Following the General Election results, the county’s official Destination Management Organisation, Cumbria Tourism, is urging the Government to move forward with its promised Tourism Sector Deal.

It is also calling on all politicians to fully recognise the importance of Cumbria’s £3billion visitor economy for driving economic growth and increasing productivity.

That message is backed up by the results of Cumbria Tourism’s newly released Business Survey, which highlights continued rising costs, recruitment and staffing, and reduced consumer spending as key concerns for tourism businesses. It is Cumbria Tourism’s latest six-monthly ‘health check’ examining how the tourism sector has been performing and is carried out in association with Lamont Pridmore.

Cumbria Tourism’s research team asked targeted questions around skills, staff retention and environmental sustainability as part of the new survey. The aim was to better understand key challenges and opportunities – and in this new political landscape, it will also help to shape future priorities for an industry which supports almost 65,000 jobs across the county.

 

Key findings included:

  • 62% of tourism businesses say their costs have gone up over the last six months.
  • 52% of tourism businesses have already experienced negative impacts due to Brexit. The area of most concern is the impact on operating costs. On a scale of 1 to 10, (where 1 is not at all, and 10 is completely), most businesses rated their Brexit-readiness as between 6 and 7.
  • 77% said recruitment of staff continues to be a problem and almost half (48%) also reported problems with retaining staff. Lack of suitable, affordable housing for staff is a significant issue for around 70% of tourism businesses. Lack of public transport is a problem for 66%, and travel to work distance is an issue for 61%.
  • At the same time, tourism businesses are taking a range of measures to support their staff.  For example, 83% offer flexible working arrangements, 62% invest in training, 51% try to limit unsociable shifts, and 42% provide accommodation.
  • Sustainability and green credentials are increasingly important to consumers and tourism businesses are working to be more environmentally friendly. For instance, 89% are increasing their recycling practices, 86% are reducing their use of plastics and 69% are reducing food waste.
  • Overall confidence levels have remained broadly similar over the last 18 months. 61% of tourism businesses feel confident “to some degree” about the next six months.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “It’s vital that the Government and Cumbria’s politicians recognise and support our £3billion tourism industry.

 “The latest feedback from businesses highlights some positive signs, but there can be no doubt that these are challenging times as we head into 2020.  As a county, we must collectively use this latest first-hand research to make the case for future investment, strategy and business support with key decision-makers. Amid concerns around the proposed post-Brexit £30,000 skills cap, issues around recruitment, retention and skills really are top priorities for urgent Government attention.

Other key issues raised within the Business Survey will help to guide the direction of our day-to-day work as the county’s Destination Management Organisation. That includes the need for new product development, improved accessibility and inclusivity, and better digital connectivity. The research also backs up our ongoing work to market Cumbria as an all-year round destination, drawing on the international strength and reputation of the Lake District brand to attract staying visitors who want to discover and explore the county as a whole.”

 She adds, “Not only will this latest research help to shape our own activity and strategy for the coming months, but this rich data is also vital for informing key partners including the Government, MPs, the county’s local authorities, the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership and the Lake District National Park in their work on behalf of the tourism sector.”

Chief Executive of Lamont Pridmore, Graham Lamont, comments, “With Brexit looming on the horizon, challenging times are continuing for Cumbria’s tourism businesses and will definitely impact the sector as we head in 2020 and beyond. 

 “We are delighted to support Cumbria Tourism as a Strategic Partner, and in sponsoring this vital twice-yearly research study.  Having a robust understanding of the needs, challenges and successes facing tourism businesses means Cumbria Tourism can continue to fight for the support and recognition from Government needed to ensure our tourism economy thrives.”

For further information on Cumbria Tourism’s research activity: www.cumbriatourism.org/research

Are you the next Wordsworth? The 2020 Hunter Davies Lakeland Book of the Year Award is open to entries and it’s time to make your literary mark in a year packed full of literary events centred around the 250th anniversary of the iconic poet’s birth.

The Lakeland Book of the Year 2020 will celebrate and cherish the wide range of literature created in the area’s honour over the past 12 months. Open to any book published in 2019 and set in or featuring Cumbria, the awards showcase how the Lake District continues to inspire creativity in many forms.

Recent winners have included Alan Cleaver and Lesley Park’s The Corpse Roads of Cumbria in 2019 and Phil Rigby’s photographic collection Portrait of Cumbria in 2018. Many entries also focus on the area’s worldwide reputation for adventure and the outdoors, with fellow Lakeland legend Alfred Wainwright winning in 1985.

Joint 2019 winner Alan said “I’d encourage authors, publishers and readers to support this unique award. Most authors work quietly at writing their books with little or no recognition so it’s wonderful Hunter Davies, his fellow judges, Cumbria Tourism, the county’s bookshops and all the sponsors do so much to shine the limelight on this quiet band of workers. Lesley and I were so honoured to win last year, particularly given the astonishingly high standard of all the other entrants. It was wonderful to be recognised by peers – and I have to say the publicity also gave Corpse Roads of Cumbria a boost too!

“I’d urge authors and publishers to put their modesty aside and support these awards – let’s show the rest of the country just what’s being achieved in this corner of England. It’s time to bang the drum for the fantastic literary work being produced in the Lake District.”

Not only a prolific poet, producing some of the most iconic writings in the English language, Wordsworth and his words have inspired countless rhymes, novels, plays and more. From his collaborations with Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the Lakes Poets during his lifetime to the high-quality works produced by locals and visitors today his mark on the Lake District’s cultural heritage cannot be overstated. With celebrations of his work and life taking place across the county from the National Trust, Lake District National Park, Wordsworth Trust and more 2020 promise to highlight not only Wordsworth’s contribution to British literature but also the amazing works inspired by the landscape.

The judges, who all have a background in writing and broadcasting, are:

  • Awards founder Hunter Davies OBE
  • Cumbria Tourism President Eric Robson
  • Fiona Armstrong, Lord Lieutenant of Dumfries

The panel will read and shortlist entries before category winners and the overall book of the year are announced at a charity event on 30th June 2020. Last year’s supported cause, local mental health charity Growing Well, received more than £1500 from the event.

Authors and publishers can learn more about how to enter at www.lakelandbookoftheyear.co.uk or by contacting Cumbria Tourism at info@cumbriatourism.org. The deadline for entries is Friday 28th February 2020.

Cumbria Tourism provides administration and PR support to the Lakeland Book of the Year alongside external organisers and the judging panel.

 

  1. Learn more and enter

With less than three weeks to go before winter officially begins, a campaign to support accommodation and attractions during the cosier months is well-underway at Cumbria Tourism, to ensure the county continues to be widely recognised as an all-year-round destination.

Over the next three months, #theplacetobe campaign will focus on visitors challenging themselves by taking part in new, adventurous activities, as well as highlighting health and wellbeing benefits by choosing Cumbria as a place to relax and unwind in cosy surroundings.

With 14 million page views every year, our visitor-facing website golakes.co.uk is the central focal point for would-be guests to book their winter breaks and access seasonal offers for accommodation and events. This winter, there is also the added bonus of Cumbria offering more Michelin-starred restaurants than ever before – the highest number of stars anywhere north of London.

The stars don’t stop there either, with The Lake District, Cumbria boasting some of the darkest skies in the country – giving visitors just one great excuse to visit beyond Christmas and the New Year.

As part of the campaign, Cumbria Tourism is developing targeted content to help inspire winter visits on social media and through a programme of press trips with more national travel writers. The continuing growth of social media is also expected to play a key role in the campaign’s success, with a massive 26 million people reading about Cumbria through platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

With huge potential to grow the seasonal visitor economy when Cumbria has the capacity to accommodate additional visitors, the latest phase of #theplacetobe campaign again aims to drive much-needed trade during the winter months and encourage longer stays, in all six of the county’s districts.

To support tourism businesses, an interactive resource is available with ideas, itineraries and imagery they can use on their own websites and marketing channels. Cumbria Tourism is also partnering with individual businesses to offer them more tailored packages of support during the low season.

Head of Marketing and Sales, Rachel Tyson, says, “Winter trading is vital for our local economy and communities, helping to create and maintain all year-round employment for many people. Cumbria is one of the few rural and coastal destinations to attract people all year-round, so a high-impact campaign is vital to maintain visitor confidence and cement this trend during a traditionally quieter time of year.

Last winter’s five-month programme of seasonal marketing activity reached a combined audience of more than 34 million people thanks to travel features generated by Cumbria Tourism in titles including The Times, Sunday Times Travel, The Telegraph, The Express and People’s Friend.

Businesses who want to showcase their products and services to the hospitality sector at one of the region’s biggest trade events of 2020 are being urged to hurry, as spaces at the Cumbrian event are becoming increasingly limited.

With only nine exhibition spaces left in the main hall, the county’s longest-running trade show returns on March 25 & 26 as organisers promise to build on 2019’s success – which saw the show become bigger and more diverse than ever before.

The Lakes Hospitality Association (LHA) is working with Cumbria Tourism to stage the 45th Lakes Hospitality Trade Show at the Junction 36 Rural Auction Centre, just a few seconds from the M6 motorway – making the show not only one of the biggest in the north of England, but one of the most easily accessible.

New for 2020, two special guest speakers have been confirmed, with organisers delighted to welcome industry experts Joe Wadsack (pictured) and Andrew Coy.

Best known for his expertise on wine, Joe’s TV credentials include regular appearances on shows including Great Food Live, Saturday Kitchen, Ladette to Lady and Richard and Judy. A wine columnist for The Sunday Express, Joe also writes for magazines including ‘Waitrose Food Illustrated’, ‘Red’ and regular articles in the trade press. Joe also judges at various international wine competitions and acts as a consultant to numerous companies in the wine trade.

Meanwhile, Andrew Coy will bring his tales of his 50+ years working in the hospitality trade to the event, putting a focus on how to deliver the very best customer service. Andrew is Proprietor at Simply Banqueting and undertakes consultancy contracts in Private Houses, Villas, Hotels and Venues. Andrew also manages VIP areas at major events, mentors young managers, leads courses for those undertaking customer service training; and also trains and develops butlers in both private and corporate service.

More than 1,250 delegates from across Cumbria, Lancashire, Yorkshire and beyond were welcomed through the doors during last year’s two-day event, where the show hosted a record-breaking 136 stands for a wide range of hospitality businesses including tourist attractions, food and drink suppliers and support services such as IT technology and catering equipment.

 For 2020, even more exhibition stands have been made available, giving businesses from across Cumbria and the north of England the chance to showcase their products and services to hospitality industry businesses from all over Lancashire, Cheshire, Manchester, Liverpool and the North East. The 2020 Lakes Hospitality Trade Show will also include the introduction of ‘Level 1’; 17 new stands created for smaller or start-up businesses, for just £225+vat for both days.

Cumbrian hotelier and Director of the Lakes Hospitality Trade, James Tasker, says, “Several new companies have already confirmed their attendance with more signing-up every week, meaning people who’ve been to the show in previous years will still see something new in 2020. It’s a real testament to the strength and depth of the region’s hospitality sector that even after four decades, this event remains so popular with diverse, forward-thinking businesses who want to showcase their brands and build meaningful relationships across the industry.”

Alongside the expanded exhibition space there will be a packed programme of workshop sessions and further seminars aimed at sharing business insights and prompting topical debate.

Again, profits from the show will be ploughed back into the tourism sector, with charitable contributions for key visitor events during the year. Previous funding beneficiaries include Bowness Bay Blues Festival, Kendal Torchlight Carnival, Windermere and Hawkshead Christmas Markets and the Barrow Super Soapbox Challenge.

James continues, “The vast majority of the main hall has been booked by exhibitors already, which is fantastic news four months ahead of the event. What’s particularly encouraging is the growing support we’re receiving not just from businesses in the Lakes, but also in North and West Cumbria, as well as parts of Lancashire. To survive and prosper, it’s essential we all take an outward-looking view and keep making new connections beyond our immediate local areas.”

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, comments, “I am constantly blown away by what a vibrant and innovative sector we have and it’s great to be part of the ever-expanding Lakes Hospitality Trade Show. It’s a fantastic way for businesses to network, share knowledge and inspire each other – all invaluable in an increasingly competitive world, where companies face difficult challenges and pressures to succeed. It’s brilliant to see so much enthusiasm for the hospitality sector at this annual event and the vibe is always one of extreme positivity for the opportunities which lie ahead.”

To find out more about exhibiting at the Lakes Hospitality Trade Show, visit: www.lakeshospitalitytradeshow.co.uk

An ambassador for one of the world’s most influential travel guides ‘Lonely Planet’, has highlighted The Lake District, Cumbria as one of her favourite places to visit without using a car, thanks to a successful partnership with Cumbria Tourism.

As part of the official destination management organisation’s ongoing efforts to reduce the number of cars on the county’s roads, it formed a partnership with successful blogger Chloe Gunning – known to her online community as ‘Wanderlust Chloe’, who enjoys a combined online audience of almost a quarter of a million people.

Working with transport providers, accommodation and attractions in the northern Lake District, Cumbria Tourism welcomed Chloe and her partner – also a successful travel blogger in his own right, for a four-day visit to the Ullswater area designed specifically to dispel the myths that a car is a much-needed transportation method.

Arriving on the West Coast Main Line by train and getting around the area exclusively by bus, boat, e-bike and on foot, Chloe showcased the area in a special video highlighting the visit, published across both Chloe and Cumbria Tourism’s own channels.

The partnership with Chloe is just one part of Cumbria Tourism’s ongoing campaign to encourage more visitors to leave the car at home and choose more sustainable transport methods.

Chloe, who likes to avoid driving whenever possible, says, “Social media plays a very influential role in destination marketing. Videos in particular, have the power to transport the viewer to a destination they may never have considered visiting before. Whether it’s showcasing the highlights of a region or sharing an important message such as the car-free angle for this visit, it’s easier to connect with people around the world than it’s ever been before. I loved exploring more of the Lake District on my recent trip, and it was great to experience so much across a few days without needing to get behind the wheel.”

Head of Marketing & Partnerships at Cumbria Tourism, Rachel Tyson, says, “As social media becomes an increasingly important way to promote businesses, products and services, it has also become a primary resource for people considering where to take their next holiday. We strongly feel that part of a relaxing break comes by getting away from the car and using other ways of moving around, which Chloe illustrated perfectly. We’re absolutely thrilled with the success of Chloe’s blog and video; and it’s a really strong indicator of how people are choosing to research locations for their next getaway.

“Tourism is absolutely vital for Cumbria’s economy and younger people in particular are becoming increasingly conscious of living a more sustainable lifestyle – not only for their personal wellbeing, but for the heath of their children and many more generations to come. It was a pleasure working with Chloe and look forward to welcoming her again in the future”.

Chloe’s blog attracts around 185,000 views per month, with 430,000 views of her video content on YouTube. In addition, Chloe also enjoys a social media following of nearly 50,000 people.

You can see Chloe’s video on golakes.co.uk here and find all of Chloe’s social media links via her blog, here.

The government’s recently announced sector deal has set out its ambition to make the UK the most accessible tourism destination in Europe by 2025 and with Purple Tuesday highlighting the growing need for change, Cumbria Tourism is supporting next month’s brand-new Tourism for Everyone Conference.

Held at the Low Wood Bay Resort & Spa on the 3rd December and with key speakers from VisitEngland, the Calvert Trust and Lakeland Arts, the event will feature presentations and workshops designed to help tourism businesses increase their awareness of the needs of the customers and how they can change their business practices to better accommodate them.

20% of visits to the county already include at least one member with additional needs and this figure is expected to rise, particularly with the government’s plans projected to increase the number of disabled international visitors by a third.

Justin Farnan, Sales and Marketing Manager at the Calvert Trust, which won the 2019 Cumbria Tourism Award for Accessible Tourism, will be showcasing the Trust’s disability-focused service as a case study for other tourism businesses to take inspiration from. Justin says “As an organisation focussed on providing activity breaks for those with disabilities we’re fully committed to making Cumbria and the Lake District as accessible as possible. Irrespective of whether the disability is physical, learning or sensory – or a combination of all three – we know that a visit to such a beautiful area can have a real therapeutic benefit. A little thought and understanding into how to make an activity, attraction or accommodation unit supportive of visitors with disabilities, and their carers, goes a long way. With over 40 years of operational experience we know first-hand that making your business truly disability-friendly delivers great levels of repeat business as well as bringing in new customers”.

Event organiser and advocate for increased accessibility provisions across Cumbria and beyond Julia Walker from Lake District Mobility says This event is a fantastic opportunity for businesses. Attendees will have a chance to hear first hand personal and business experiences on seen and unseen disabilities.

“20% of tourism visitors to Cumbria include somebody with a disability and this figure is expected to increase in the near future. Therefore, it’s vital that hotels, restaurants and attractions right across the county ensure that they’re open and welcoming to all potential customers. Disability comes in many forms, some more visible than others, and there are many things businesses can do to make peoples’ stays easier and much more welcoming, increasing the chances of them returning again and again.”

Recent successes within the county include the installation of a Changing Places bathroom at the National Trust’s Fell Foot site on Windermere as part of a National Heritage Lottery Fund project within a Grade II listed boathouse – the first of its kind in the Lake District National Park.

Cumbria Tourism will also be increasing awareness around the county’s accessible offering around the event of Purple Tuesday (12th November) for visitors with blog posts and social media highlighting activities suitable for visitors with a wide range of additional needs.

Business representatives can sign up for the event online by visiting www.cumbriatourism.org/shop/access-for-all-conference or by calling Sam Tollerson on 01539 822 222. Tickets cost £20 + VAT.

Hot on the heels of England being named as the second-best country to visit worldwide in 2020, Cumbria Tourism says there are fresh opportunities to grow international visitor markets post-Brexit.

Lonely Planet has just unveiled its ‘Best in Travel 2020’, with England scooping the silver spot (second only to Bhutan). Amid the continuing uncertainty of Brexit, the renowned travel guide publisher says “timeless treasures” such as historic castles, quaint villages and rolling countryside are still big draws for international visitors – all features the Lake District, Cumbria has in abundance.

Meanwhile, it’s predicted that a post-Brexit fall in the value of the pound could make it cheaper for overseas visitors to travel to the UK, as well as making overseas travel more expensive and prompting more UK residents to choose staycations rather than holidaying abroad.

We are encouraging businesses to diversify their international markets and consider overseas visitors from beyond Europe, including core markets such as the USA and emerging audiences including India and China.

Our Sales & Marketing Manager, Sue Clarke, believes tourism and hospitality businesses should continue to feel confident about targeting international markets – whatever the eventual outcome of Brexit.  She says, “Significant work is already being done to attract international visitors. Lake District businesses have been working in Japan for more than 25 years and great work has also been done to develop the China market.  Most recently, Cumbria Tourism has identified India as a key emerging market. If you aren’t currently working with international markets, our advice is always pick the ones that are relevant for YOUR business; this may be an EU country, or it might not be. Don’t avoid targeting European markets if they are actually the best fit for you.

She adds, “We should also remember that domestic visitors are Cumbria’s core market. We’ve seen that people are holding off foreign holidays, so now is the perfect time to capitalise. If people are worried about the financial implications of European holidays post-Brexit, businesses should consider what they can do to make it easy and attractive to the domestic market. We would always recommend you promoting the destination first, and then individual businesses. Inspire your audience, then reassure them about accessibility and ease of travel.”

A packed line-up of specialist speakers have been confirmed for a large-scale Brexit event to help Cumbria’s tourism businesses with their last minute preparations for the UK’s planned departure from the EU.

UKInbound is among the sector-specific experts to be revealed for the free ‘Are you ready for Brexit?’ conference on Tuesday 29 October 2019, alongside speakers covering a range of HR, legal and financial issues which could specifically affect tourism and hospitality businesses.

Suitable for B&Bs/guesthouses, hotels, visitor attractions, retailers and suppliers, the conference at the Low Wood Bay Resort & Spa will also include three practical workshops covering post-Brexit employment issues, recruitment and retention, and protecting sales.

Cumbria-based companies such as Cumberland Business, Thomson Hayton Winkley, Armstrong Watson, Langdale Hotel & Spa and People Junction will all be on hand to help businesses navigate the maze of uncertainty.

 

Helping hospitality staff welcome international customers:

To coincide with Brexit, Cumbria Tourism has also unveiled plans for a free workshop on Welcoming International Customers’ on Wednesday 30 October 2019, at Lindeth Howe Country House Hotel.

Aimed at front-end staff such as receptionists, concierges, and bar and restaurant staff, a specialist trainer will help participants enhance their understanding of different cultures and build the skills and confidence they need to help attract more international visitors. Everyone who successfully completes the training will receive official Welcome to Excellence certification.

Both events are part of a package of activity being spearhead by Cumbria Tourism, after the organisation was awarded funding from the Government’s Business Readiness Fund to tackle Brexit-related areas of concern for the county’s £3billion tourism industry.

Cumbria Tourism is providing additional help and support to tourism businesses through webinars, targeted newsletters, a new microsite, public relations and social media.

 

Businesses can book now for the ‘Are you ready for Brexit?’ conference (Tues 29 Oct) and the Welcoming International Customers course (Weds 30 Oct).

Thousands of pounds are up for grabs to help fund the promotion of events right across Cumbria, with organisers being invited to begin the applications process for a share of the cash now.

The process to apply for grants from the Lakes Hospitality Association (LHA) has been opened-up to everyone for the first time, with a slice of thousands of pounds available for events taking place outside of the busy tourist seasons.

Those who are successful in their applications for a grant will be provided with funds to assist with each event’s public relations and sales & marketing strategies through working with Cumbria Tourism.

Funds are raised by the Lakes Hospitality Trade Show, which celebrates its 45th anniversary in 2020 and takes place at the J36 Auction Mart on 25-26 March.

Attracting hundreds of hospitality professionals to Cumbria every year, exhibitors at the show represent everything from décor and furniture to insurance and eco-friendly products.

Describing their event funding offer as “a fundamental principle” of the Lakes Hospitality Trade Show, the LHA says the scheme creates a direct way of ploughing money back into Cumbria’s essential tourism industry.

To further boost all year-round tourism, the LHA are looking for events taking place outside the main tourist season.

Previous funding beneficiaries include Bowness Bay Blues Festival, Kendal Torchlight Carnival, Windermere and Hawkshead Christmas Markets and the Barrow Super Soapbox Challenge.

LHA Director, James Tasker, says, “The Lakes Hospitality Trade Show is unique – not only for being the only show of its kind in the area, but as profits are redirected back into projects and events that will directly benefit local economies, the Bowness Bay Blues Festival and the Kendal Torchlight Festival being a couple of high profile examples – the latter of which sees the population of the town double during the evening, which is a welcome post-summer financial boost.

“While the trade show itself is just a two-day event, its effects are more far-reaching than for just that time-period and for individuals who work in our industry. The whole Cumbrian community feels the benefits of the trade show all year-round, thanks to large chunks of funding being raised for some of the county’s best-loved events. A highlight of the summer was in Barrow, where 14,000 people enjoyed the Super Soapbox Challenge.

“We’re really excited to see our grants scheme grow from strength to strength as we work hand-in-hand with both local businesses and communities to help Cumbria grow and prosper during what we all know are increasingly competitive and uncertain times.”

Working in partnership with Cumbria Tourism, the LHA will review each application thoroughly, so the more information applicants can provide, the better.

Events must take place between September 2020 and August 2021. They can be brand new or established events but must be taking place outside of the main tourist seasons, such as the school summer holidays.

To apply for funding, click here. Please note, the applications process closes on 31 January 2020.

The 45th annual Lakes Hospitality Trade Show takes place on March 25-26 at the J36 Rural Auction Centre at Crooklands – just a one-minute drive from the M6 motorway.