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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

The key asks include:

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

 

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

Could you be the next William Wordsworth? Or do you fancy yourself as a budding Beatrix Potter?  Amateur and professional writers alike are in line for widespread recognition with the launch of the 2022 Lakeland Book of the Year Awards.

Entries are now open for the prestigious competition, which can include any book published in 2021 set in – or featuring – Cumbria.

Founded by Hunter Davies OBE almost four decades ago – supported by Cumbria Tourism and main sponsors James Cropper – the Lakeland Book of the Year are now in their 38th year and celebrate the amazing variety and quantity of writing that the Lake District, Cumbria inspires.

The finalists are whittled down from around 70 books each year across six main categories, with the overall winner receiving the ultimate accolade of Lakeland Book of the Year 2022:

  • 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 Gilpin Hotel & Lake House Prize for Fiction

 

  • OVERALL WINNER: The Hunter Davies Lakeland Book of the Year 2022

 

The 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 a range of national press outlets)
  • Eric Robson OBE DL (broadcaster, President of Cumbria Tourism, Chairman of The Wainwright Society)
  • Fiona Armstrong (ITV and BBC newscaster, author, journalist and Lord Lieutenant of Dumfries).

 

All seven prizes will be presented at a charity awards event on 12 July 2022. Attended by authors, publishers and book lovers from throughout Cumbria and beyond, this annual ceremony has previously raised thousands for well deserving local charities including The Stroke Association, St. Mary’s Hospice & Save the Children.

Judge Eric Robson OBE DL says “The Lakeland Book of the Year Awards – now in their 38th year and still thriving – are one of the most distinguished 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 scenery in the world and each year I am blown away by the staggering range and quality of entries we receive – it’s an honour and a privilege to read every single one of them”.

The deadline for submissions is 28 February 2022.  

 

Entry forms are easy to download at: www.lakelandbookoftheyear.co.uk  Or for more information about the event, contact Ben Melling at Cumbria Tourism on 01539 822 222.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are still a limited number of exhibition stands available. Contact sarah@lakeshospitalitytradeshow.co.uk for more information.

03/12/21

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

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

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

It focused on ‘attract and disperse’ activity to expand awareness of destinations including the Cumbrian coastline, Carlisle and Hadrian’s Wall country, and the east of the county, where Cumbria meets the North Pennines and the Yorkshire Dales.

Cumbria Tourism’s Marketing Manager, Sue Clarke, says, “We are thrilled by this result!  #ThePerfectPlaceToBe summer campaign was all about encouraging potential visitors to explore further, spreading them more evenly across the country this summer and helping increase economic benefits for traditionally less-visited parts of Cumbria.

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

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

26th November 2021

Funding to help Cumbrian businesses and community groups go green in a post-pandemic world will be unveiled tomorrow Thursday 23 September, to coincide with Climate Action Day.

 The Low Carbon Lake District initiative is opening round 2 of its Grants Scheme to help organisations introduce measures that reduce carbon emissions.  It’s a chance for both businesses and community groups to be awarded up to 60% of project costs, making the move to low carbon technologies and practices more affordable.

 The Low Carbon Lake District Grants Scheme is open to a range of industry sectors, including hospitality, manufacturing, retail and transport. It is being led by the Lake District Foundation as part of Low Carbon Lake District, with support from the European Structural Investment Fund (ESIF) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Examples of projects that may be funded include:

  • Low carbon energy use and generation, such as solar photo voltaic, solar thermal, biomass, anaerobic digestion, small hydro power, ground and air source heat pumps.
  • Energy efficiency projects, including variable speed drives, voltage optimisation, infrared heating, LED lighting and upgrading to efficient appliances.

Examples of organisations already supported through round one of the scheme earlier this year include Levens Village Shop, which was awarded a grant to install an energy efficient refrigeration system. Meanwhile, Rookhow Quaker Meeting House in the Rusland Valley was awarded a grant to install an air source heat pump and loft insulation to improve the comfort levels in the building while reducing the carbon footprint.

Development Manager at Rookhow, Sue Nicholls, says, “There is a real – and vital – focus on sustainability right now and lots of expertise out there for organisations like ours in Cumbria, so I would strongly urge others to investigate the funding currently available through the Low Carbon Lake District Grants Scheme.

 “The support we have received is helping to create a ‘living space’ for future generations and has come at just the right time for us. These changes will help preserve this historic building and make it much more usable and comfortable for a range of community groups.”

Sarah Swindley, CEO of the Lake District Foundation, adds: “We are very excited to launch round two of this grants scheme, supporting Lake District businesses to take steps towards net zero. It’s fantastic news that there’s been such a great take up with these grants already and we are delighted to be able to support local organisations to deliver low carbon projects. The Grants Scheme can support SMEs and community groups across a wide range of sectors and we look forward to assessing the next round of projects.”

The Lake District National Park Authority’s Low Carbon Lake District Coordinator, Danny Coward, comments: “It is so important that we all play our role in helping to contribute positively to tackle climate change. The ESIF grant scheme is a fantastic opportunity to help businesses and community groups make the right choice, helping create a pathway to a cleaner and greener, net zero future.”

Registrations for the Low Carbon Lake District Grants Scheme will be open HERE from 9am on Thursday 23 September until 5pm on Thursday 14 October.

The Low Carbon Lake District team will be on hand at the ‘Ambleside to Zero’ event on 23 September to answer any questions about the scheme.

Organisations can also sign up to a free webinar HERE the following Thursday, 30 September, where a member of the LDF team will explain more about the fund and how to apply, presentations from previous grant recipients and a grant scheme Q&A.

All applicants will be assessed by the Lake District Foundation at the initial concept stage to check they are eligible to take part.  Projects requiring design or feasibility support are not eligible for funding support, but Low Carbon Lake District may be able to identify alternative funding or support for these earlier stage environmental projects.

 

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

The Low Carbon Lake District initiative is a comprehensive programme to help tackle climate change in the National Park, working in partnership with local businesses and communities to reduce greenhouse gases and prepare for the impacts of climate change. Led by the Lake District National Park Authority, other key partners include the Lake District Foundation, the National Trust, South Lakeland District Council and Cumbria Tourism.

Low Carbon Lake District has received funding from the England European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Department for Work and Pensions (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) are the Managing Authorities for European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund funding through the Growth Programme, funds established by the European Union to help local areas stimulate their economic development. By investing in projects the funds will help to support innovation, businesses, skills and employment to improve local growth and create jobs. For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/europeangrowth-funding.

The Northern Powerhouse is a key aspect of this Government’s approach to addressing the productivity gap in the North and ensuring a stronger, more sustainable economy for all parts of the UK. Alongside over €1.5 billion of European Regional Development Fund support for businesses and communities across the North, the government has awarded £3.4 billion in three rounds of Growth Deals across the Northern Powerhouse.

As international travel restrictions continue to ease, the Cumbria Tourism team is out and about at key trade shows across the UK to showcase the whole of county to influential tour operators and travel trade planning future, COVID-safe, visits.

Key staff from the county’s official Destination Management Organisation (DMO) are this week attending the British Tourism and Travel Show (BBTS) on 22 and 23 September, ahead of the Group Leisure & Travel Show in Milton Keynes on 7 October.

Working in partnership with Northern Print Distribution (NPD), these two events follow on from a successful Cumbria Tourism appearance at the UKinbound Annual Convention just last week.

The events are a key part of Cumbria Tourism’s #theperfectplacetobe COVID-19 recovery marketing campaign, building on the momentum for summer staycations across the traditionally quieter winter months.

The British Tourism and Travel Show is the first major domestic tourism show to take place in more than 18 months. Meanwhile, the Group Travel and Leisure Show is widely seen as a ‘must-visit event to help the group travel and coach tourism market shape their schedules for the coming year.

Branded as ‘Visit Lake District, Cumbria’, the Cumbria Tourism team will be working alongside local tourism businesses to highlight exciting new products, as well as inspiring the county’s cultural heritage and stunning landscapes including its two UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

“After a year like no other it’s been fantastic to meet and engage with the public at events this summer, including the Great Yorkshire, Royal Lancashire and Westmorland Shows” says Sue Clarke, Cumbria Tourism’s Marketing Manager.

“Despite reports of a busy summer, 44% of those surveyed by Cumbria Tourism have reported that bookings are still down overall this year, with staffing issues, social distancing challenges and the spring lockdown all impacting on trade. As we look towards the shoulder season and into the New Year it’s clear that Cumbria’s visitor economy still needs help to support businesses and jobs as we rebuild confidence in group bookings and recover together.

“Now, with restrictions continuing to gradually ease, it’s important we revitalise our relationships with international and group travel trade operators as they look ahead to 2022 and beyond. Cumbria truly is a world-class destination, with something to offer almost every visitor, and we will be making the most of these opportunities to ensure our county is firmly on the map!

“Meeting and networking with key travel trade decision makers can make a real difference to the landscape of group travel, and the Cumbria Tourism team will be there to help shape it.”

With tourism and hospitality businesses struggling to accommodate bookings due to mandatory self-isolation of staff, Cumbria’s official Destination Management Organisation (DMO) is calling for the Government to allow workers with negative COVID-19 test results to continue to work.

Alongside a severe ongoing recruitment crisis, with businesses operating at approximately 20% below their employment needs, the so-called ‘pingdemic’ is often causing staff bubbles to self-isolate at extreme short notice, often leading to postponements, cancellations and even temporary closures.

 “Now should be a time for celebration” says Jim Walker, Cumbria Tourism Chair. “It’s a glorious summer, the industry is permitted to open and visitors are desperate to enjoy our world-class hospitality. Instead, businesses have a constant fear of having to deal with a sudden staff shortage and the knock-on effects to productivity, customer satisfaction, reputation and morale.

 “As an industry we have worked hard to put the safety of staff, visitors and communities first through a wide range of Covid-secure practices, yet a single ping can take us back to square one. That’s why we’re calling on the Government to allow the industry to bring back double vaccinated workers following a negative test, and potentially single vaccinated workers following two negative results.”

This request is the latest in a comprehensive campaign lead by the DMO. Cumbria Tourism is working closely with industry leaders and Government representatives to help the industry recover, including a recent productive meeting with all five of the county’s Conservative MPs.

A lack of overseas staff due to international travel restrictions and recent immigration changes has also led to the DMO calling for a seasonal worker scheme and creation of a short-term working visa initiative to help the industry recover to a post Brexit world.

With chef positions in particular demand Cumbria Tourism is also campaigning to recognise the profession as a shortage skilled occupation for immigration purposes.

“It’s ridiculous, and quite frankly insulting, to classify chefs and other hospitality workers as unskilled” continues Jim. “Cumbria is home to seven Michelin-starred restaurants, plus TripAdvisor’s 2021 Travellers’ Choice top restaurant in the world and that’s down to the dedication, skill and passion of our chefs, many of whom came here from abroad.”

Cumbria Tourism has been working hard to lessen the impact of the staffing crisis through a range of initiatives, including a targeted recruitment campaign highlighting Cumbria as the perfect place to live, work and play. The DMO is also working with transport providers to evaluate existing infrastructure and better connect staff with workplaces, but the underlying cause can only be addressed by decisive Government action.

“This is a national crisis, but one which is disproportionally affecting rural visitor economies” concludes Jim Walker. “We’re sticking to our pledge to support the industry, and businesses are bending over backwards to do their part – now it’s time for the Government to respond accordingly.”

Following yesterday’s (10th May) announcement by the Prime Minister that indoor hospitality and serviced overnight stays can resume from the 17th May, the county’s visitor economy is looking forward to being able to once again offer a world-class welcome to its customers.

From Stage three of the Government’s reopening roadmap:

  • Groups of up to 30 can meet outdoors.
  • 6 people (or 2 households) can meet indoors.
  • Serviced accommodation (hotels and B&Bs) can offer overnight stays.
  • Pubs and restaurants can offer indoor dining.
  • Museums, theatres, cinemas and more can reopen.
  • Up to 30 can attend weddings.

Cumbria Tourism Managing Director Gill Haigh says “it’s been a long process, and safety remains the top priority, but this week’s announcement brings us one step closer to normality. Tourism businesses across Cumbria have consistently gone above and beyond to safeguard their customers, staff and communities and now they’re ready to get back to doing what they do best and what they love – providing fantastic memorable experiences for their guests.

“It’s been lovely to see our visitors begin to return, staying in self-catering accommodation from April and enjoying our fantastic food and drink outside, but businesses need to operate at a much higher capacity to survive. This week’s news provides much-needed clarity, not only for businesses but for many visitors who have been waiting to book their post-lockdown stay and we are expecting to see consumer confidence increase following Monday’s announcement.

“This reopening will also see many of those who have been furloughed able to return to work and will also see a wide variety of job opportunities for our communities. Businesses can post their vacancies and those looking for a new challenge can learn more and apply at www.cumbriatourism.org/jobs”.

 

11th May 2021