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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


The 2021 winners are:

The Zefirellis Prize for People & Business

Hungry, Grace Dent


The Bill Rollinson Prize for Landscapes and Traditions

Swimming Wild in the Lake District, Suzanna Cruickshank


The Striding Edge Prize for Guides and Places

English Pastoral: An Inheritance, James Rebanks


The Latitude Press Prize for Illustration and Presentation

Terry Abraham: Life On The Mountains, Terry Abraham


The Bookends Prize for Literature & Poetry

Radical Wordsworth, Jonathan Bate


The Gilpin Hotel and Lake Prize for Fiction

Dead Ringer, Nicola Martin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 See all five stages of the CCR 200 HERE.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Global outdoor brand inov-8 is teaming up with Cumbria Tourism to help drive forward the county’s vibrant and sustainable visitor economy.

inov-8 is the latest high-profile business to back Cumbria’s official Destination Management Organisation by signing up as an official ‘Strategic Partner’.

It’s a move which sees inov-8 join a core network of like-minded organisations who draw on their collective expertise to champion effective destination marketing to support businesses, visitors and local communities.

With its international HQ in the Lake District, inov-8 employs around 25 people in Cumbria and is best known as a footwear, clothing and equipment brand for trail runners, hikers and adventure seekers, as well as gym enthusiasts. It sells products to around 60 countries globally and is the world’s first brand to use the ‘wonder material’ graphene in sports shoes.

The company also puts sustainability at the forefront of its business, working closely with the likes of the Cumbria Wildlife Trust on their carbon reduction projects, as well as supporting local food banks and redistributing shoe samples to charity.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “It is fantastic to be working with inov-8, a truly innovative and forward-looking organisation which is just as passionate about the Lake District and Cumbria as we are!

“They love the outdoors and want other people to enjoy it too, especially in the challenging times everyone has been going through. Most importantly, they also want to do their bit in keeping this amazing place special for the future.

 “Like us, inov-8 want to inspire people to get out there and make the most of our world-class landscape. Among the areas we’ll be looking at together is encouraging people to be fully prepared for adventures in the outdoors, with the right gear for the conditions they might meet.”

inov-8 COO Michael Price comments, “We are delighted to be teaming up with Cumbria Tourism, in the county of our roots.

“inov-8 was forged in the Lake District fells 18 years ago, and to celebrate we this year opened our first-ever brand store in Staveley’s Mill Yard. ‘The Forge’ is run in partnership with Pete Bland Sports and has been a huge success, allowing even more visitors to the Lake District the chance to experience the world’s toughest grip with graphene.”

The news comes hot on heels of another announcement earlier this week, confirming that Cumbria Community Foundation will also now become one of Cumbria Tourism’s 18 official Strategic Partners.


Cumbria Tourism has heralded a large-scale Jobs Fair highlighting potential new roles in tourism and hospitality as a massive success, after attracting more than 170 job seekers and generating new applications for a range of current vacancies across the industry.

To coincide with the end of the Government’s furlough scheme, the event brought together 25 of the county’s top tourism employers – together with job coaches and training providers – at The Forum in Barrow yesterday.

The event was arranged by Cumbria Tourism and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), alongside partners from Local IQ, Job Centre Plus and Inspira.

It enabled Cumbrian jobseekers to speak directly to hospitality businesses and put themselves forward for current and upcoming vacancies with employers including Linthwaite House Hotel, The Swan Hotel, Windermere Lake Cruises, South Lakes Safari Zoo and High Spirits Group to name just a few.

Within 24 hours of the Job Fair, it has already led to a series of job applications and interviews for attendees and there are now plans in the pipeline to replicate the event’s success in early 2022.

The event was part of Cumbria Tourism’s #theperfectplacetowork recruitment campaign to raise the profile and reputation of job roles within the tourism and hospitality industry.

Cumbria Tourism’s Head of Partnerships & Projects, Rachel Tyson, says, “It was fantastic to see so many engaged job seekers attending the event, as part of our ongoing campaign to support the industry through the current recruitment crisis by highlighting the long-term career and training opportunities available within the visitor economy.

“Many businesses have already invited potential workers to interview and from the conversations I expect many to be taking the next step in their career very soon!

 “We’re already looking ahead to organising another event but, in the meantime, anyone looking for a new role can learn more and apply on our visitor-facing website at:”.

Cumbria Community Foundation has become the first charity to be named as one of Cumbria Tourism’s official ‘Strategic Partners’.

As one of the UK’s most prominent Destination Management Organisations (DMOs), Cumbria Tourism’s core network of Strategic Partners draw together collective expertise from across the county to champion effective destination marketing to support businesses, visitors and local communities.

Cumbria Community Foundation is a leading, accredited community foundation and provides philanthropic services to individuals, families and organisations – managing more than 100 grant making funds and awarding an average of around £3 million a year.

This new Strategic Partnership between the two organisations reflects the importance of the visitor economy to local people, supporting jobs and prosperity for the county as a whole.

It also means that 10% of the proceeds generated by Cumbria Tourism’s MyCumbria residents’ cards will now be donated directly to Cumbria Community Foundation, to support local good causes.

Jacqui Currie, Head of Development, said: “Cumbria Community Foundation is delighted to have become a strategic partner of Cumbria Tourism. Our organisations share common values as we work to build a bright, sustainable future for Cumbria’s communities. With one in four people in the county depending on visitor spending for their livelihood, tourism is embedded in our communities and our economy.

 “Many tourism businesses already work with the Foundation by becoming members and fundholders, the proceeds of which the Foundation gives out in grants to community groups that help vulnerable people in our county. Through our Strategic Partnership with Cumbria Tourism, we will be encouraging new supporters in the tourism sector to help us to address disadvantage in our county.”

Jim Walker, Chairman of Cumbria Tourism, adds, “The visitor economy is integral to our local communities and Cumbria Community Foundation is an outstanding example of an organisation giving back to the place where we live and work. It’s fitting that they become the first charity to be named as an official Strategic Partner and we look forward to working hand-in-hand with them over the coming year.”

Cumbria Community Foundation joins a core network of Strategic Partners, who are all highly respected and regarded across the county. The list includes:

  • United Utilities (Cumbria Tourism patron)
  • Burnetts
  • The Cumberland
  • Forestry England
  • Grasmere Gingerbread
  • Highways England
  • Lake District Estates
  • Lake District National Park
  • Lamont Pridmore
  • NFU Mutual
  • Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire
  • Thomson Hayton Winkley
  • University of Cumbria
  • Windermere Lake Cruises

Just ahead of furlough coming to an end next week, 25 of Cumbria’s leading tourism and hospitality businesses will come together on Wednesday 29 September for a large-scale jobs fair to match jobseekers with potential new roles.

Among some of the county’s top employers involved in the event are Lakeside Hotel & Spa, multi- Michelin-starred Simon Rogan, The National Trust, Windermere Lake Cruises, Hargreaves Enterprises, the Inn Collection and Center Parcs to name just a few.

As well as offering opportunities to anyone who finds themselves facing redundancy after long-term furlough, they will be promoting a wide range of full-time and part-time roles suitable for people looking to return to work after a career break or simply eager to climb the career ladder in the county’s vibrant visitor economy. There will also be fresh roles for school and college leavers to consider.

The Jobs Fair at The Forum in Barrow-in-Furness has been arranged by Cumbria Tourism and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), alongside partners from Local IQ, Job Centre Plus and Inspira.

Job coaches and training providers will also be on hand to help match job seekers with the best roles to suit them, and there will be an informal networking area where people can talk one-to-one about the job vacancies on offer on the day.

The event is part of Cumbria Tourism’s #theperfectplacetowork recruitment campaign which is helping to reshape perceptions about what it means to work in the tourism industry.

Cumbria Tourism’s Head of Partnerships & Projects, Rachel Tyson, says, “With the end of furlough looming, we know some people may need some extra guidance and support about their future career path, so this jobs fair is a great opportunity to get expert advice and speak to potential employers direct.

There will be plenty of opportunities for applicants to put themselves forward for specific jobs on the day, so it’s something job seekers really can’t afford to miss.”

Meanwhile, Operations Manager at The Inn Collection Group, Dan Evans, says: “People often associate hospitality with long hours and poor rates of pay, but we’re keen to advocate hospitality as a great career choice and one that can be as flexible and individual as you with amazing progression opportunities and lots of friends and family perks and bonuses, too!

“As well as full and part time roles, we have some brilliant opportunities for apprentices and access to our award-winning training programmes.”

Jobseekers can sign up for the Jobs Fair in advance at: