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, 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

Cumbria Tourism’s ‘Shop Local’ message is stepping up a gear with the launch of a Virtual Christmas Market, promoting the very best of the county’s local gifts, produce and vouchers for experiences and breaks.

Ahead of Black Friday on 27 November, Cumbria’s official Destination Management Organisation (DMO) is urging people to get behind Cumbrian businesses and communities rather than turning to impersonal global online retailers for their Christmas gifts.

Running from now until the end of the year on, Cumbria Tourism’s Virtual Christmas Market will enable a wide range of independent retailers, hotels, restaurants, attractions, cultural venues, creative talents and artisans to sell online and help ‘make it a Cumbria Christmas’ despite the continuing restrictions.

It also means that people across the county – and beyond – can still enjoy browsing and buying unique gifts, as well as having the flexibility to redeem vouchers for a range of experiences, dining out and break away on a future date.

The initiative is part of Cumbria Tourism’s wider #theperfectplacetobe Recovery Marketing Campaign to help tourism and hospitality businesses affected by more than £1.7billion in lost income following the impact of COVID-19 during 2020 so far.

With two national lockdowns and just a few short weeks of summer trading to generate vital revenue, the performance of the industry during the coming winter months will be all the more critical for business survival.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “One positive thing to come out of the lockdown restrictions is a renewed public appreciation for everything we have right here on our doorstep and the intrinsic value of ‘supporting local’.

 “We have so many first-class, locally-run businesses right across Cumbria and our new Virtual Christmas Market gives residents a chance to throw their support behind our local tourism industry in the absence of the many annual markets and craft fairs we’d usually expect to see at this time of year.

 There are so many talented makers and producers in our county. So whether it’s ordering superb locally-made products online or buying vouchers for experiences and breaks to enjoy in the future, each and every Cumbrian resident can make a difference by ordering gifts for friends, families, colleagues and customers that reflect the very best of Cumbria.”

 Lake District Country Hotels is one of the dozens of businesses taking part in Cumbria Tourism’s Virtual Christmas Market.

Executive Commercial Manager, Joe Cobb, says, “Buying and supporting local is more important than ever. Not only does it support people and businesses in the community at such a challenging time, but you often get a better product. In the Lakes, and in Lake District Country Hotels in particular, there is so much creativity.

 “Buying local also offers personality, from warm, welcoming, personable service. Cumbria Tourism’s Virtual Christmas Market should be at the top of all of our agendas.”

It is free for Cumbria Tourism members to advertise online gifts on the county’s Virtual Christmas Market on Non-member businesses can also register as sellers for £30.

All businesses need is the ability to transact online, plus an image and 20 words to describe each item they are selling (up to a maximum of four).

For more information or to get involved, contact


23rd November 2020

As we approach the end of a tumultuous year for the county’s visitor economy, two leading national figures from the world of tourism and hospitality industry will headline Cumbria Tourism’s next major members’ meeting.

The CEO of UK Hospitality, Kate Nicholls will join Director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), Bernard Donoghue in highlighting ways that businesses can look ahead to 2021 in a positive light.

As one of the sector’s leading trade associations in the country, UK Hospitality represents the interests of the UK’s hospitality businesses while ALVA’s members include many of the UK’s most popular attractions including museums, galleries, castles, zoos, historic houses and heritage sites.

Both Kate and Bernard will update Cumbria Tourism’s members on the work being done at national level to support the sector now and going forwards.

Free to attend for all of Cumbria Tourism’s 2,500 member businesses, the virtual event on 19 November aims to support businesses as we make our way through the rollercoaster year but also to inspire with new ways to innovate and stay competitive.

Cumbria Tourism’s Research Manager Helen Tate will also be sharing the latest analysis of Covid-19’s effects on visitor habits and attitudes to help businesses better-understand the market, while the organisation’s marketing and communications team will highlight how businesses can use this information to make the most of new and emerging trends and opportunities in a rapidly evolving tourism landscape.

Evidence from the shop floor will also be provided by six Cumbrian operators representing different sectors. Each will share their positive learning experiences of 2020 to help support businesses looking ahead to 2021. They include Travel Chapter for the self-catering sector, Lake District Estates for camping and caravanning, the Armathwaite Hall Hotel & Spa for accommodation, Forestry England for attractions and outdoors, Wordsworth Grasmere for culture and heritage, and Grasmere Gingerbread for food and drink.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “This year has been the toughest in living memory for the sector. Thanks to support from Cumbria Tourism members, we have been able to feed evidence and information through to our national partners and directly to government, making sure our voice is heard at the highest levels  and so we are particularly delighted to welcome Kate and Bernard as our key speakers this month, both of whom have worked tirelessly on behalf of the industry, using their seats at the top table with the government, to help us repeatedly make our case.

“We’re also delighted to be revealing our fascinating latest visitor insight and helping businesses explore how the county and they can use this to positive effect as part of the industry recovery. I am personally really looking forward to hearing from our six businesses. Our members are the ones at the coal face and they know better than any of us just how tough this year has been but Cumbria is nothing if not resilient so it’s going to be brilliant to hear some of their insight into how they have navigated their way through and what they see as some of the opportunities for next year and beyond.”

Q&A sessions with every speaker will also be held during the meeting.

Cumbria Tourism members can book up to two free places here or by calling 01539 822222.


Cumbria’s reputation as one of the finest foodie destinations in the UK has been given another welcome boost this week, thanks to the publication of an article on the BBC Good Food website following a visit paid by a member of its team last year.

With a circulation of almost 160,000 and readership of 13 million people, the title and its accompanying website is the UK’s best-selling food and drink magazine and one of the overall top five monthly consumer titles across all genres.

As Cumbria’s food and drink offering is one of Cumbria Tourism’s key annual themes and cited by the organisation as a prime motivator for visits, the organisation arranged meals at three of Cumbria’s newest Michelin Starrecipients, as well as visits to a selection of other “must visit” food & drink related businesses.

This month marks exactly a year since the prestigious Michelin Guide boosted Cumbria’s star total from five stars to eight, giving the county the highest number of stars anywhere north of London.

 First stop on the BBC’s tour was ‘Allium’ at Askham Hall, where writer Natalie Hardwick was given a first-hand look at how Head Chef Richard Swale carefully selects the ingredients straight from the gardens for his award-winning dishes.

 Next was The Cottage in the Wood at Braithwaite (pictured), followed by Old Stamp House and its sister restaurant Kysty in Ambleside, where Natalie enjoyed an outdoor foraging experience before lunch was served – using the very ingredients sourced with the restaurant’s team from outside just an hour earlier.

Grasmere Gingerbread hosted a behind the scenes tour before Natalie enjoyed afternoon tea at The Lingholm Estate and sampled the Lakes Distillery’s new ‘Whiskey and Chocolate’ tours. The BBC Good Food team also paid a visit to Sedbergh, dropping-in at the Black Bull and The Three Hairs.

Natalie says, “My visit to Cumbria was such a memorable, action-packed trip, and Cumbria Tourism certainly set me up with an itinerary to remember. The variety of what’s on-offer was definitely worth making the trip for, and I’d strongly recommend our readers sample all the places I visited for themselves at the earliest opportunity.”

While publication of the article was initially postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is now available, here.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “It goes without saying that Cumbria’s hospitality sector, along with the rest of the UK, has endured a very difficult 2020. But this acknowledgement of The Lake District’s foodie-offering has come at just the right time, especially following this month’s Lonely Planet ‘Top 500 Essential Travel List’, which positioned The Lake District as the UK’s highest placing.

 It’s brilliant that we can boast these high profile Michelin star restaurants, but as we all know high quality Cumbrian food and warm hospitality to complement can we found in abundance right cross our county’s wonderful eateries – pubs, cafes, hotels – in our towns, along our coast and nestled in our countryside. If you haven’t already it’s worth picking up a MyCumbria Card which offers lots of inspiration but also some fantastic discounts for local residents, at

 “And if you are wondering what to buy someone this Christmas, a foodie gift voucher is a great way to support local producers and businesses and also ensure a memorable culinary experience. With so many well-known publications featuring the county prominently in their destination coverage, we hope their readers – including readers of BBC Good Food magazine will pay us a visit during the cosy autumn and winter months to enjoy a hearty meal, created by some of the country’s finest chefs, all of whom we are very proud.”

Yesterday (Sunday 27 September) marked World Tourism Day, organised annually by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation to highlight the importance of tourism for all parts of our society.

Cumbria Tourism Chairman Jim Walker explains why he believes this message is more important than ever.

He says, “The Lake District, Cumbria is one of Britain’s few truly world-class destinations. There is no doubt that our environment, our culture and our way of life are fundamental to the success of tourism AND the wellbeing of the people who live here. In turn, tourism helps our communities hold onto a uniquely Cumbrian culture and heritage, supporting local communities and ways of life.

 “However, Cumbria is far more dependent on tourism than most other parts of the UK. Before COVID hit, the industry contributed £3.13billion annually to the local economy. It is also a leading source of employment, supporting 65,500 jobs and helping to sustain diverse, vibrant local communities.

“Sadly, the pandemic has brought the world to a standstill and our sector is among the hardest hit. More than £1.5billion has already been wiped off the county’s tourism income this year and trading over the last two and a half months alone will not recoup those financial losses. 

With reduced capacity and ever-evolving government restrictions, businesses are now critically concerned about the traditionally quieter autumn and winter period.  Cumbria Tourism’s latest research shows that business confidence is plummeting and the industry will continue to be impacted for many months to come, which is why we are renewing our calls to extend the support the Government has already provided with a winter package to protect jobs, support businesses and support customers.

 “As they have reopened, many tourism operators have had to rethink their business models; the county too now needs to rethink how it supports the visitor economy in a changed world.

This innovative mindset will be vital over the coming months to face the complexities of the ever-changing restrictions we face.

 “As ever, Cumbria’s tourism and hospitality businesses have shown resilience, guts and sheer hard work and determination in the face of adversity. On this World Tourism Day, there is certainly an opportunity to rethink how things are done in the tourism sector.

“The spirit of World Tourism Day is cooperation and collaboration. This resonates strongly with our tourism industry here in Cumbria and is precisely why the role of Cumbria Tourism is so important – helping everyone to work together towards a common goal and supporting both individual businesses and the sector as a whole.

“For example, Cumbria Tourism’s #theperfectplacetobe Recovery Marketing Campaign is supporting the safe return of the visitor market by inspiring visits and supporting businesses during the crucial autumn and winter period.

 “We are also constantly gathering and reviewing market intelligence. A newly-launched visitor survey will help the organisation to understand more about this year’s visitor, to support effective destination management and marketing. Meanwhile, the rich data from our latest business tracker research enables us to fight for our industry at the highest levels in this complex and ever-evolving situation.

 “None of this would be possible without our tourism member businesses, who are the lifeblood of the organisation. We don’t know exactly what is to come in the coming weeks and this will be a World Tourism Day like no other, but it is a timely reminder that together we are stronger.”

What do David Hasselhoff, TV presenter Helen Skelton and actress Anna Friel all have in common?

They’re among just three of the high-profile names to contribute to a new Cumbria Tourism initiative which forms part of its Autumn and Winter Marketing Campaign to inspire visits to the Lake District, Cumbria.

Other familiar faces getting behind the new celebrity endorsement campaign range from TV personality and regular visitor Julia Bradbury, comedian Jon Richardson, and Olympic and Great North Swim competitor Cassie Patten, to homegrown Cumbrian heroes including mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington, Lord Melvyn Bragg and MasterChef 2019 winner Irini Tzortzoglou.

The initiative is part of Cumbria Tourism’s wider #theperfectplacetobe Recovery Marketing Campaign to help tourism and hospitality businesses affected by more than £1.5billion lost income following the impact of COVID-19. Following months of closure and just a few short weeks of summer trading, thousands of tourism jobs in the county are at risk, so the performance of the industry during the autumn and winter months will be all the more critical this year.

To help launch the campaign’s autumn activity and build on the momentum for staycations, Cumbria Tourism has called on an array of well-known faces across different walks of life – many of whom have strong Cumbrian connections – and invited them to show their love for this world-class destination by sharing their own personal messages.

The aim is simple: To share their favourite parts of the Lake District, Cumbria, and to inspire people to rediscover this diverse and spacious county during the traditionally quieter months for a well-served staycation. We are pleased to say our celebs have jumped at the chance to get behind Cumbria Tourism and the industry.

Locations featured alongside the messages from each celebrity include St Bees, Cartmel, the Solway Plain, Scafell Pike, Ullswater, Wastwater, Blencathra, Muncaster, Derwentwater, Kendal, Windermere, Catbells, Dodd Fell, Helvellyn and many more.

The celebrity messages will be shared with Cumbria Tourism’s social media audience of more than a quarter of a million people in the coming weeks, and each celebrity will also be asked to share them on their own channels to highlight the region as a great place to visit all-year round.

The full range of Cumbria Tourism’s celebrity endorsements will also be available on the region’s official tourism website, here, and feature in the 2021 Lake District, Cumbria, Holiday Guide. The Cumbria Tourism team will also be tagging participating celebrities into its posts and asking them to reshare with their social media audiences.

“We all know this is a special place but with so many well-known faces sharing that passion it’s great to hear their insights and genuine love or connection with the county,” says Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh.

“The messages have been a joy to read and we can’t wait to share them with our potential visitors, particularly those who missed their holidays here during lockdown. Our awe-inspiring landscape has so much to offer; not only some superb outdoor adventures, but also fantastic food, fascinating culture and heritage, and plenty of unique attractions and experiences.”

Another celebrity to add his name to the campaign is broadcaster Stuart Maconie, who says, “Last week for the first time in many months, I did two fell walks in Cumbria and I’ve been missing it so much. In fact, I hadn’t realised just how much I’d been missing it until I was out there again. Everything is there – the lakes are there, the shops, the pubs and the restaurants are there. Obviously, you may have to book ahead now things are a little different to normal, but Cumbria is open for businesses and is welcoming you back so it would be great to see you there.”

As the summer holidays draw to a close, Cumbria Tourism is calling on residents to continue their strong support for local attractions and the thousands of local people employed by the tourism sector by getting involved in this week’s #CumbriaAttractionsWeek.

Running until Sunday (September 6), the county’s official Destination Management Organisation is asking people to help raise the profile of the attractions they visit by posting photos of their day-out on social media, using the hashtag #CumbriaAttractionsWeek.

Designed to inspire residents to visit somewhere new and discover even more of what’s right on the doorstep, the initiative will be used to reaffirm how local people are just as integral to the strength of the county’s economy as visitors from further afield.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “We all enjoy visiting pubs, restaurants and cafes and it is common for us all to look around for ideas for a day-out close to where we live. By choosing to visit a local attraction, every resident will be playing a vital role in helping to protect 65,000 jobs, the economy and the way of life we all benefit from.

“The range of opportunities we have here is simply incredible. We have got wildlife attractions like Predator Experience and the Lake District Wildlife Park, to the birds of prey at Muncaster Castle and the Lake District Coast Aquarium. There are stunning gardens like those at Askham Hall, a chance to explore the arts at Tullie House or delve into Cumbria’s heritage at the Ruskin Museum, the Lakeland Motor Museum, Beacon Museum and The Senhouse Museum.

“Experiences range from mediation at Conishead Priory’s Manjushri temple, creating confectionary at The Chocolate Factory, blowing glass at Cumbria Crystal, or trying dry-stone walling. We have got train and boat rides and plenty of physical activities too, from golf at Carus Green, water sports at Low Wood, fell pony camping adventures, and swinging among the branches at Treetop Trek. The list really goes on and on.

“With so much on offer, Cumbria remains the perfect place to recharge, reconnect, reflect and rediscover with friends, family and support bubbles after such a strange and difficult first half of 2020. We thank local people for their support but do remind them to plan visits in advance and book ahead.”

Among the attractions to have felt the benefits of local support in recent weeks is Whinlatter Forest. Mark Holroyd, Head of Recreation and Communications for Forestry England, says, “In recent weeks we’ve seen a really encouraging rise in the number of cyclists and record numbers of people trying-out Go Ape, with 120 to 180 participants a day. Overall, visitor numbers are up 40% on this time last year and our average stay length is slightly up as well.”

Asia Connor, Sales Manager at tour operator Mountain Goat, says, “As a small local company we appreciate the support from both visitors and locals alike. We rely on locals throughout the shoulder months to book private hires and local services and appreciate their business. I believe this year we have shown how reliant we have become on visitors and international markets but here at Mountain Goat it has made us review our local market and make sure we are looking after them as well.”

Meanwhile, massive savings can be made on many local attractions by holders of Cumbria Tourism’s ‘MyCumbria’ card. Full details of all offers are online here.

After months of entertaining and educating the kids at home, bosses at the Senhouse Roman Museum are hoping the newly-reopened attraction can help reignite children’s interest in Cumbrian history and jumpstart their preparations for a return to school next month.

After re-opening to the public last week, bosses at the attraction near Maryport say they are already getting widespread interest from residents across the county who want to rediscover the little-known stories of life for ordinary people in Cumbria during the Roman occupation almost 2000 years ago.

Museum Manager, Jane Laskey, says, “I think people have been itching to get out and experience museums and cultural attractions again. We genuinely have one of the most important Roman collections in Britain here in Cumbria and right now, people are very open to the idea of exploring those hidden gems on their doorsteps.

 “With children returning to school in a few weeks, the education slant is an added bonus for parents who want to get youngsters thinking in a fun and informative way. We’ve certainly had plenty of interest not just from families in West Cumbria, but also from those in the south and east of the county who want to come and explore our spacious coastal site.

 “There have also been enquiries from couples and older visitors who have cancelled foreign holidays this year and are looking for more unusual day trips.

 “There’s an added appeal because we are in a dramatic location overlooking cliffs alongside the Cumbrian Coastal Way, giving people an easy, scenic walking route along the shoreline to Maryport Marina and other attractions like the Lake District Coast Aquarium and the town’s Maritime Museum. In the other direction, there is Silloth and the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).”

The Museum itself has put a number of measures in place to help manage the flow of people and by ensuring people book ahead and space out their visits, there is a real possibility of some ticket-holders having near-exclusive use of the Museum during their visit.

 Jane adds, “Lockdown has given so many of us a greater appreciation for the world around us and made us think about how the way we live our lives. During the Roman Occupation, different cultures and traditions melded together and there some interesting parallels with our society today, which really do make you think.”

I believe plenty of people who don’t see themselves as ‘average’ museum visitors will be surprised by some of the unique objects and fascinating stories they can discover here at Senhouse Roman Museum.  There’s an outdated perception that museums are dry and dusty places with limited appeal, but that’s not true: museums are for everyone!

The majority of Senhouse Roman Museum is now open daily from 11am to 5pm. A one-way system is in place, with visitors asked to wear facemasks and respect the 2-metre social distancing rule. Entry to the Museum should be pre-booked online and visitors will be allocated a timed slot to explore.

 The attraction has also achieved its official ‘We’re Good to Go’ accreditation to show it is following all the official Government safety measures and public health guidance.

Cumbria Tourism is using the Government’s ‘Love Culture Week’ (from 17 August 2020) to highlight the amazing range of museums, galleries, heritage sites, cinemas and cultural organisations we have in the Lake District, Cumbria.  It’s all part of the national #EnjoySummerSafely  campaign.

It’s also ideal content for #theperfectplacetobe campaign and a fantastic way for the county to get behind our world-class cultural offering and show visitors it is #theperfectplacetorediscover all we have to offer, while reassuring them about the safety measures in place.

We are encouraging people to get involved with our social media and blog activity throughout the week. On Thursday 20 August, we are also asking visitors to join us in sharing #ThrowbackThursday photos from their previous holidays and day trips to the Lake District, Cumbria of the past and say why they can’t wait to visit again.

We hope you will join us in shouting about our massively talented and inventive cultural sector next week and use it as a marketing opportunity to promote all things culture and heritage to your customers.

Learn more