Event to feature Brexit-themed debate for businesses

It may be in its 44th year, but the Lakes Hospitality Trade Show  is shaping up to be the biggest yet with a record-breaking 140+ exhibitors now signed up for the event. It’s also been revealed that a series of free workshops and seminars will feature a topical Brexit-themed debate just two weeks before the UK’s planned departure from the EU.

Momentum is building for Cumbria’s longest-running trade show, which will bring together a diverse range of hospitality businesses from across Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire at the Junction 36 Rural Auction Centre on Wednesday 13 and Thursday 14 March 2019.

For the second year running, the Lakes Hospitality Association (LHA) is teaming up with Cumbria Tourism to stage the event, which this year coincides with the final countdown to the Brexit deadline.

Cumbrian hotelier and Director of the Lakes Hospitality Trade Association, James Tasker, says, “Businesses are telling us that Brexit is the hot topic they cannot ignore, so we’ve decided to stage a special panel debate as part of the show where businesses can explore how Brexit might impact them. That includes the steps they can take to maximise the positives and minimise the negatives.

 “It’s just one of a series of workshops and seminars being held across the two days looking at industry news and trends, from tackling chef shortages and diversifying your business to creating a digital marketing plan and working with social media influencers. With more than 1,200 people attending last year’s show, the event is an annual focal point for the region’s hospitality industry and it is a real opportunity to build relationships, showcase new developments and prepare for the year to come.”

Attendance for the 2019 Lakes Hospitality Trade Show is free and delegates can book ahead for the workshop sessions, including a place in the audience for the Brexit Panel Debate at 10.30am on Wednesday 13 March.

Cumbria Tourism is urging businesses, residents and visitors alike to voice their love for the county as part of this year’s Cumbria Day this Wednesday 23 January 2019.

Cumbria Day will see businesses from across Cumbria being brought together by the county’s six MPs in the Palace of Westminster, alongside representatives from key organisations including Cumbria Tourism. To support this high-level celebration of all things Cumbrian, the county’s official Destination Management Organisation has launched an online campaign across its 300,000 followers on social media to get #cumbriaday trending.

At the same time, Cumbria Tourism is urging its 2,500 member businesses and partners to throw their weight behind the event by sharing #cumbriaday and showcasing why it is #theplacetobe. The organisation is also encouraging Cumbria fans to share their best images, anecdotes and fun facts about the county – whether that’s someone who’s visited in the past, has family connections to the area or simply admires the Lake District, Cumbria from afar.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “It’s little wonder that visitors come back to Cumbria again and again. It is a unique and dynamic county full of diverse businesses, world-class landscapes and authentic people who are staunchly proud of this special place.

“As an organisation, we’re also immensely proud to be part of the event at Westminster, which gives us a chance to showcase some thriving Cumbrian businesses to decision-makers at the heart of government. Importantly, Cumbria Day also gives anyone with a passion for the county a real opportunity to shout about our successes and explain why Cumbria is so vibrant, surprising and unique.”

 She adds, “This is a great opportunity to share how proud we are to live, work or just love this wonderful part of the world and raise awareness with visitors – old and new. Let’s get #CumbriaDay trending!”

People can get involved by following @golakes and @cumbriatourism and sharing stories on social media.

Amateur and professional writers from across Cumbria and further afield are in with a chance to receive widespread recognition with the 2019 Lakeland Book of the Year Awards.

Entries are now open for the prestigious competition, which can include any book published in 2018 set in or featuring Cumbria. Founded by Hunter Davies OBE 35 years ago and supported by Cumbria Tourism and main sponsors James Cropper, the Lakeland Book of the Year celebrates the amazing variety and quantity of writing that the Lake District, Cumbria inspires. The winner is whittled down from around 70 books each year, clearly showing that Cumbria is just as inspirational as when it was the setting for the work of Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey.

Each category winner (five in total) will receive a prize and recognition of their high-quality publication as one of the best from the last 12 months. However, only one of these will receive the ultimate accolade of the Hunter Davies Lakeland Book of the Year 2019.

The all-star judging panel with the task of reading all entries and selecting the shortlist and final winner are:

  • Head judge and founder Hunter Davies OBE (prolific author and regular contributor to The Times, The Sunday Times, The Guardian and the Daily Mail)
  • Eric Robson (broadcaster and Chairman of Cumbria Tourism, The Wainwright Society and Gardeners’ Question Time)
  • Fiona Armstrong (ITV and BBC newscaster, author, journalist and Lord Lieutenant of Dumfries).

All six prizes will be presented at a charity awards event at the Castle Green Hotel, Kendal on 16th July 2019. Attended by authors, publishers and book lovers from throughout Cumbria and beyond, this annual event has raised thousands for well deserving local charities.

Award Categories:

  • The Zeffirellis Prize for People and Business
  • The Striding Edge Prize for Guides and Places
  • The Bill Rollinson Prize for Landscape and Tradition
  • The Latitude Press Prize for Illustration and Presentation
  • The Bookends Prize for Art and Literature
  • The Hunter Davies Lakeland Book of the Year 2019


Judge Eric Robson says “The Lakeland Book of the Year Awards – now in their 35th year and still going strong – are one of the most prestigious awards in the country and I am proud to be a long-term supporter. Cumbria and the Lake District are home to some of the most inspiring landscapes in the world and every year I am blown away by the staggering range and quality of entries we receive – it’s a delight and a privilege to read every single one of them”.

The awards were founded by Hunter Davies and Cumbria Tourism (CT) and are managed by organisers Chris Tomlinson OBE, Affra Hartree and Vicky Robinson MBE, with support from CT. Last year’s winner was “Picture of Cumbria” by Phil Rigby.

The deadline for submissions is the 22nd March 2019. Entry forms are available at www.lakelandbookoftheyear.co.uk or from Cumbria Tourism (01539 822 222).

The results of an important countywide survey to discover the most up-to-date habits of the visitors who drive Cumbria’s £2.9 billion tourism industry are out.

Conducted once every three years, the Cumbria Visitor Survey is a vital part of Cumbria Tourism’s research work and is the only in-depth source of county-wide information on our visitors – revealing where they come from, who they are with, why they come and what they do while they are here. Crucially, they also disclose valuable information about trends and changes in visitor behaviour.

Carried out in conjunction with the majority of Cumbria Tourism’s local authority partners, the Lake District National Park Authority and the Local Enterprise Partnership, the survey involved the completion of 1,400 in-depth, face-to-face questionnaires over a four month period. A wide variety of questions ranged from how much they spend to what influenced their choice of accommodation and how they preferred to book their trips to the county.

As part of Cumbria Tourism’s aim to spread tourism countywide, a new question was introduced to see if people were visiting new places. Three in ten (29%) said they had only visited new places during their visit and 47% were visiting a mixture of old and new places.

Other key findings from the latest research include:

  • 18% of visitors were in Cumbria for the first time.
  • A third (32%) travelled from within the North West region. More than half of all those visiting for the day (56%) were from the North West and almost a quarter (23%) of those staying overnight were North West -based.
  • Pleasingly, visits from the South East increased from 7% in 2015 to 11% in 2018. 17% of first time visitors were also from the South East, up from 8% in 2015.
  • More than 2 in 5 overseas visitors were either from the USA (24%) or Australia (19%)
  • Overseas visitors spent an average of £810.76 per party per trip, compared to UK visitors who spend £659.15 per party per trip
  • 10% of visitors used Cumbria Tourism’s GoLakes website to find out about visiting Cumbria
  • 15% of visitors had a dog or dogs with them
  • 94% of all visitors said they felt either very much or ‘quite a lot’ better mentally while visiting the Lake District, Cumbria
  • 96% of visitors rated their trip as good or very good.


Cumbria Tourism’s Managing Director, Gill Haigh, says, “Cumbria is an area where the visitor economy has particular significance to the local economy and communities. Now with two UNESCO World Heritage Sites we have a game changer for the county as a whole and our ambition is to sustainably grow the value of tourism with specific focus on converting day visitors to staying visitors and delivering the ‘attract and disperse principle’. We also want to grow the visitor economy outside of the summer months, and to increase international visitor stay and spend.”

“Our role as the Destination Management Organisation for the county means we are in a unique position of working across local authority boundaries with our partners, to ensure we get the fullest, most accurate picture of visitor behaviour.

The Cumbria Visitor Survey is a key piece of research to assess how the county is performing against these objectives, as well as to identify long-term trends and ensure we and our member businesses focus resources in the right place at the right time.

It’s vital that Cumbria Tourism’s marketing, strategy and lobbying work continue to be truly insight-led and visitor-focused. This research gives us current, reliable evidence direct from visitors and enables us to make informed decisions about a wide range of activities and themes.

For example, targeting the most relevant international markets and developing high-quality content around topical issues like health and wellbeing which genuinely resonates with the people we want to attract.”

Cumbria Tourism takes the lead on the Cumbria Visitor Survey with support from seven local authority partners. That includes Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, The Lake District National Park Authority, Allerdale Borough Council, Carlisle City Council, Copeland Borough Council, Eden District Council and South Lakeland District Council.

The full detailed report is available at a reduced price of £50 for Cumbria Tourism members HERE (or £150 for non-members).

The Lake District’s success in securing World Heritage Site status continues to attract international attention from writers and bloggers – most recently in the form of two highly respected influencers and photographers from Australia.

VisitBritain approached Cumbria Tourism to arrange a Western Lake District landscape-focussed itinerary for Jason Hill and Emilie Ristevski, who between them have an online audience of almost 1.7 million followers. “Shares” and “likes” of their posts resulted in a further boost of 1.2 million, bringing total reach and engagements to just under 2.9 million people.

Together, Jason and Emilie explored the Lake District over five days, staying overnight in Cockermouth, Keswick and Ambleside. Thanks to the support of our member businesses who recognised the value in such trips, providing the pair with accommodation enabled this massive social media reach for Cumbria to be achieved worldwide.

The trip was documented purely on Instagram, both during and after the visit, with several posts also gaining further exposure after being re-posted by VisitBritain on its Twitter channel – which boasts a further 385,000 followers.

Emilie’s blend of travel and lifestyle photography means she enjoys an audience of predominantly female followers (68%) aged 25-34, based in the US & Australia. Jason’s pictures transport the viewer into his moments of tranquillity, with an even split of men and woman in the same age-range and locations.

In the two months following their Lake District visit, Emilie and Jason have together attracted a further 156,000 followers to their Instagram accounts, firmly establishing social media as a real force to be reckoned with as an opportunity for great destination PR.

Cumbria Tourism is forging increasingly stronger links with The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in the run-up to Brexit.

The two organisations are pledging to work closer together over the coming months to support businesses who are striving to meet the key business challenges of 2019, including the uncertainty around the UK’s imminent departure from the European Union.

The working partnership between Cumbria Tourism and the FSB Lancashire & Cumbria Area aims to help further strengthen a co-ordinated approach to business support, events and topical issues affecting businesses on a day-to-day level.

That includes giving Cumbria Tourism member businesses full access to the FSB’s Brexit Guide, to help them better understand the different scenarios they may encounter and to help plan their business continuity during – and after – the withdrawal process.

A new reciprocal arrangement also means Cumbria Tourism members can benefit from a discount on FSB membership, and vice versa.

Gill Haigh says, “Small businesses are the lifeblood of Cumbria’s £2.9billion tourism sector and it is vital that we build meaningful relationships with similar organisations to ourselves who understand the commitment, innovation and sheer hard work it takes for small businesses to succeed.

With the full implications of Brexit due to unfold over the next few months, it’s more important than ever for us to identify areas of synergy and to work together to provide the best possible support for the county’s business community.”

Suzanne Edgley, Area Leader for Cumbria at FSB says, “A co-ordinated approach to assisting our small businesses across Cumbria makes perfect sense and we are delighted to be working with Cumbria Tourism to support all our members to access the very best support they can to protect and boost their businesses. 

 “With the uncertainty our economy faces in the coming months and beyond it is important that businesses do get the range of support which can really help them to get through any difficult periods and progress into the future.”

Cumbria Tourism’s latest tourism business survey highlights uncertainty about labour shortages, skills, travel disruption and Brexit, BUT reveals optimism about new opportunities to grow tourism in the county.

As Cumbria’s official Destination Management Organisation, we have been carrying out regular surveys with tourism businesses every six months for more than 20 years.  This research provides a county-wide opportunity to monitor long-term trends and business performance, and analyse factors affecting business in a positive or negative way.  It then helps us to highlight the most significant concerns and challenges with both national and regional policy-makers.

This Autumn, for the first time, Cumbria Tourism’s Business Performance Survey has been carried out in conjunction with one of the North West’s leading firms of accountants, tax and business advisors, Lamont Pridmore.

The results cover this year’s main visitor season – the six-month period from March to September 2018 – as well as looking ahead into 2019. Alongside Brexit, they reveal that travel disruption and staffing were major issues of concern:

  • 40% report that disruption on the railways was damaging for the region.
  • 64% of businesses say they have a problem recruiting staff and almost half also report problems with retaining staff.

Other key findings include:

  • 76% of businesses reported returning customers as a positive factor over the past six months.
  • 73% of tourism businesses will either exceed or match their performance from 2017. However, this is 16% lower than the previous year.
  • 44% reported staycations as a big driver for growth.
  • 58% of businesses think that plans to open up flights from Carlisle Lake District Airport will have a positive effect on tourism
  • Cumbria’s most important overseas markets are: the USA, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands and China.
  • 60% of businesses think Cumbria’s status as a World Heritage Site will have a positive effect.

The survey comes hot on the heels of new government plans to enter into an official negotiation with the tourism industry nationally for a ‘Tourism Sector Deal’, aimed at increasing productivity.  Cumbria Tourism has been lobbying for an official deal for some time and last week hosted VisitBritain colleagues to explore how this could work for Cumbria. The results of the Business Performance Survey will now also enable Cumbria Tourism – along with its partners – to keep the county at the forefront of high-profile discussions as details of the Tourism Sector Deal’ are finalised in 2019.

Gill Haigh, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism says, “This latest research demonstrates that 2018 has been a challenging year for the tourism industry. The significant rail disruption combined with the extreme weather – including the so-called ‘Beast from the East’ followed by the exceedingly hot weather in May and June – have taken their toll, and there is certainly evidence of visitors tightening their spending. At the same time, there have been increased costs for businesses.

 “The survey results also illustrate the significance of staffing and recruitment challenges and increasing concerns regarding the impact of Brexit. This is not completely unexpected, but shows that the visitor economy needs continued support to keep growing in value. The survey results give us the evidence base we need as an organisation to keep up the pressure on funding, support and future strategy at the highest levels and to focus our resources on the issues that matter most.”

Chief Executive of Lamont Pridmore, Graham Lamont, says, “This research is invaluable to ensure Cumbria Tourism can take an evidenced based approach to effecting change for the tourism industry at a national level, as well as developing their own activities to continue the growth of the visitor economy. Understandably, Brexit is causing concern and uncertainty among businesses but they too can use these research findings to inform their own decision making and future plans.  Lamont Pridmore is delighted to support the Business Performance Survey.”

Our comprehensive research function is one of our key activities which setss us apart as a Destination Management Organisation. As well as the Business Performance Survey, other regular analysis carried out by our research team includes monthly occupancy surveys, county-wide visitor surveys, regular analysis of accommodation stock and data collection from visitor attractions.

For more information on our research programme, contact Research Manager, Helen Tate: htate@cumbriatourism.org

We welcome new government plans to enter into an official negotiation with the tourism industry for a ‘Tourism Sector Deal’, aimed at increasing productivity and driving economic growth.

Described as a game-changer, the plans would officially recognise tourism as a globally competitive ‘industry of the future’ and put it at the top of the Government’s national policy agenda.

In Cumbria, tourism supports almost 65,000 jobs and is worth £2.9 billion to the local economy. As the county’s official Destination Management Organisation (DMO), we’ve been been lobbying vigorously for an official deal to tackle a range of key issues specifically affecting our visitor economy, including: skills and labour supply, travel and transport, housing and digital connectivity.

In recent months, this activity has seen Cumbria Tourism liaising closely with high-level influencers at VisitBritain and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, as well as speaking directly to the Tourism Minister Michael Ellis and raising the issues to a House of Lords Select Committee earlier this month.

It is expected that the negotiations just announced by the Government will lead to a final Tourism Sector Deal being announced early next year.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “This is the Government saying they are taking tourism seriously. It is a hugely positive statement of intent and it is now tremendously important that the Tourism Sector Deal moves forward. As the Destination Management Organisation for the Lake District, Cumbria, we will ensure the county is kept at the forefront of discussions in the coming weeks and months, and do all we can to support VisitEngland and VisitBritain to secure this opportunity.

“The Sector Deal focus is about increasing productivity.  This chimes perfectly with Cumbria’s Tourism’s existing strategy to grow the value of tourism through higher-spending international and domestic visitors and to continue marketing the county as an all year round destination, as well as boosting skills and supporting long term careers in hospitality, which are critical for us as a county.”

She adds, “It is essential that we work together as a county – spanning both the private and public sectors – to ensure that we seize this landmark moment.”

A major survey is being launched across The Lake District to gauge opinion on a charitable donation scheme using contactless debit and credit card machines, in addition to the more traditional coin-slot collection boxes.

Along with its partners the Lake District National Park (LDNP) and Cumbria Tourism, the Lake District Foundation (LDF) is asking for views on whether such a system would be beneficial to its fundraising efforts.

The LDF raises money through donations before distributing to projects which care for local landscapes.

The idea is part of the ‘Rethinking Parks’ programme by NESTA, a global innovation foundation which supports new ideas to tackle 21st century challenges.

Sarah Swindley, Director of the LDF, says, “It’s really important that we hear from as many people as possible. We know that people love the Lake District and want to help us look after it. We also know that people are carrying less cash with them and we are keen to understand how new technology can help.”

The proposal is to help people who wish to donate money for local projects to do so – under no pressure; and even if they don’t have any coins on them.

The survey will also ask about people’s donor habits, the kind of projects they’d like to donate to and the kind of messages participants think should feature on the donation points themselves to maximise their intended effect.

Following the survey, the LDF hopes a test scheme may begin in the summer – hopes echoed by the Lake District National Park.

Liam McAleese, Head of Strategy and Partnerships for the LDNP, says, “We welcome the idea of helping our visitors donate more easily towards the National Park. New technology, such as contactless donations, will bring an exciting new option for the millions of people who enjoy the Lake District every year to put something back and help us keep this place special.”

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “Together with the Lake District Foundation and Lake District National Park, we’re really excited to be part of this project exploring new fundraising territory by looking at how technology can make donating to worthy causes as simple as possible.

“When asking our visitors to part with their money, we understand the process needs to be quick, simple and convenient. We welcome all views on how best to embrace this technology and all our findings will be used in helping to form the next stage of how funds can be raised efficiently and securely, while respecting the locations of where this technology may be positioned.”

The survey was sent out to subscribers to Cumbria Tourism’s mailing lists in mid-November and is also available online here.

You can find out more here.