Cumbria Tourism has today welcomed the Government’s announcement of additional financial support for Bed and Breakfasts alongside other small hospitality and leisure businesses that have so far been falling through the cracks.

According to the latest information, local authorities are being asked to prioritise businesses that pay Council Tax rather than Business Rates. Additionally, authorities will be given the discretion to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need. This will be administered through the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund (RHLGF)

There will be three levels of grant payments, with a maximum of £25,000. There will also be grants of £10,000 and authorities will also have discretion to make payments of any amount under £10,000. It will be for individual councils to adapt this approach to local circumstances and Cumbria Tourism will be liaising closely with all six of Cumbria’s local authorities to ensure this funding is directed to the businesses which need it the most.

Further details are scheduled to be announced next week but this appears to be a major boost for the hundreds of Bed and Breakfasts and small hospitality businesses across Cumbria which have suffered significantly due to the Coronavirus restriction measures but have so far been unable to access any support.

Responding to today’s news, Cumbria Tourism’s Managing Director, Gill Haigh, said: “Since the lockdown began Cumbria Tourism has dealt with over 1500 enquiries from businesses who have seen their livelihoods disappear overnight. Whilst the Chancellor has brought forward a wide range of welcome schemes which are helping many businesses with overheads, we have been deeply distressed by the plight of many of our members whose businesses contribute so hugely to the sector but who have found themselves outside the schemes through no fault of their own.

“This is particularly the case for our Bed and Breakfasts who had previously been advised to pay Council Tax rather than Business Rates. We have been working non-stop to support these businesses, gathering case studies, working with Government, using our influence with our MPs and partners and raising the issue across national, regional and local media and it is immensely encouraging to see this response today.

“We are grateful to our partners such as the Bed and Breakfast Association, the Tourism Alliance and UK Hospitality who have taken up our cause nationally. We await full details but on the face of it this additional funding appears to be the answer we have been fighting for. I can only imagine the relief it will bring to hundreds of businesses.

“We will share further information as soon as it is received.”

A new survey by Cumbria Tourism has found that by the end of next month, the Coronavirus pandemic will have cost the county’s tourism industry £1.45bn in revenue – almost half of tourism-related income for the county for the year.

Laying-bare the devastating effects of Covid-19 on hundreds of tourism businesses in all six of the county’s districts, the survey, sponsored Cumbria Tourism’s Strategic Partners, locally-based chartered accountants and consultancy service Lamont Pridmore, has found that 91% have received cancellations for May, June and July and into August.

The figures also predict an economic impact fall of 48% and a 49% drop in employment supported by tourism: A reduction of 18,459 jobs related to the sector.

According to Cumbria Tourism’s last full year of data, the county’s visitor economy contributed £3bn to the county annually, while supporting 65,000 jobs, equivalent to 26% of Cumbria’s working age population.

Cumbria Tourism’s President, Eric Robson, says, “The impact has been catastrophic for our tourism industry. Just coming out of winter, this crisis has come at the worst possible time when businesses were gearing-up to make money during the traditionally busier spring and summer seasons. That money is what would see them survive the quieter autumn and winter months.

“Even if some businesses can survive in the short term, grants and loans are just covering essential costs, they are not replacing profits. Some businesses will survive for long enough to re-open – but will they manage to get through the following nine or ten months into the 2021 visitor season?

“While nobody expects there to be an immediate bounce-back in terms of visitor numbers when lockdown finally ends, there is likely to be a phased approach to removing lockdown. This, combined with the changes in many households’ financial circumstances and changed visitor behaviour, is likely to compound the problem.”

Cllr David Southward MBE, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Property from Cumbria County Council, says, “It is vital that we work together to safeguard this industry so that it can provide growth and jobs for the county’s economy during the recovery. Never has there been a time when it has been more evident just how much the visitor economy underpins the wider economy. We are committed to working with the tourism industry and Cumbria Tourism to navigate our way through this constantly evolving situation, while working hard to support small businesses which all play a big role in the recovery efforts.”

Cumbria Tourism feeds updates to the government on a daily basis and is relying on the voices of businesses which are feeling the effects of the virus to strengthen the case for further government funding.

In just the last month, Cumbria Tourism has taken more than 1,500 enquiries from businesses seeking advice and information on how to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

For the first time, the Lakeland Book of the Year will be celebrating the fantastic array of writing inspired by Cumbria and the Lake District virtually, as organisers vow not to let Coronavirus halt the 36-year-old event.

68 books, all published in 2019, have been whittled down to a 24-strong longlist by judges Hunter Davies OBE, Cumbria Tourism President Eric Robson and broadcaster Fiona Armstrong. These three judges now have the unenviable task of selecting the shortlist, six category winners and overall Lakeland Book of the Year 2020 before the official announcement is made on 30 June.

Open to any book published in 2019 set in or featuring Cumbria in some way, this year’s entrants have once again highlighted the huge range of inspiration the region generates for both new and well-established authors.

“Every year I’m completely blown away by the staggering number of high-quality novels, histories, guides and poems entered” says Cumbria Tourism MD Gill Haigh, which supports and administers the annual competition. “2020 is an extra-special year for celebrating the Lakes’ literary heritage – originally the awards ceremony in June would have been a key part of Wordsworth 250 – a quarter of a millennium since the birth of Lakeland’s most noted writer. Unfortunately Coronavirus has meant that we can’t celebrate in the usual way but I’m very proud they are continuing in these difficult times. We know many people have planned breaks to Cumbria which have now been postponed or cancelled and we can’t wait to welcome tourists back as soon as it is safe to travel again. In the meantime, if anybody is looking for a good book to transport them to our county there’s a fantastic to selection from which to choose!”

Awards founder and judge Hunter Davies added “I am so pleased the annual Lakeland Book of the Year Awards is still going ahead, despite these trying times.  After all, we have managed for 36 years so far and we all hope it will go on forever – the only regional book prize in the whole of the UK.  It would have been so bitterly disappointing for those 68 authors who have submitted their books this year if the judging had not gone ahead.  For many of them, this is the first book they have ever written, working on it for many years, the culmination of years of study and passion and knowledge of a particular aspect of Cumbrian life, past or present.

“It is a shame that our grand lunch won’t take place this summer, the literary highlight of Lakeland life, but the judging will go on and their hard work will be recognised.  I don’t know about my fellow judges, Fiona and Eric, but thanks to self-isolating, I find so far I am reading the books even more attentively than usual, spinning out the pleasure.  They are my treats, my pudding, for the long days, with so little else happening.  I am lucky to have them.  And so is Cumbria… “

The awards, one of the most prestigious of their kind outside London, are kindly supported by the Cumbria Community Foundation Hunter Davies Fund, Striding Edge, the Bill Rollinson Award Association and Latitude Press Ltd. All sponsors are committed to recognising and supporting writing inspired by Cumbria’s landscape, heritage and people. Following shortlisting, the six category winners and overall 2020 Lakeland Book of the Year winner will be announced at www.lakelandbookoftheyear.co.uk on 30 June, with the news shared by @lakesbookawards on Twitter and Cumbria Tourism’s Facebook page. 2020 also marks a brand-new children’s poetry prize in celebration of William Wordsworth, and judged Michael McGregor, Director at The Wordsworth Trust and Ian Walker, Deputy Head at John Ruskin School.

Lakeland Book of the Year 2020 Longlist

  • Black Summer by M.W. Craven
  • Bob’s Jottings by Bob Jopling
  • The Cumberland Bard: Robert Anderson by Sue Allan
  • Cumbria at War by Ruth Mansergh
  • Embellish with Relish by Maria Whitehead
  • Grasmere: A History in 55½ Buildings by Grasmere History Group
  • Hows and Knotts: A Guide to Lakeland Views by Guy Richardson
  • I Hate the Lake District by Charlie Gere
  • Knockupworth – The Story of a Family by John Bainbridge
  • Lake District Bouldering by Greg Chapman
  • The Lake District in 101 Maps & Infographics by David Felton
  • The Lake District Survival Guide by Ian Young
  • The Magpie’s Nest by Taffy Thomas
  • Mountain Man: 446 mountains. Six months. One record-breaking adventure by James Forrest
  • My Dad’s Army: The White Gurkhas by Ian Wilson
  • Out of the Deep by Ruth Sutton
  • A Pennington Pepys (Extracts from The Commonplace & Diaries of William Fleming) by John Graeme Livingstone
  • A Peopled Landscape by Stephen Matthews
  • Rose by Sally Dalglish
  • Secrets of the Flock by J.B. Browne
  • Slightly Perfect by John Cunliffe
  • Two Days in May by David Clemson
  • The Understanding by Roger Dobson
  • Who Was Ann Gregg? By David Cooper-Holmes

Cumbria Tourism has been announced as the county’s official ‘portal’ to help coordinate accommodation for NHS staff who need an alternative place to stay while working on the front line to help people affected by Covid-19.

In recent days, Cumbria’s official destination management organisation has been working with Cumbria County Council to assist with coordinating key worker accommodation; A scheme deemed so successful, it has now been declared an official arrangement which will remain in place as long as necessary.

Cumbria Tourism would like to remind local residents that they may see unfamiliar faces in their communities in the coming weeks and months as accommodation providers offer them somewhere to stay for the purposes of social distancing from their own loved-ones while working to save lives.

Earlier this month, Cumbria Tourism launched a call for hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs and self-catering property businesses to offer their accommodation, with more than 30 accommodation providers coming forward to offer their assistance so far. Many requests for accommodation have come in from key workers themselves, as well as those who have volunteered to enter the key worker sector from other lines of work.

Cumbria Tourism also suggested key workers should be provided with a notice to display in their vehicles, to ensure they are not wrongly assumed by members of local communities to be holidaymakers. The Lake District National Park Authority has confirmed it will suggest the NHS implements such a scheme.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “We’re pleased to have been invited to play this critical support role in the fight against Coronavirus. Our key workers such as those in the NHS are risking their lives to help others, and it’s been heartening to see so many of our members offering their help in this way. We already have a direct link with hundreds of accommodation providers, making the process of linking-up workers with a place to stay very straightforward and efficient.

“While we are working with police and our other partners to vehemently oppose leisure visitors, but at the same time, we do ask that residents remember that many people in holiday accommodation are far more likely to be key workers than tourists, and should be treated with the respect, gratitude and warmth they deserve”.

A Cumbria County Council spokesperson said, “The county council is working alongside a range of partners to understand the demand for accommodation and is supporting Cumbria Tourism to identify and match suitable accommodation to those who need it.”

Lesley Hornsby, owner of No 43 B&B in Arnside, is one of many to have offered her property to key workers to help them carry on working to keep the public safe and is keen to let them know that they have her full support.

Lesley says, “Here in Arnside, we’ve seen amazing community spirit. We have the Arnside volunteer group and so many businesses making sure everyone gets the supplies they need, none of us even need to leave the village. This group has 500 members with great good-will, which I really wanted to extend to our key workers. Arnside is such an idyllic village in stunning location I thought it would be so lovely if key workers were able to enjoy the tranquillity during their precious and well-deserved time off, when between their long shifts”.

Key workers requiring accommodation, or providers who can offer somewhere to stay can register their interest here.

Ahead of the Easter weekend Cumbria Tourism is calling on all accommodation providers and booking websites to ensure there is no confusion around the county being closed to visitors.

 Whilst many accommodation providers and Online Travel Agents (OTAs) are complying with Government guidance, Cumbria Tourism is reminding businesses that they all have a part to play in keeping communities safe. Some accommodation providers which are closed may not have updated their online availability to reflect this, and OTAs also have a responsibility to ensure that their websites clearly show that it is not possible to travel to Cumbria at this time.

Cumbria has a “super-aging” population and this, together with the fact the county’s health services do not possess the capacity to service non-residents during a pandemic means that it is vital that visitors postpone their visit until the danger has passed.

 Cumbria Tourism MD Gill Haigh says “With the Lake District, Cumbria such a popular destination there are many businesses and websites who share our passion for the county, but we are aware that some of these are not up to date with the latest guidance, causing confusion and anxiety. As the county’s only official Destination management Organisation (DMO), and with the situation changing so quickly, we want to ensure that people receive the latest information and advice. Our visitor-facing websites www.visitlakedistrict.com and www.golakes.co.uk make it abundantly clear that the county is currently closed and we will continue broadcasting this message until it safe to travel once again.

 ““If any businesses are currently accepting bookings during this lockdown period, they must cancel or postpone these immediately. To anyone considering a visit in the coming weeks our message is simple: now is not the time to travel to Cumbria. We look forward to welcoming tourists back to enjoy our glorious landscape but only when it is safe and legal to do so.”

 UKinbound CEO Joss Croft commented; “It’s an incredibly testing time for all of us and we know that many tourism businesses of all sizes are facing great hardship, but we all have a duty of care to uphold and reinforce the stay at home message. It’s imperative that businesses do not accept bookings for stays or encourage visitation of any kind during the lockdown period, and that they save that world-class welcome for when visitors can properly travel.”

Cumbria Tourism has been working in partnership with the Cumbria Police, the Lake District National Park Authority and others to spread this message and help reduce the chance of infections spreading. They have also developed an online resource for businesses affected by the situation, available at www.cumbriatourism.org/coronavirus.

Tourism businesses are being praised for adapting their usual practices in efforts to help residents and workers across the county who are being affected by COVID-19.

Cumbria Tourism is working around the clock to support attractions, accommodation providers and other sector-related businesses as the industry and local communities collectively face their biggest-ever challenge in the face of Coronavirus.

Working with its partners, member businesses and Cumbria County Council, the organisation is also helping accommodation providers adapt their services to assist with the local emergency response.

As Cumbria County Council makes calls for temporary workers to support the delivery of critical care services over the coming weeks, it is working alongside Cumbria Tourism to find cooks and domestic support staff to help the most vulnerable members of local communities.

It’s hoped these calls will bring new opportunities for affected workers in the leisure and tourism sector, as well as the creation of new jobs by supporting services including those dedicated to helping with the co-ordination of providing beds for key workers and patients.

While hotels, hostels, B&Bs and self-catering properties have been told to temporarily shut-down under government social distancing measures, exceptions have been made to ensure help is available for frontline key workers who may need alternative accommodation.

Evidence of collaborative working is also rapidly stemming beyond accommodation providers, with many members of Cumbria Tourism quickly developing alternative services and solutions to adapt to the rapidly-changing environment.

Among them, are Chestnut House in Penrith, which has launched a service to deliver locally sourced food to people in-need from surrounding towns and villages. Nutritious take-home meals for the elderly and most vulnerable residents of the Cartmel area are being cooked up by Simon Rogan, owner of L’Enclume and Rogan & Co, while Carvetii Coffee Roasters at Threlkeld is supporting the future of local coffee shops by donating 10% of online orders in the form of coffee beans to each buyer’s nominated branch.

Skincare business Pure Lakes is donating 50 tins of hand balm to local frontline NHS staff, to help return some much-needed moisture to their skin as a result of being well washed and sanitised. Ulverston-based Gin producer, Shed 1, is also producing hand sanitiser (pictured).

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “These are just a few amazing examples of how our local businesses are doing whatever they can to help those in need during this incredibly difficult time. Rather than be beaten by this virus, our businesses are adapting and diversifying however they can, not just to stay in business, but to reach out and help people who really need it.

“Both myself and the whole Board at Cumbria Tourism highly commend these efforts, as this is exactly the kind of teamwork and compassion which, when combined, really go to show what a fantastic community of businesses which we have the pleasure of living among and working with.”

Cumbria Tourism is collating information from all over the county about how businesses are helping with the COVID-19 situation and adapting to reach new customers. Stories can be sent to the team, by emailing info@cumbriatourism.org.

Cumbria Tourism reinforces message telling visitors to stay away

 Jim Walker, Chair of Cumbria Tourism said, “Last night the Prime Minister issued strict new instructions for us all, to protect the NHS and to help save lives in this time of national emergency. All visitors, second home-owners and holiday park caravan owners are very clearly being told to stay at home in their primary residence and we urge people to do just that. We now also need anyone who is here already to return home.

 “Visitors, tourism businesses and residents must take responsibility for themselves and their wider communities. We cannot stress how vitally important this is for Cumbria and its ‘super-ageing’ population, not only to limit the spread of the virus but also to safeguard local health services and infrastructure, which may well come under immense pressure just servicing those local residents’ needs.

 He adds, “To support tourism businesses, our phone lines continue to be open and we are responding to queries as quickly as possible. This is a situation no-one could have anticipated, but we are continuing to lobby the Government for further practical and immediate financial support to help our industry through this critical time. We are also asking tourism operators to keep completing our Business Impact Survey, so we can share evidence of their first-hand experiences with high-level decision-makers.”

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, ‘With the weekend coming up and this gorgeous weather we’re having, it’s even more important that we all follow government advice and stay at home. We know it could be very tempting to head to the fells, lakes and other outdoor spaces across Cumbria and the Lake District, but please don’t. We ask you to think about the community, your own health and that of household members, be responsible, stay at home and together we can stop the spread of this disease and help save lives.’

One of the best known figures in Cumbria’s business community has been selected as a finalist in the ‘IoD North West & Isle of Man Director of the Year Awards 2020’.

Jennifer Cormack has made the shortlist in the Non-Executive Director category, in recognition of her role as a Cumbria Tourism Board Director.

Jennifer is Sales and Marketing Director at Windermere Lake Cruises, also Chairs the English Lake District China Forum and was voted onto the Board of Directors at UKinbound last year – the only trade association to represent the country’s inbound travel industry.

The winners will be revealed at the prestigious Institute of Directors (IoD) awards ceremony at The Hilton in Manchester on Thursday 14 May 2020.

Commenting on the announcement, Jennifer says, “I’m obviously thrilled to have been shortlisted and I’m so grateful to those who nominated me. Collaborative working has never been as important as it is right now, given the challenges we are all working through. However, we work through it together as a team, and calm seas never made a good sailor.

“It is always such a pleasure working with the members of staff and fellow Board Directors at Cumbria Tourism, but also working closely with businesses from across Cumbria and the North of England to strengthen the wider Cumbrian economy. I feel truly humbled to be recognised by the IoD in this way, which motivates me even further to do whatever I can to steer us through these challenging times faced by so many amazing businesses.”

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “Cumbria Tourism is the county’s largest membership organisation, representing approximately 2,500 member businesses and we are extremely fortunate to have such a strong and supportive Board who, between them, possess a wealth of expertise and a shared ambition for Cumbria Tourism members.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that Jennifer is a real powerhouse in the tourism industry, working internationally, national, regionally and here in Cumbria and she brings that same level of energy and commitment to Cumbria Tourism. Along with Cumbria Tourism’s Board and staff, I wish Jennifer the best of luck following this well-deserved nomination.”