Cumbrian residents are being encouraged to take a less consumerist approach this Black Friday, with the countywide MyCumbria discount card now donating a proportion of each sale to the Cumbria Community Foundation.


The event, an American import of the last shopping day after the Thanksgiving holiday, has become more and more commercialised in recent years, however recent events have highlighted to many the importance of creating memories with friends and family rather than buying the latest items. Alongside the donation to the Foundation, a MyCumbria card is far from a single-use item, rather opening up experiences right across the county for a full year.


Cumbria Tourism Managing Director Gill Haigh says “One thing we’ve all discovered over the course of the pandemic is the importance of spending time with friends and family, especially those we’ve been unable to see due to recent travel restrictions. Memories last so much longer and with a MyCumbria card you’re not just giving a loved one a one off present, you’re gifting them 12 months of adventure.


“I’m also delighted a percentage of every card sold will go straight to our Strategic Partners the Cumbria Community Foundation. This charity does so much for the people of Cumbria, supporting youth groups, carers, the arts, homelessness and more right across the county. After everything Cumbria’s been through recently we all know someone in need of a little extra support and the Foundation is doing a fantastic job at a very difficult time.”


Cumbria Community Foundation’s Chief Executive Andy Beeforth says: “Being a Strategic Partner with Cumbria Tourism is the right thing for the Community Foundation to do. Tourism is a vital part of the Cumbrian economy supporting jobs and the leisure, arts and cultural sectors of the county.  We’re stronger together and I look forward to working in partnership with Cumbria Tourism in support of the people of Cumbria. One important example is the opportunity to make use of the proceeds from the MyCumbria Card.

The funds raised by the MyCumbria Card will help the Foundation help charities throughout the county. The MyCumbria card is an important way in which we can all help support local communities here in our county.”


Whatever interests your loved ones, a MyCumbria card can help inspire them to explore their doorstep in 2022 and make memories with friends and family. With discounts on a huge range of experiences, from indulgent afternoon teas at top-quality establishments (including Rothay Manor Hotel, Ambleside (25% off) to family days out at favourites such as Lowther Castle (two for one admission), Holker Hall (two for one admission) and the South Lakes Safari Zoo (50% off both day admission and annual passes), they’ll be able to enjoy low-cost days out across Cumbria. Also, with many looking to get outdoors again there are many ways to save, including 10% off all activities with Graythwaite Adventure and 10% off at The Forge, Staveley-based outdoor brand Inov-8’s brand new store.


MyCumbria cards are available to anyone who lives or works in the county at the special price of just £15 on ‘Charity Friday’ (26th November 2021). To use this offer please use the discount code charityfriday when purchasing (does not apply to renewals). Gift options are also available.


View the full list of current offers and buy your card at

23rd November 2021

Cumbria Tourism has relaunched its virtual Cumbrian Christmas Market following great success last year, to encourage shoppers to select from some of the county’s best local gifts, produce, and experiences this festive season.

Running from now until the end of the year on, shoppers will find a wide range of independent retailers, hotels, restaurants, attractions, cultural venues, creative talents and artisans all selling unique gifts and experiences online.

The virtual Christmas Market was initially launched in 2020 as part of Cumbria Tourism’s #theperfectplacetobe recovery marketing efforts to help support local businesses affected by the nationwide lockdowns that put a halt to high-street shopping.

Cumbria Tourism is again urging shoppers to support local this Christmas, by purchasing gifts and treats directly from Cumbrian businesses.

While the latest phase of the #theperfectplacetobe recovery campaign aims to promote a return to the high streets, Cumbria Tourism has brought back the virtual market to ensure those who are still cautious of public spaces, don’t live locally, or simply prefer the ease of online shopping can continue to access authentic local gifts online.

Cumbria Tourism’s Marketing Manager, Sue Clarke, says, “Supporting local will always be a fundamental value that we promote – and the pandemic has only heightened the need for us to all get behind our amazing local makers, producers and retailers.

“The virtual Cumbrian Christmas market has such a wonderful array of creative gifts – it’s also an excellent way to cater for those who are located further afield and are missing their slice of Cumbria.

“Cumbrian businesses need your support, and we urge shoppers to have a Cumbrian Christmas in any way that they can – whether that be purchasing locally-made gifts online or at independent retailers on the high-streets.”

The Veg Patch is one of the dozens of homegrown businesses taking part in Cumbria Tourism’s Virtual Christmas Market.

Head of Retail, Daniel Morley, says, “ Buying local has so many benefits – not only are you helping to support livelihoods and local communities through these challenging times, but you often get more unique and personalised gifts.

“Cumbria Tourism’s virtual Christmas market has a huge range of high-quality gift ideas that you can get delivered straight to your door – If you are still searching for the perfect gifts for your loved ones then we encourage you to take a look at the brilliant artisan products on offer.”

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 two).

For more information or to get involved, contact

One of the Lake District’s top visitor attractions has given students from Lancaster & Morecambe a taster of working in Cumbria’s world-class tourism sector, including a talk hosted by industry experts.

A group of eight Level 3 Travel & Tourism students from Lancaster & Morecambe College gathered at Treetop Trek at Brockhole to hear first-hand insights about future career opportunities in tourism and hospitality, from Cumbria Tourism’s Managing Director, Gill Haigh and Treetop Trek Founder, Mike Turner.

With Cumbria’s visitor economy facing an ongoing recruitment challenge, the students – who are all aiming for careers in the industry – also got a sneak peek behind the scenes at the award-winning high ropes attraction on the shores of Windermere.

Cumbria Tourism has been engaging with colleges and universities throughout Cumbria and Lancashire as part of its continuing work to support local businesses through the current staffing challenges and inspire young people about the wide range of opportunities available to school and college leavers.

Cumbria Tourism MD Gill Haigh believes developing and retaining future talent is important for the industry and reminded students that there are plenty of opportunities close to home.

She says, “It’s great to see these students already thinking about joining the sector, as they can bring fresh thinking and innovation. Cumbria’s visitor economy is so diverse, with some many opportunities to make your mark and forge a really fulfilling career path, so this session was a fantastic way to showcase the huge variety of roles available to the next generation.”

Students also got a unique glimpse of what it’s like to work at Treetop Trek, where staff spend their days in a vibrant outdoor location and gain hands-on skills with plenty of opportunities for training and development.

Mike Turner shared his first-hand experience of developing Treetop Trek in the Lake District alongside its sister attraction in Manchester, and the valuable learnings he’s picked up along the way.

He comments, “There can be some negative perceptions of working in tourism, but in reality, there are so many opportunities for long and successful careers in this industry. We have a big focus on developing our staff, and we want to show these students the wide variety of roles available – not just on-the-ground but behind the scenes in administrative and commercial positions.”

Lancaster & Morecambe College offers a variety of Travel & Tourism courses, where students can gain a solid foundation to progress directly into the industry or onto Higher Education.

Jon Lloyd – Senior Lecturer at Lancaster & Morecambe College says, “We are proud to provide young people and adults with valuable skills to help them to progress – and working with local providers and industry leaders like Treetop Trek allows our students to gain a practical understanding of what their future roles could look like.”


Tourism and hospitality businesses across Cumbria are invited to attend an engaging and interactive Tourism Conference on the 26th November. The half-day event starts at 8:30am and is set to finish at around lunch-time.

 Held at Energus Workington and focussing on the theme Tourism: Rebuilding for the Future, the event, organised by Allerdale Borough Council, will address key issues affecting the Cumbrian visitor economy, with attendees learning from expert speakers through interactive sessions alongside a free breakfast and networking opportunities.

Attendees will enjoy engaging presentations from a wide range of expert speakers and host Susanna Boccaccio of Bright Trees Media, leaving with a clearer understanding of how to make the most of the coming months alongside the skills to do so.

Staffing continues to be a vitally important issue for employers and the event will address how businesses can attract new recruits, with Cath Dutton from the Cumbria Careers Hub sharing how businesses can change perceptions around industry careers and highlight the long-term opportunities the sector offers.

The growing cycle tourism market, highlighted by Cumbria’s inclusion in the 2021 Tour of Britain and the recent Solway Coast Cycling Festival, will also be addressed. Tourism expert Nick Lancaster of Lancaster & Lancaster will share how businesses can increase longer, higher spending visitor stays across the Solway Coast and beyond by encouraging exploration on two wheels (particularly by e-bike), and how this can boost local businesses across the region.

The event will also include interactive sessions designed to provide key takeaway skills that can be applied to the wide range of tourism businesses across the region:

  • Sustainability the Smart Way – In the wake of COP26 sustainability continues to rise up the agenda, not only for the planet but also affecting visitor motivation and decision-making. Crake Consultancy’s Gemma Procter will guide attendees through the concept of sustainability and the opportunities available to benefit the planet but also their business.
  • Smart Social Media – Cumbria Tourism representatives will share hints and practical tips on how businesses can make the most of social media’s huge potential by creating quality, re-usable content focussing on key platforms and defined audiences.
  • Working Smarter – Dan Visser, Director Sales & Marketing at the Langdale Hotel and Spa, will share his extensive experience and help attendees identify simple changes they can meet to increase efficiency and productivity as they adapt to changing visitor and recruitment needs.

Allerdale Borough Council’s Leisure and Tourism Portfolio Holder, Councillor Tony Markley says “The last 18 months have been incredibly difficult for businesses and many have not yet fully recovered. However, important lessons continue to be learnt over the course of the pandemic and this conference is an excellent opportunity for businesses across Allerdale and further afield to learn and plan how to make the most of the coming months. We’ve a fantastic line-up of expert speakers eager to share their experience – I’d recommend anyone working in the tourism and hospitality industry to register.”

The conference, arranged by Allerdale Borough Council in association with Cumbria Tourism, is free to attend for all tourism and hospitality businesses across Cumbria. Business owners and representatives can learn more and register for free at

Cumbria Tourism will be flying the flag for the county at one of Northern England’s most respected awards ceremonies, after being shortlisted in a staggering five categories for the Prolific North Marketing Awards.

The awards recognise stand-out marketing campaigns from across the North of England and the newly-revealed shortlists have been whittled down by a panel of industry leaders, with the final winners to be announced at a ceremony in Leeds later this month.

As Cumbria’s official destination management organisation, Cumbria Tourism has been at the forefront of two major campaigns in recent months: to help tackle the current recruitment crisis facing tourism and hospitality, and to encourage visitors to rediscover lesser-known corners of the county.

Cumbria Tourism’s #ThePerfectPlaceToWork Recruitment Campaign is a finalist in three categories: Best Not for Profit Campaign, Best Small Budget Campaign and Best Response to Change.

#ThePerfectPlaceToWork was developed as a direct response to tourism businesses’ concerns about the acute staffing crisis threatening the post-pandemic recovery of Cumbria’s visitor economy. Challenging perceptions about what it means to work in tourism and hospitality – and helping inspire both locals and people from further afield to take up roles within the industry – are at the heart of this ongoing campaign.

Meanwhile, the organisation’s #ThePerfectPlaceToBe campaign – to encourage more people to rediscover lesser-known corners of Cumbria – has also beaten off stiff competition to be nominated for Best Tourism & Leisure Campaign and Best Integrated Campaign.

#ThePerfectPlaceToBe focused on ‘attract and disperse’ activity to expand awareness of destinations including the Cumbrian coastline, Carlisle and Hadrian’s Wall country, and the east of the county, where Cumbria meets the North Pennines and the Yorkshire Dales. Its key objective was to encourage potential visitors to explore further, spreading them more evenly across the country this summer and helping increase economic benefits for traditionally less-visited parts of Cumbria.

Cumbria Tourism’s Head of Partnerships and Projects, Rachel Tyson, says, “We’re absolutely over the moon to be shortlisted for five categories in these well-respected awards, which celebrate the very best marketing innovation and creativity right across the North.

Both #ThePerfectPlaceToBe and #ThePerfectPlaceToWork have been developed with the tourism industry in mind, helping them to rebuild as the post-pandemic recovery continues.

 “We’re thrilled to have got to this stage and hope we can bring home the awards for Cumbria and all the hardworking tourism and hospitality businesses who have faced such a challenging time over the past 2 years. Fingers crossed for the final!”

The winners of the Prolific North Marketing Awards will be announced on Thursday 25 November at a ceremony in Leeds.  See the full shortlist here.



Reacting to the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget statement, Cumbria’s official Destination Management Organisation says there is welcome news for the county’s tourism and hospitality industry – but Cumbria Tourism also believes more detail is needed to reveal the full picture.

Among the measures announced today is a 50% business rates discount for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, up to a maximum of £110,000.  Tax relief on museums and galleries will be extended until March 2024, and there will be significant changes to alcohol duty including a new ‘draught relief’ cutting duty on beer and cider sold in pubs.

However, measures to create a more competitive visa system for overseas workers has been limited to highly-skilled, hi-tech companies. Calls to permanently lower the 12.5% VAT rate for tourism businesses – led by Cumbria Tourism – have also been overlooked.

Chairman of Cumbria Tourism, Jim Walker, says, “Today’s budget is a bit of a mixed bag from the perspective of tourism businesses, but overall, there is some welcome news which will help safeguard jobs and businesses in Cumbria in the short to medium term. 

“Reforms to business rates – including a new 12-month relief for companies to invest in their premises – are very positive, as is the new one year 50% discount on business rates for hospitality and retail. However, we do need to be mindful that some of our smallest operators unfortunately won’t benefit as they don’t pay business rates. 

 “It’s also fantastic to see investment in heritage and culture; these organisations have been impacted massively by the pandemic, but many still aren’t operating at full capacity and do need that extra support. The new tax relief on museums and galleries is a really welcome move and we’re looking forward to seeing more detail on this.

 “The changes to alcohol duty should be helpful to Cumbrian pubs, breweries and producers. We’re also pleased about further investment in rail travel, although again, we need to see the detail to ensure that some of this will filter through to bolster services in our county.

 He adds, “Overall, it is good to see tangible signs of an economic recovery reflected in the Chancellor’s budget speech. The flipside of this is higher inflation which could potentially impact on visitors’ discretionary spend for leisure activities. This is definitely something for us to watch closely.

 “Looking ahead, we would have liked more of a focus on tackling longer-term issues around recruitment and retention, for which we have been lobbying strongly. The Government has introduced much greater flexibility around visas in other industries, so we continue to call for this to be extended to tourism and hospitality workers from overseas.

 “It’s also disappointing that our calls to maintain the 12.5% VAT rate for tourism businesses have been unsuccessful. This would have helped create more longer-term stability for our industry and we will be asking the Government to look again at this issue.”


Guardian and Masterchef food critic Grace Dent’s autobiography Hungry has been named the 2021 Lakeland Book of the Year.

 Presented this week at the Roundthorn Country House Hotel, the book, detailing the food personality’s life and experiences, impressed the judges with it’s honest and entertaining account of growing up in Carlisle.

Posting on Twitter, Carlisle-born Grace, who also received the The Zefirellis Prize for People & Business, said that she was “thrilled” to receive the prize for Hungry, which includes details of her early years growing up in Carlisle as part of a moving personal memoir.

Chosen from over 70 entries covering almost every conceivable category from wild swimming to Cumbria’s incredibly diverse history, Hungry was celebrated alongside five other category winners at a charity lunch in support of the Stroke Association, with the attendees raising over £600 for the cause on the day, with additional donations still coming in.

The judges, author and columnist Hunter Davies OBE, renowned broadcaster and Cumbria Tourism President Eric Robson OBE and BBC newscaster, presenter and author Fiona Armstrong, entertained over 70 guests with their thoughts and insights on the 18-strong shortlist before announcing the six winners of 2021.

The awards, supported by James Cropper of Burneside, have continued uninterrupted for 37 years (with the 2020 event taking place virtually) and celebrate the breath-taking variety of top-quality writing inspired by Cumbria and the Lake District. Open to any book set in or featuring the county and published the previous year, previous winners have included Rory Stewart, James Rebanks and Alfred Wainwright.


The 2021 winners are:

The Zefirellis Prize for People & Business

Hungry, Grace Dent


The Bill Rollinson Prize for Landscapes and Traditions

Swimming Wild in the Lake District, Suzanna Cruickshank


The Striding Edge Prize for Guides and Places

English Pastoral: An Inheritance, James Rebanks


The Latitude Press Prize for Illustration and Presentation

Terry Abraham: Life On The Mountains, Terry Abraham


The Bookends Prize for Literature & Poetry

Radical Wordsworth, Jonathan Bate


The Gilpin Hotel and Lake Prize for Fiction

Dead Ringer, Nicola Martin

Ahead of the October half-term holidays, motorhome owners visiting Cumbria are being urged to plan ahead, to pre-book their visits and explore lesser-known areas of the county – including the recently launched Cumbrian Coastal Route.

Following an upturn in motorhome and campervan ownership over the last 12 months, people are also being encouraged to play their part in protecting the county’s world-famous landscape as they enjoy the glorious autumn colours.

Cumbria Tourism has created ‘Van Life’ as a helpful online hub of information for the motorhome community, featuring a range of itineraries/days out and practical hints; from a downloadable accommodation guide to official waste disposal facilities, a Motor Caravanners’ Code and a handy map to guide them away from narrow rural routes:

The most recent addition to ‘Van Life’ is a newly designated 200-mile route exploring the county’s coastal gems – known as the Cumbrian Coastal Route (CCR 200) – which is split into a series of smaller sections, all do-able in a day.

From Morecambe Bay in the south to the Solway Firth in the north, the CCR 200 includes a good mix of both formal and informal sites for motorhome and campervan owners, taking in larger holiday parks with extensive facilities as well as smaller, more basic sites. A number of locations also offer overnight stays in car parks.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, “We expect the Lake District, Cumbria to be a popular destination for the motorhome community again this half term, with many of our official campsites still open and taking bookings.

 “It’s always fantastic to see visitors supporting our local communities, so we want to give them all the advice and practical know-how they need to plan ahead now and help protect this special place while they’re here.

 “With some spectacular autumn colours at this time of year, it’s also a great time to shine the spotlight on some great new places and experiences to discover, including the captivating landscapes of Cumbria’s west coast.

 “Once people are in the county, they can leave their motorhome in its designated spot for the day while they enjoy a fantastic day out by foot, bike, boat or train. With hidden heritage and history, tales of maritime adventures and plenty of hidden viewpoints to enjoy the nature and tranquillity, there is so much to explore.”

 See all five stages of the CCR 200 HERE.



Ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget (on Wednesday 27 October), Cumbria Tourism is calling on the Government to permanently lower the 12.5% VAT rate for tourism businesses – to help protect jobs and safeguard the long-term future of the county’s visitor economy.

The VAT rate was reduced to support tourism and hospitality operators during the pandemic, but is currently set to return to its previous level of 20% in April 2022.

Cumbria Tourism is now leading calls to keep VAT at the lower rate, following powerful new evidence which suggests that it could be fundamental to safeguarding jobs in the visitor economy and enabling operators to invest in their workforce.

As the county’s official Destination Management Organisation, Cumbria Tourism helped collate feedback directly from local businesses to make the county’s voice heard in a new national survey* monitoring the impact of the reduction in VAT across the tourism industry.

The overall results overwhelmingly show that the VAT reduction has been a lifeline to many tourism and hospitality businesses; not only keeping them afloat but also allowing them to comply with Covid safety requirements and pay staff and suppliers.

Looking ahead, 77% of respondents believe that maintaining the 12.5% VAT rate will be ‘highly important’ to businesses, with 6 in 10 saying the planned return to 20% VAT in April could lead to serious cutbacks and job losses.

This backs up Cumbria Tourism’s own research which shows that the extension of VAT relief is one of their key asks from the Government.

With Chancellor Rishi Sunak due to unveil his Autumn Budget and 3-year Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) in less than two weeks, Cumbria Tourism’s Managing Director Gill Haigh, says now is the time for action.

She comments, “Maintaining the 12.5% VAT rate would create longer-term stability for tourism and hospitality businesses. Overall it’s been a positive summer following the devastating impact of £1.5billion losses for Cumbria’s visitor economy during the pandemic, but the visitor economy is highly seasonal and many operators are still in survival mode as we head into the crucial winter period.

“A commitment from the Government on VAT would protect local jobs and communities and help businesses to invest in their staff and longer-term sustainability. It is vital that the industry’s voice is heard and we are working closely with a range of regional and national trade partners to get this message across at the highest level.”

Joe Cobb is Hotel Group Executive Manager at Lake District Country House Hotels. He adds, ‘The hospitality sector is the largest employer within our local community and the reduced VAT rate has helped businesses to build back following the challenges that the pandemic has produced. With the ever-changing world of staff shortages, supply chain struggles and increased costs, the prolonged support would allow businesses to continue to operate and support local communities. We very much welcome the calls for this extension and hope that the Government consider this further”.

*The research on the impact of keeping the 12.5% VAT rate has been carried out by a coalition of national trade bodies, including UKHospitality, the Tourism Alliance, the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), the British Beer & Pub Association and the British Institute of Innkeeping.