Tourism businesses from across Cumbria have met with the Executive Director of Government Communications, Alex Aiken, at one of the county’s leading visitor attractions to highlight some of the key challenges and opportunities for the visitor economy.

The discussions at Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery were coordinated by Cumbria Tourism in its role as the county’s Destination Management Organisation.

Mr Aiken was in Cumbria on a wider two-day visit to look at the impact of Covid-19, and economic recovery, and how the Government’s Levelling up white paper can support the area.

Cumbria Tourism’s Managing Director Gill Haigh led the meeting, which brought together businesses representing different parts of the tourism sector and county, alongside public sector partners including Cumbria County Council, Carlisle City Council and the Lake District National Park.

She said: “The impact of COVID-19 had a catastrophic impact for the county’s tourism industry in 2020, wiping £2billion off the value of our visitor economy.  Whilst Government support has been hugely welcomed, significant challenges remain – not least around recruitment, which is now potentially holding back future growth. Combined with rising costs and supply issues, many tourism and hospitality businesses continue to struggle.

 “At the same time, there is also huge opportunity. Looking ahead, there is the chance to capitalise on the new ‘staycation’ experience, convert the ‘new’ visitors we have attracted over the past 18 months into repeat custom and increase short breaks out of season. Supporting the return of international visitors also bring new possibilities.  

 “Now is the time to seize the moment, invest and really take tourism seriously as an economic driver for the UK. I know all the businesses involved in the meeting have really valued the opportunity to highlight both the challenges and the opportunities ahead directly to a government official – and in the year we celebrate 1900 years of Hadrian’s Wall, Carlisle was a fantastic place to showcase some of the county’s very finest tourism assets.”

 Alex Aiken added: “I was really excited to return to Cumbria after a gap caused by the Covid pandemic. I was last on holiday in Silloth in 2019. I also visited the area in the aftermath of the floods in 2016.

“It was fantastic to meet people working on the front line of public service and at the sharp end of getting tourists to Cumbria. It’s an appropriate time to visit as we come out of the pandemic and in the week that the Government published its levelling up white paper.”

Director at Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Andrew Mackay, is also a member of Cumbria LEP’s (Local Enterprise Partnership) Tourism & Visitor Economy sub-committee.

He added: “We are delighted that Alex visited us in Carlisle – we are pleased that our county has a voice with government and is being given space to talk about important issues affecting our local economy. We are looking forward to working together to support Cumbria’s growth.”

Cumbria Tourism says the additional financial support announced today by the Chancellor is welcome news, but more detail is needed – and there is still great anxiety about the prospect of new restrictions.

Rishi Sunak has this afternoon confirmed a package of measures to support tourism and hospitality businesses experiencing a sharp decline in customers amid growing concern about the impact of the Omicron variant and the Government’s move to Plan B.

This includes one-off grants of up to £6,000 for eligible businesses, a top-up for the Additional Restrictions Grants distributed by local authorities and further funding for the Cultural Recovery Fund to support theatres and museums. The statutory sick pay rebate scheme will also be reintroduced for Covid-related absences of up to two weeks.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “This package of measures is welcomed – and there looks to be some useful support for Cumbrian businesses – but we do really need to see the detail, in terms of which businesses will benefit and how quickly they can access funding.

 “As we don’t yet know what restrictions are on the way, it is extremely difficult to assess what the precise impact of this latest support will be for tourism operators. A massive amount of resource and planning goes into the Christmas and New Year period and businesses rely on this income to see them through the traditionally quieter winter months. So clear direction is now urgently needed on what to plan for.

 “The tourism and hospitality industry is currently in a very fragile state and collectively we must do all we can to ensure these businesses remain viable. We are pleased the Government has acknowledged that support is needed, but it remains to be seen whether today’s announcement is enough to see businesses through.”

Cumbria Tourism is calling on the county’s MPs to back calls for government assistance for the sector in the wake of the impact of Plan B.


After a disastrous first part to the year, when lockdown and restrictions closed businesses, the summer period saw strong demand across the county, albeit frustrated by staff shortages forcing many businesses to reduce normal service and therefore ability to recoup lost income.

Christmas and New Year is always an important time for tourism and hospitality businesses and the last main opportunity for them to generate income to help see them through the traditionally quieter winter period. After two very difficult years this festive season was more critical than ever, but with the arrival of the new variant and the Government implementation of Plan B and associated messaging, many businesses have seen a sharp downturn in demand over recent days.

This is causing significant concern within the industry and Cumbria Tourism has written to the county’s six MPs, urging them to back cross industry asks and, in doing so, help protect Cumbria’s tourism sector and its workers after another extremely difficult year.


The key asks include:

  • An extension of the discounted VAT rate to stretch beyond its scheduled end date of March 2022
  • Business Rates due in the first quarter to be deferred
  • An instruction from Government to councils to release grants and rates relief to those in need


Commenting, Managing Director, Gill Haigh said: “We can be proud of Cumbria’s tourism industry’s resilience and readiness to adapt, always ensuring community, staff and visitor safety is a priority. We are also grateful to Government for all its support to help keep many heads above water. However, the impact of the reaction to the Omicron variant is creating serious anxiety for businesses who have not been able to recover and we are therefore urging our MPs to add their support to calls for government intervention and emergency support.”

A renowned celebrity chef, a TV wine expert, a BBC Masterchef winner and a respected hospitality guru will be among the VIPs at the 45th Lakes Hospitality Show when it makes a welcome return in March 2022 – after a three-year absence.

New dates of Wednesday 9 and Thursday 10 March 2022 have been confirmed for Cumbria’s longest-running show of its kind, as it heads back to the Junction 36 Rural Auction Centre with a firm focus on seizing new opportunities for businesses to thrive.

Organised by the Lakes Hospitality Association (LHA) in conjunction with Cumbria Tourism, the free two-day event will feature multi-Michelin star and AA-Rosette-winning chef, author and restaurateur Jean-Christophe Novelli – known to millions for his TV appearances on shows including Hell’s Kitchen and Culinary Genius.

Other special guests during the two-day event will include South Cumbria-based Masterchef winner Irini Tzortzoglou, alongside TV wine expert Joe Wadsack and hospitality guru Andrew Coy.

Best known for his expertise on wine, Joe is also a wine columnist for The Sunday Express and has judged a variety of international wine competitions. Meanwhile, Andrew Coy is proprietor at Simply Banqueting and works with a range of hotels, venues, villas and private houses; he will bring personal tales of his 50+ years working in the hospitality trade, putting a focus on first-class customer service.

The 2022 event is extra special as it marks the show’s 45th anniversary, after being delayed by the pandemic. It will also include more than 130 stands spanning tourist attractions, food and drink suppliers and support services such as IT technology and catering equipment – from not just Cumbria, but across the North of England.

All four special guests will be holding masterclasses across both days on their specialist areas for food, beverage and service. They’ll also be available on a number of exhibition stands to answer questions and speak directly to businesses.

Cumbrian hotelier James Tasker is Director of the Lakes Hospitality Trade Show. He says “After a tough couple of years, it’s fantastic to be back and confirming the return of the Lakes Hospitality Trade Show. That includes a great line up of VIP masterclasses with a firm focus on helping businesses improve efficiency and profitability, stay ahead of key trends and find solutions to industry-wide challenges like recruitment and retention.

Over more than four decades, our event has always allowed those involved in the tourism and hospitality industry to come together and it will be great to be back face-to-face and stronger than ever! Due to pent-up demand, the Marquee for 2022 has already been further extended and almost all stands are now booked. Exhibitors have clearly reinforced the value of the show by holding their stands since before the pandemic and we are also dealing with a flood of new enquiries too.”

He adds, “It’s also important to recognise that the Lakes Hospitality Trade Show is free to attend and as the region’s original trade show, we are committed to re-directing profits raised from exhibitors back into promoting the county’s hospitality sector. This is fundamental to the way we run the show and amid the exceptional circumstances operators have faced in recent months, we know this is genuinely valued by hospitality businesses of all shapes and sizes.”

See the programme here for the Lakes Hospitality Trade Show 2022.

There are still a limited number of exhibition stands available. Contact for more information.


Cumbria Tourism triumphed at last night’s Prolific North Marketing Awards, after being ‘highly commended’ for #ThePerfectPlaceToBe marketing campaign.

The results were revealed at a ceremony in Leeds on Thursday 25 November, when finalists from across the North of England gathered to celebrate stand-out marketing campaigns chosen by a panel of industry leaders.

Cumbria Tourism’s summer marketing campaign was developed to help encourage visitors to rediscover lesser-known corners of the county following the national lockdown earlier this year.

It 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.

Cumbria Tourism’s Marketing Manager, Sue Clarke, says, “We are thrilled by this result!  #ThePerfectPlaceToBe summer campaign was all about encouraging 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.

“It was developed to help support Cumbria’s tourism and hospitality sector as it emerged from the pandemic, and this award is dedicated to all those businesses who have faced such a challenging time over the last 20 months.”

 She adds, “It’s also a fantastic public acknowledgement for the Cumbria Tourism team. We are all very proud of the campaign and the positive impact it has had. To be recognised for our industry expertise – alongside creative marketing and communications specialists from across the North of England – is an added boost for everyone involved.”

26th November 2021

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