Cumbria Tourism’s new Managing Director Gill Haigh has taken up her role at the helm of the county’s official tourism destination marketing organisation today, Monday 18 September 2017.

Cumbria’s tourism sector is worth more than £2.72 billion to the local economy – supporting around 63,000 jobs – and Cumbria Tourism is the county’s largest membership organisation representing 2,500 tourism businesses.

Gill Haigh joins the organisation following her most recent role as Director of Marketing and Recruitment at the University of Cumbria. During her 25 year career in marketing and communications, she has gained substantial leadership experience across both the private and public sectors, including travel and tourism.

Gill says, “I’m proud to be taking up this new role at one of the leading destination marketing organisations nationally. Potential visitors have ever more choice about where to spend their time and money, but there are many opportunities too.

That is why it’s so important that Cumbria Tourism continues to deliver on its incredible track record of attracting visitors to the county and supporting businesses through its range of digital, marketing, research and PR support services.

“One of my top priorities will be looking at how we reach out to new and emerging markets both domestically and internationally, drawing on the kudos of having two World Heritage Sites in the county. It is also essential that the organisation continues to work together with the industry to influence key policy-makers and ensure that regional and national decision-making and infrastructure supports the needs of our £2.72billion visitor sector.

“I will be getting out across the county in the coming weeks to meet with Cumbria Tourism members and to listen to their views. I am looking forward to working with a range of businesses and other strategic partners to help devise new ways not just to attract visitors, but to encourage them to stay longer, explore more and increase their spend.”

Gill lives near Kirkby Lonsdale with her husband and two children. Her previous jobs include a senior local government position, heading up destination marketing and tourism services for Lancaster City Council. She also spent four years as North West Public Relations Manager for the National Farmers’ Union, having begun her career as a journalist.



An award-winning aparthotel in Carlisle has been recognised by the national tourist board with its highest accolade.

The Halston Aparthotel has received a 5-star rating from VisitEngland, making the city-centre venue Cumbria’s first Serviced Apartment provider of this standard.

VisitEngland’s five-star rating is given to accommodation providers which excel in all areas of hospitality and customer service.

The Halston has been open for only three years, but has already made a major impact on the hospitality and tourism industry in Carlisle. This year it was named Self-Catering Provider of the Year at the 2017 Cumbria Tourism awards and achieved Superior status by Quality Cumbria assessors.

2017 has also seen major investment into The Halston, with The Halston Townhouses opening in July. The six townhouse apartments are situated 50 yards from the aparthotel and offer one and two bed apartments. Autumn will also see the opening of a new restaurant and lounge, Penny Blue, in addition to Bartons Yard their already popular, on-site bistro.

There are also plans for an extension to the main, former post office building. On the site of the old Lonsdale Cinema, the team at The Halston have plans for 18 brand-new rooms, a new reception and an elevated glass walkway between the future and existing buildings.

Co-Owner of The Halston, Dominique Harrison says, “Five-star status is a tremendous accolade for the The Halston and we are delighted to have been recognised by VisitEngland. This wouldn’t have been possible without the continued passion and dedication of our staff. In only three years it’s been amazing to see the business grow and evolve year on year.”

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Jim Walker adds, “It is so good to see The Halston’s dedication and investment being rewarded with five-star status by VisitEngland. This is great news not only for The Halston as a business, but also for the city of Carlisle and the tourism industry in Cumbria as a whole.
“It is essential that businesses continue to innovate and raise standards to stay competitive and not only meet but exceed customer expectations; The Halston is a prime example of this.”

To book or to find out more about The Halston, Bartons Yard and Penny Blue visit
Notes to Editors:

Please contact Catherine Taylor, PR Executive on 01539 825019 or for:

  • Further information
  • High-res images
  • Press trip opportunities (The Halston is also pleased to welcome commissioned press trips, with a view to produce hotel reviews / travel-related features)
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The Halston (Quality Cumbria Superior and Cumbria Tourism Awards, Self-Catering Provider of the Year) offers luxury self-catering accommodation with a hotel feel in Carlisle city centre. As well as Barton’s Yard bar & bistro, a fully equipped spa, dog friendly rooms, wedding venue and multi-use meeting and events space.

Coming Soon – Penny Blue: Located in the old post office building on the ground floor of The Halston Aparthotel. Penny Blue will have a modern tapas menu as well as a grill menu and the bar will offer a range of original and classic cocktails, an extensive spirit menu, gin bar and a handpicked wine list. With relaxed booth and table seating to bring a new contemporary dining experience to the award winning The Halston.


A scenic snapshot of Cumbria is to feature on 5 million water bottles, thanks to the partnership between Cumbria Tourism and one of the UK’s leading Natural Mineral Water brands, Aqua Pura.

Aqua Pura are proud of their Cumbrian heritage and have been bottling water at source in the beautiful Eden Valley for nearly 30 years. Today Aqua Pura is one of the fastest growing British natural mineral water brands in UK, meaning they are sharing a little taste of Cumbria far and wide.
The new bottles, distributed to supermarkets across the United Kingdom, will now feature Cumbria Tourism’s #theplacetobe imagery, including the stunning local landscape.

The move is part of a long-term partnership between Cumbria Tourism and Aqua Pura, who are sponsoring the organisation’s 2018 Attractions Guide and also support another major Cumbrian event, The Great North Swim. Behind the scenes, Cumbria Tourism has been helping the brand to generate new content for their website in order to reflect the inspiring Cumbrian landscape where their water is sourced.

Sue Clarke, Sales and Marketing Manager for Cumbria Tourism, says, “Being able to share imagery of the Cumbrian landscape on literally millions of water bottles is a fantastic way of getting across our message that our region is ‘the place to be’. It really re-inforces key messages about the stunning views, fresh air and outdoor experiences that visitors can enjoy, and will really complement the work we do to promote our destination all-year-round.

She adds, “Aqua Pura is a long-term sponsor of Cumbrian Tourism and it is great to be working with them again on this exciting project to help champion the region and promote sustainable tourism.”

Aqua Pura quote, ‘We’re proud of Aqua Pura’s Cumbrian heritage and are looking forward to seeing the updated packaging on shelves. Featuring the natural beauty of Cumbria on the bottles and working closely with key events such as the The Great North Swim, we hope will strengthen the heritage further, whilst our new bottle designs, such as the new 750ml sports cap bottle, offer a wider selection for our customers.

The news comes as Cumbria Tourism plans for the launch of its new winter marketing campaign, which will officially get underway on 1 November 2017 and run through until mid-March 2018. It will include a wide range of marketing activity to promote the county as an all-year-round visitor destination during the traditionally quieter months of the year.

Aqua Pura’s water bottles are already in Tesco stores nationwide


Following the success of last Winter’s Campaign to help boost visitor numbers by promoting Cumbria as an all-year-round destination, Cumbria Tourism – the county’s official destination organisation – is planning to launch its major winter marketing campaign for 2017/18.

In just 5 months between November 2016 and March 2017 the previous campaign reached a combined audience of 25 million. This included a social media following of over 18 million and over 1 million newsletters sent to our customer database.
This Winter – and with two World Heritage sites – Cumbria now has an even more compelling message to help attract visitors to explore the county as an all-year-round visitor destination during the traditionally quieter months.
The campaign will officially launch on 1 November 2017, running through until mid-March 2018 supporting the trade through to the crucial Easter holidays. The aim is to showcase the wide range of events and attractions people can enjoy throughout the winter, by sharing content, images and itineraries to inspire staycations and drum home the message that visitors are welcome at any time of year.

Cumbria Tourism is working with Cactus Creative on the visuals, to incorporate the new World Heritage Site status and build upon the success of its award-winning #theplacetobe campaign which has been promoting the Lake District, Cumbria, nationally and internationally.

We are also pleased to confirm the return of ‘Love Cumbria’ the Winter Rewards Card offering a string of discounts at popular tourist attractions, cafes, restaurants and activities. The card will be promoted and available to buy through Cumbria Tourism’s golakes website, PR & media, digital marketing, print and press partnerships. In addition to this, businesses will be given the opportunity to benefit from the card scheme and sell the Love Cumbria card for themselves, or offer the card as a gift to their customers when making a booking.

Other key elements of Cumbria Tourism’s five-month winter marketing campaign will include:

• An engaging winter breaks section on the destination website golakes, which attracts 5 million web users annually. This will include a range of tailored itineraries which Cumbria Tourism members can download and use for their own marketing activity.
• New media partnerships with key national publications

• A series of targeted e-newsletters to Cumbria Tourism’s visitor database of 168,000+ people.

• Complimentary messaging to Cumbria Tourism’s 237,000+ followers on social media.

• Complimentary PR activity as part of our ongoing work with VisitEngland.

Jim Walker, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism says; “Our 2016/17 winter campaign was in essence a pilot but thanks to wide support from tourism businesses it reached a combined audience of 25 million and invited them to visit, or become aware of our brilliant all year-round visitor destination. Winter months can be more challenging for tourism businesses and this campaign, designed on behalf of our 2,500 members, offers practical marketing support to boost business through to Easter 2018. Importantly, winter business strengthens the Cumbrian economy and sustains more year round employment for our residents”

Further details about Cumbria Tourism’s winter marketing campaign will be announced in the coming weeks.

Cumbria Tourism Logo

Provisional figures from Cumbria Tourism’s research team show that camping and caravanning had a bumper start to 2017, with pitch occupancy up almost 20% between January and June compared to the same months last year.

Self-catering has also had a strong performance, with occupancy rates running 9% higher than the same period in 2016. The figures for April, May and June were particularly impressive with unit occupancy reaching 70% in June – a first for self-catering in the county.

The statistics collated by Cumbria Tourism also reveal that room occupancy for serviced accommodation is currently running 2% up on 2016. Last month’s occupancy rates reached 74% – matching last year, which were already the highest recorded in June for more than a decade.

The news comes hot on the heels of recent figures from the International Passenger Survey (IPS), carried out by the National Office of Statistics, which indicates a 26% increase in overseas trips to Cumbria in 2016. Although based on a small sample size, the trend bodes well for the county’s international appeal, with key markets including Australia, the USA, Germany and the Netherlands.

Research Manager at Cumbria Tourism, Helen Tate, says, “The data we have gathered from tourism businesses shows the underlying strength and resilience of our sector. Whilst the main growth has come from camping, caravanning, and self-catering, there have been increases across the board and these figures suggest there is a great deal to feel positive about.”

She adds, “At the same time, the International Passenger Survey indicates continuing growth in our international markets; a trend underlined by our most recent Cumbria Visitor Survey and evidence from individual tourism businesses. With two World Heritage sites, Cumbria now has an even more compelling message to help attract visitors from across the globe as we look forward to the next 12 months.”


Hopes for tourism boost as Cumbrian village now boasts TWO World Heritage Sites

Something special has just happened to the Lake District’s only coastal village… It’s now part of TWO World Heritage sites and tourism businesses are hoping this unique claim to fame will entice new visitors to explore this hidden gem on Cumbria’s west coast.

With both the Hadrian’s Wall and Lake District World Heritage sites, Ravenglass is now officially part of two globally recognised areas of cultural importance and local businesses say the Western Lake District more than deserves this double accolade.

The village was previously best known as the home of the award-winning Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, which winds through seven miles of spectacular scenery to the foot of England’s highest mountains. Other key attractions include the newly opened Ravenglass Railway Museum, the majestic Muncaster Castle and with its amazing Hawk & Owl Centre and breath-taking views of the Lake District mountains and Drigg Dunes Nature Reserve, which is home to various rare and endangered species of plants and animals including a thriving colony of natterjack toads.

But the history of Ravenglass actually spans back to the 2nd Century Romans. Evidence of this is Ravenglass Roman Bath House. Established AD130, its remains are among the tallest Roman structures surviving – the walls stand almost four metres high. It is thought the fort guarded the harbour, and there is evidence that soldiers stationed here served in Hadrian’s fleet. So it’s the perfect way to start exploring the Frontiers of the Roman Empire.

Cumbria Tourism Chairman, Eric Robson, says: “For one county, let alone one village to have two World Heritage Sites is fantastic. I hope the inscription of the Lake District opens more opportunities for people to experience Ravenglass and Cumbria’s west coast.

“The draw of Hadrian’s Wall already attracts thousands of visitors to the county, so this additional boost can only reinforce Cumbria’s strong reputation as a world class visitor destination, and we hope it encourages more people to extend their visits and discover this largely undiscovered gem.”

Ravenglass Railway Museum Project Manager, David Rounce, says, “We’re all very proud of the Ravenglass area and its many attractions and are delighted that we’ve been recognised in this unique way. Tourism forms a vital part of the local economy and we’re confident that being part of two world heritage sites will bring new and returning visitors to the area and provide a welcome boost to local businesses”.

For more information about visiting Ravenglass and Cumbria’s west coast, or to book your stay visit


Notes to Editors:


Please contact / 01539 825019 for:
• Further information
• Press trip opportunities
• Feature enquiries
• Hi-res images

The Frontiers of the Roman Empire: The cultural significance of Hadrian’s Wall was recognised in 1987 by UNESCO, and in 2005 became part of a much larger, much more ambitious, ‘transnational’ World Heritage Site as the German Limes were added, followed by the Antonine Wall in 2008, to create the Frontiers of the Roman Empire (FRE).
The English Lake District: The Lake District’s bid for World Heritage status was put together by the 25 partners that make up the Lake District National Park Partnership. Inscription is in the ‘Cultural Landscape’ category and was granted by UNESCO on Sunday 9th July 2017 in Krakow, Poland.

Cumbria Tourism Logo

Cumbria Tourism is welcoming today’s news that The Department for Transport is to invest in upgrades to the county’s railway infrastructure, as a major step forward for our £2.72 billion visitor economy.

Today, Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport announced further funding to railway infrastructure within Cumbria. In a letter from Lilian Greenwood MP, Chair of the Transport Select Committee, it was announced that from May 2018, passengers to the Lake District will benefit from double the number of direct services to Manchester Airport.

From 2019, Northern Rail intend to introduce brand new trains with more seats and better on-board facilities including air conditioning, toilets, free wi-fi and plug sockets. It will work to explore the deployment of alternative-fuel trains on the route by 2021, improving comfort and on-board facilities for passengers while protecting the sensitive environment of the newly designated Lake District World Heritage Site.

Jim Walker, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism says:
“We’re delighted to hear the Government are investing in the Lakes Line from Oxenholme to Windermere. In recent years the service from Windermere to Manchester Airport has decreased so it’s a very welcome move from Northern and the Government to improve the number of services and the quality of the rolling stock. Cumbria is a world class destination and offers world class facilities to its residents and visitors, so it’s only right that our transport infrastructure should be equally as good. Cumbria Tourism is firmly behind the development of new sustainable travel solutions, to help create greener ways for visitors to enjoy our epic and diverse landscape.”

This package of investment is a part of the Government’s Great North Rail Project, which aims to deliver more frequent trains and new direct services on the West Coast Main Line, with faster journeys and increased frequency into and through Manchester from across the North West. It is hoped the project will improve services for visitors while boosting access to jobs and new opportunities, growing the Northern Powerhouse by improving connections between the Lake District and the Manchester Airport international gateway.


Cumbria Tourism has confirmed Gill Haigh as its new Managing Director.

Currently Director of Marketing and Recruitment at the University of Cumbria, Gill has a 25 year career as a marketing and communications professional and she is a highly experienced, innovative and motivational leader.

Gill brings with her substantial experience across both the private and public sectors, including travel and tourism. Throughout her career she has worked closely with a wide range of Cumbrian partners in various roles supporting economic investment.

Previous jobs include a senior local government position, heading up destination marketing and tourism services for Lancaster City Council. She also spent four years as North West Public Relations Manager for the National Farmers’ Union, having begun her career as a journalist.

Gill says, I am extremely proud to have been appointed as Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, representing a county and sector I have such a strong affinity with.

“Cumbria is a world class visitor destination, and with a second World Heritage site just confirmed for the county, we are entering an exciting new phase that will bring with it enormous benefits for the visitor economy.

“I very much look forward to bringing my experience, enthusiasm and drive to work with the team, the board, members and partners to ensure that together we are in the strongest position to build on and benefit from the great achievements already made and the many opportunities ahead.”

Gill lives near Kirkby Lonsdale with her husband and two children. Together they share a passion for the county where they spend much of their leisure time relaxing and actively enjoying the wide variety of experiences it has to offer.

Gill is due to take up her new position at Cumbria Tourism in September.  In the meantime, Interim Managing Director Jim Walker will continue to head up the team at Cumbria Tourism’s offices in Staveley, near Kendal, following Ian Stephens’ departure earlier this month, after almost 25 years at the helm.



Notes to Editors:

For more information, please contact Cumbria Tourism Press Office on: 01539 822222 or email

Cumbria Tourism is the county’s official destination marketing organisation and is at the heart of the Cumbria Visitor Economy. It is also the largest membership organisation in Cumbria with more than 2,400 members. In 2016, more than 45 million people visited Cumbria, contributing more than £2.72 billion to the local economy and supporting around 63,000 jobs.

For more information about visiting the Lake District, Cumbria, visit:

To find out more about the work of Cumbria Tourism, visit


Lake District unveiled as a World Heritage Site

The Lake District has become a World Heritage Site joining iconic locations as the Taj Mahal, the Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon as an internationally acclaimed place.

The announcement in Krakow has led to jubilation among 25 organisations in the Lake District National Park Partnership, including Cumbria Tourism, which had put the bid together for UNESCO recognition in the cultural landscape category.

Chairman of the Partnership, Lord Clark of Windermere, described the prestigious status as momentous and bringing great benefits for locals, visitors, tourism, business and farming. It now joins just over 1,000 global World Heritage locations.

Three key themes underpinned the bid for this status, or inscription, recognising the Lake District National Park as a cultural landscape of international significance. World ranking examples of identity – the dramatic farmed landscape; inspiration – art, literature and love of the place; sparked the birth of conservation – people fought and invested to look after this special corner of England.

Chairman of Cumbria Tourism, Eric Robson, says: “World Heritage status means that the Lake District becomes one of just over a thousand exclusive sites with this special stamp of recognition. Being a member of this exclusive club is a fantastic opportunity to communicate with new visitor markets across the globe and to raise awareness of the Lake District’s cultural and environmental assets.

Of course, Cumbria already has a large part of the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site, so this additional boost can only re-inforce the county’s already strong reputation as a world class visitor destination.”