbria is blessed with many wide-open spaces, not only stunning mountains and lakes but also parks, historic houses and more. Cumbria looks forward to welcoming both visitors and locals in line with all the latest guidelines. Our county truly has something for everyone, and every penny spent at a local business goes towards supporting communities and jobs.

“The situation is ever-changing, with a review scheduled for 16th December. We are hopeful for an improved situation to enable increased trading over the Christmas and New Year period and will monitor the situation closely.”


In this year of inconceivable challenge for the tourism sector, who are the shining stars within your business and how can you support their growth and development?

Cumbria Tourism is teaming up with the University of Cumbria – one of its Strategic Partners – to promote two new scholarships to two deserving individuals from the county’s tourism industry, for its internationally popular MBA in Tourism Management.

The scholarship would waive 50% of fees, which can be taken over one or two years – meaning a saving of £6000.

Cumbria Tourism is delighted to be partnering with the University to help identify nominations for the scholarships and is inviting businesses to nominate staff members that they would like to be considered. Individuals can also nominate themselves.

The deadline for nominations is Monday 7 December. A panel including both the University of Cumbria and Cumbria Tourism industry experts will make the selection and notify successful candidates the same week, with a view to starting the programme from 11 January 2021.  Nominations should be submitted online HERE.

In addition to the two scholarships, the University is also supporting the local talent pool by offering 17% off its MBA programme to any Cumbrian participant. (Any nominees not successful for the 50% scholarship will be immediately eligible for the 17% benefit).

This is a fantastic opportunity to support staff to develop more flexible, dynamic and positive approaches to upskilling the tourism industry, boosting productivity and finding innovative ways to respond to continuing uncertainty.

Dr Angela Anthonisz is Principal Lecturer in Tourism Management at the University. She says, “Workforce challenges are a huge issue for the tourism sector, exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19 and concerns around potential post-Brexit restrictions on skilled workers from the EU, as well as outdated perceptions of careers in the tourism and hospitality industry.

“This is the UK’s first postgraduate MBA in Tourism Management, launched this year to help graduates work towards the highest-level jobs the sector can offer. The MBA has already had strong international appeal and we are now keen to ensure our brilliant Cumbrian businesses and sector superstars also reap the rewards.”

 Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, adds, “This year of all years has proved how important it is to be continually resilient and flexible, to have the skills to adapt businesses and bring teams with you in order not only to survive crisis and challenge, but to use the experiences as a catalyst for growth and productivity.

 “We are hugely proud of how Cumbria’s tourism and hospitality businesses have adapted this year and it is fitting that the county’s very own university is recognising this effort and talent through this generous sponsorship award.”