As businesses prepare for a busy summer season, Cumbria’s official destination management organisation (DMO) is working to showcase the opportunities available within the industry.

Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic and the county’s super-aging population have led to a perfect storm, with many businesses now looking to recruit from a shrinking pool of applicants. However, the industry is offering amazing opportunities for employees of all ages and backgrounds, and Cumbria Tourism is showcasing these through case study interviews with workers from across the county.

For those looking to start a career, a summer job offers the chance to develop new skills alongside earning money and making new friends. Joseph Varden is currently working at the Newby Bridge Hotel on everything from hot tub maintenance to gardening to housekeeping after completing his GCSE year.

“It’s hard work but it’s worth it. It’s very important for people my age I think to be making money because it means you have a bit more freedom when it comes to stuff like wanting to buy a car. It’s helped me boost confidence from meeting new people and also to make new friends with lots of other people of different ages.”

Hospitality is a truly meritocratic career path, evidenced by Joseph’s colleague Amylea Wilson who, at the age of just 23 has already risen to the position of Duty Manager. Alongside on the job experience, Amylea’s employer has invested in her training, supporting her through her first year of college and allowing her to study for a degree with the University of Cumbria whilst working.

“Employers really do value their staff” says Gill Haigh, Cumbria Tourism Managing Director, which is leading on the countywide campaign. “They’re prepared to support them to receive the training they need to provide the best possible service for our visitors, We work very closely with the University of Cumbria who are currently offering fantastic scholarship opportunities for their Tourism Management MBA – and with the university recently ranked the fifth best in the country for producing CEOs and MDs there are real opportunities for advancement”.

Cumbria’s tourism industry isn’t just investing in its youth, the sector also welcomes staff looking to relocate from outside the county. Leigha Dixon is Assistant Manager at BAHA in Bowness and originally from Preston.

“I’ve been in hospitality since I was 18 and decided to come to the Lake District to broaden my horizons within the industry – I’ve been here just over two years and I’ve not looked back.

 “A lot of venues offer staff accommodation so that was a really big help to start with. It really helped me socialise with people, meet people especially people our age. I lived there for about four months and then looked for my own place and have been in a shared house now for just over two years.

 “The work-life balance is really good – I do my contracted hours and I still have time for myself or to see family or exercise up the fells. In the Lake District it’s a lot more chilled, it’s not as rushed. I feel that when you’re walking down the streets people are a lot happier.”

“Joseph, Amylea and Leigha are just three examples of the huge variety of opportunities available” continues Gill Haigh. “Whether you’re looking to take that first step on the career path, develop your skills through experience and qualifications, or relocate for greater opportunities and a better work-life balance Cumbria is the perfect place to live, work and play.

“These inspiring case studies are just a part of our wider recruitment campaign, designed to showcase not only the vacancies available but also the benefits of living and working within some of the most beautiful landscapes in the county.”

Video interviews with Joseph, Amylea and Leigha, alongside others, are available to watch at

Those looking for their next challenge can browse available vacancies at



Cumbria is blazing a trial with the launch of a new, interactive ‘Experience Adventure Guide’

that’s thought to be the first of its kind for a UK visitor destination.

Cumbria Tourism has teamed up with Carlisle-based Event Guides Ltd to create the film-led digital guide as part of ‘The Perfect Place To Be’ Recovery Marketing Campaign.

Cumbria’s Experience Adventure Guide aims to give people of all ages and abilities the inspiration they need to try new activities across the county, with everything from family adventure and things to do to on the water to more ambitious, adrenaline-packed challenges which appeal to younger visitors looking for adventures off-the-beaten-track. There is also a series of QR code posters for businesses to download and use that links through to the guide.

Carlisle-based Event Guides Ltd is best known for providing specialist publishing services to both UK and international organisers of business-to-business exhibitions such as the global travel industry’s largest trade event, World Travel Market.

With the events industry devastated over the past 15 months, it has been lending its services and expertise to Cumbria Tourism as tourism businesses start to emerge from the impact of the pandemic. The collaboration has also enabled Cumbria Tourism members to list their businesses free of charge.

Cumbria Tourism’s Marketing Manager, Sue Clarke, says, “Cumbria is a world-class destination with plenty of inspiring experiences and adventure-based activities for people to try. Our new Experience Adventure Guide has an interactive, film-led format to engage and enthuse potential visitors in a new and attention-grabbing way and we think it’s ideal for capturing the imagination of younger target audiences who will become those all-important repeat visitors of the future.

We are particularly excited to have collaborated with a company of the calibre of Event Guides Ltd to develop this new digital product and open people’s eyes to what’s available here in the Lake District, Cumbria.”

Managing Director of Event Guides Ltd, John Kinsella, comments: “There’s no doubt that there will be plenty of other destinations and tourist hotspots looking at this product with a great deal of admiration. The travel and tourism sectors have been severely impacted by the pandemic, but this is a wonderful testament to the spirit of resilience, innovation and collaboration that exists within Cumbria.

 “Consumers have been swamped with webinars, endless email marketing messages, social clutter and virtual events and whilst there is some great content out there, it is more difficult to stand out and capture their attention. The inevitable shift to more non-physical marketing communications means that messages must be delivered with dynamism, energy and excitement. We believe that the digital edition of the new Experience Adventure guide pushes all the right buttons and will give Cumbria a contemporary competitive advantage.”

Click HERE to view the online guide.


Highways England has been confirmed as the latest organisation to become one of Cumbria Tourism’s official Strategic Partners.

Highways England is making a long-term commitment to the county’s tourism industry with the new ten-year agreement, joining a select group of influential tourism-related businesses who share Cumbria Tourism’s core values and desire to rebuild – and grow – the value of the county’s tourism economy.

The government company is responsible for operating, maintaining and improving the country’s motorways and major A roads – like the M6 and A590 in Cumbria – and is currently preparing to unveil a public consultation on £1bn improvements to the A66 between Penrith and Scotch Corner later this year. The plan to finish dualling the 50-mile section of the A66 between the M6 in Cumbria and A1(M) in North Yorkshire is/will be one of the biggest ever construction projects ever undertaken in the North and will boost the economic prospects of the region, including the tourism sector.

The company has an office in Penrith, several maintenance and winter service depots along routes across the county and two ‘outstations’ along the M6 near Carlisle and Kendal from where its traffic officers patrol the motorway.

Project Director Lee Hillyard says: “We’re delighted to be joining Cumbria Tourism’s ‘team’ of strategic partners, in effect formalising our commitment to supporting the tourism economy of the county. The strategic road network is vital to connecting communities, commuters, businesses and of course visitors right across Cumbria.

We’ve recognised from the outset that the A66 across the Pennines is one of the most important cross-country trade routes anywhere in the UK and important to tourism in Cumbria and Tees Valley. Dualling the remaining single carriageway sections of the road will help transform cross-country journeys, supporting Northern Powerhouse aspirations for better, less-congested connections and economic prosperity and sustainability.”

Jim Walker, Chairman of Cumbria Tourism, comments, “We are proud to be one of the UK’s largest member Destination Management Organisations and our Strategic Partners are a core network of organisations who want to get behind us share their collective expertise to champion the delivery of effective destination marketing for the county.

 A safe and resilient transport network and infrastructure is fundamentally important to our £3.1billion tourism economy and it is fantastic to welcome Highways England on board as a Strategic Partner. We look forward to drawing on their experience and enthusiasm to help drive forward our world-class destination for the future and make it an even better place for those visiting and living in the area.”

 Highways England joins a core network of fifteen other Strategic Partners, who are all highly respected and regarded across the tourism and hospitality industry:

  • United Utilities (Cumbria Tourism patron)
  • Burnetts
  • The Cumberland
  • Forestry England
  • Grasmere Gingerbread
  • Energisave
  • 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


Cumbria Tourism and the Lake District Hotels Association have been delighted by countrywide support for their industry recruitment campaign and are calling on even more businesses and partners to add their voice by calling for the Government to recognise the issues affecting the sector.

 Research by Cumbria Tourism has discovered that the recruitment challenge is a significant issue for 68% of businesses, a figure which has doubled in just a few weeks. With the industry supporting 65,000 pre-COVID jobs in Cumbria alone the sector is facing real difficulties just as the summer season is due to begin.

With Cumbria’s working population already limited by a super aging population, transport connectivity challenges and a lack of affordable housing, the impact of Brexit was always going to create staff shortages, but the Coronavirus pandemic has pushed this ongoing issue into outright crisis.

 “After 18 months of trying to survive, businesses had been excited to get back to doing what they do best and providing fantastic Covid safe experiences for all” says Cumbria Tourism MD Gill Haigh. “It’s been heart-breaking to watch them forced to reduce their services due to a staffing crisis exacerbated by the pandemic and immigration changes.

 Businesses are running out of options following months of lockdown and now should be the time for them to begin the recovery process by welcoming visitors from across the country. Instead, we are seeing hotels, restaurants, pubs and attractions forced to turn away paying customers, limit opening hours and in some cases close completely – all due to a lack of staff.”

To draw awareness to the issue Cumbria Tourism and the Lake District Hotels Association are asking businesses to contact their MPs with three simple asks:

  • To consider an immigration exemption for the industry, similar to the agricultural sector, to allow overseas workers to plug the skills shortage short-term.
  • To add the role of chef to the shortage list, recognising it as a skilled position that requires training and experience.
  • To dedicate Government resources to an industry recruitment drive, highlighting the wide range of available career options and dispelling negative myths.

With this issue affecting businesses nationwide both organisations are also working closely with other partners to ensure a strong, coordinated approach.

Ben Mayou, Chair of the Lake District Hotels Association, says “across our hotel association as a snapshot, we are collectively short of 270 employees of which 68 are chef positions across 19 businesses. These are all permanent positions and in addition, we are also looking for 50 seasonal employees. Never have we experienced such difficulties in recruiting staff.  In the current climate however, roles are simply not being filled placing even more pressure on the existing teams.”

James Mason, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, says “Tourism is a people industry. Businesses rely on staff to provide the top-level customer service we’re famed for and without a strong pool of front and back of house staff we’re operating with one hand tied behind our back before we even begin.”

“Put simply, if the sector doesn’t receive substantial support fast, we will see more businesses close” continues Gill Haigh.

“The industry is incredibly grateful for all the support received over the course of the pandemic, including the furlough scheme and business grants, but all this Government spending will go to waste if businesses are abandoned at this crucial stage.”

Further information on how to get involved in the campaign, as well as additional resources and advice on recruitment, can be found at Those looking to begin or continue their career within the county’s tourism and hospitality sector and view current vacancies at



Cumbria Tourism’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) has confirmed a number of changes to its Executive Board, including the introduction of two new Board members to help steer the industry through the post-pandemic recovery.

Following a rigorous application process, Cumbria Tourism’s members have formally ratified the appointment of two experienced and commercially minded Non-Executive Directors who will offer specialist knowledge and expertise to the organisation.

Jamie Allison, a partner at regional law firm Napthens will be the representative for professional services, while experienced hospitality director Nick Lancaster will represent the Western Lake District.

Kendal-based Jamie Allison heads up the Napthens’ Cumbria office and is also Head of their Real Estate group.  A highly experienced lawyer and advocate for Cumbria, Jamie has particular expertise within the licensed and brewing community (including as a relationship partner for the Society of Independent Brewers) and the wider leisure and hospitality sector.

He is also a non-Executive Director of community investment fund, Enterprise Answers and is on the board of both Kendal Futures CIC and Napthens charity foundation.

Meanwhile, Nick Lancaster’s career has seen him work for a number of hospitality businesses, from single independent units to multinational organisations throughout the UK.  During the last 16 years, he was Managing Director of Langdale Estate, one of the largest single-site hospitality businesses in the English Lake District.

Passionate about the local community, Nick is also a Professor of Practice at the University of Cumbria and is currently a tourism and hospitality consultant.

Both newly appointed Non-Executive Directors will hold office for a term of four years; they will then retire and be eligible for re-election for a maximum of 3 terms.

The changes ratified at Cumbria Tourism’s AGM have also seen the re-appointment of four other key roles. They are: Jim Walker, Lake District Estates (Large Operator Representative); Dan Visser, Langdale Hotel & Spa: (Digital Marketing Representative) (Currently Vice Chairman); Richard Rankin, H&H Group (Finance Representative); and Jennifer Cormack, Winander Leisure (Brand & Marketing Representative).

Cumbria Tourism’s Managing Director, Gill Haigh, says, “A strong, experienced and unified Board has never been more important for our industry as we navigate the challenges ahead, not least the post-pandemic recovery and the serious recruitment issues currently facing the sector.

 “We are delighted to welcome two new Non-Exec directors of Nick and Jamie’s calibre, as well as the reappointment of four extremely dedicated and capable directors who have already helped to champion and steer our industry through a very challenging 15 months. As an organisation, we must continue to evolve and serve our member businesses well, and I firmly believe these latest appointments will enable us to do just that.

Cumbria Tourism’s full list of Executive Board members can be seen at:

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”.


11th May 2021

Safe, open outdoor spaces and welcoming businesses are the key themes for Cumbria Tourism’s 2021 Holiday Guide, and Lake District-loving celebrities have shared their reasons why the county is #theperfectplacetobe for a post-lockdown break.

Including personalised messages from stars including outdoors champion Julia Bradbury and Cumbria’s very own Helen Skelton, the 100-page guide celebrates the very best of what Cumbria has to offer and encourages visitors to plan and book their post-lockdown trips ahead.

Following the unveiling of the Government’s ‘Roadmap to Reopening’ the outdoors is set to be more important than ever and tourists will be looking to get outside in the fresh air alongside families and household bubbles.

The 2021 Guide forms part of the recovery campaign that Cumbria Tourism is delivering on behalf of the whole county. It provides a wide range of options for all abilities, highlighting quieter gems such as the Cumbrian coastline, the Eden Valley and Morecambe Bay as well as inspiration for activities and adventures.

“Cumbria truly is the perfect place to be for a staycation once it’s safe to travel again” says Gill Haigh, Cumbria Tourism Managing Director. “After such a long wait we’re excited to welcome visitors back to our county safely, and with so many amazing options on offer where better to enjoy the fresh air?

 “Whether they’ve been inspired to try out paddle boarding on England’s longest lake, or experience forest bathing in the country’s only mountain forest everyone will be inspired to book their stay after picking up a copy.”

Foodies will have plenty to salivate over as well, with pages of mouth-watering photography highlighting the county’s tasty treats. In addition to the county’s eight Michelin Stars, newly announced for 2021, the Guide includes a fantastic range of businesses showcasing the very best of local produce. Local MasterChef 2019 winner Irini Tzortzoglou also features, highlighting the county’s culinary delights.

Alongside information on important information such as disability access, dog-friendly accommodation and electric vehicle charging points, the Guide also highlights the attractions, restaurants and accommodation providers which have signed up to the national ‘We’re Good to Go’ accreditation scheme.

Identified by a ‘green tick’ logo this scheme highlights businesses with Covid-secure measures designed to safeguard visitors, staff and local communities, allowing tourists to book with confidence.

“Safety must come first”, continues Gill Haigh “and I’m immensely proud of the hard work our industry has put in to limit the risk of spreading Covid-19 without losing what makes Cumbria such a special place to visit. The ‘Good to Go’ accreditation gives visitors peace of mind that their safety is a key priority – all they need to do is look out for the green tick.”

The 2021 Visit Lake District, Cumbria Holiday Guide is available now and UK residents planning their next staycation can order a copy to be delivered for free at

Responding to Matt Hancock’s announcement in the House of Commons today, the Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says:

“Cumbria’s tourism industry thrives on welcoming visitors and providing first-class hospitality. It has been hit hard financially by the challenges of recent months, so it’s good to see the majority of our businesses out of lockdown and getting back to what they do best – albeit in a more limited way.

“At the same time, it’s a major concern that some businesses, such as wet-led pubs, will not be able to open. Some of the areas Cumbria traditionally draws on for its visitors are also facing tougher restrictions, with government advice not to travel from some parts of the North West, North East, Yorkshire and the Midlands. Dealing with this adds to the complexities and challenges facing businesses on a day-to-day basis, on top of the huge raft of measures they have already undertaken to ensure they are COVID-safe and ‘good to go’.

“Cumbria Tourism is grateful for the extension of the furlough scheme and other financial support, which we lobbied hard for, but these schemes in no way recompense the income already lost this year – a total of £1.86billion across our county, which is more than 60% of our visitor economy’s total annual value.

“We will continue to work alongside regional and national industry partners to ensure businesses are adequately supported throughout this unprecedented situation. Further businesses closures would be devastating not only for owners, but also to staff, their families and the wider community.

“At this time, the ‘support local’ message is more important than ever, and we are also encouraging Cumbrian residents to make the most of what’s on their doorstep. Cumbria is blessed with many wide-open spaces, not only stunning mountains and lakes but also parks, historic houses and more. Cumbria looks forward to welcoming both visitors and locals in line with all the latest guidelines. Our county truly has something for everyone, and every penny spent at a local business goes towards supporting communities and jobs.

“The situation is ever-changing, with a review scheduled for 16th December. We are hopeful for an improved situation to enable increased trading over the Christmas and New Year period and will monitor the situation closely.”


In this year of inconceivable challenge for the tourism sector, who are the shining stars within your business and how can you support their growth and development?

Cumbria Tourism is teaming up with the University of Cumbria – one of its Strategic Partners – to promote two new scholarships to two deserving individuals from the county’s tourism industry, for its internationally popular MBA in Tourism Management.

The scholarship would waive 50% of fees, which can be taken over one or two years – meaning a saving of £6000.

Cumbria Tourism is delighted to be partnering with the University to help identify nominations for the scholarships and is inviting businesses to nominate staff members that they would like to be considered. Individuals can also nominate themselves.

The deadline for nominations is Monday 7 December. A panel including both the University of Cumbria and Cumbria Tourism industry experts will make the selection and notify successful candidates the same week, with a view to starting the programme from 11 January 2021.  Nominations should be submitted online HERE.

In addition to the two scholarships, the University is also supporting the local talent pool by offering 17% off its MBA programme to any Cumbrian participant. (Any nominees not successful for the 50% scholarship will be immediately eligible for the 17% benefit).

This is a fantastic opportunity to support staff to develop more flexible, dynamic and positive approaches to upskilling the tourism industry, boosting productivity and finding innovative ways to respond to continuing uncertainty.

Dr Angela Anthonisz is Principal Lecturer in Tourism Management at the University. She says, “Workforce challenges are a huge issue for the tourism sector, exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19 and concerns around potential post-Brexit restrictions on skilled workers from the EU, as well as outdated perceptions of careers in the tourism and hospitality industry.

“This is the UK’s first postgraduate MBA in Tourism Management, launched this year to help graduates work towards the highest-level jobs the sector can offer. The MBA has already had strong international appeal and we are now keen to ensure our brilliant Cumbrian businesses and sector superstars also reap the rewards.”

 Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, adds, “This year of all years has proved how important it is to be continually resilient and flexible, to have the skills to adapt businesses and bring teams with you in order not only to survive crisis and challenge, but to use the experiences as a catalyst for growth and productivity.

 “We are hugely proud of how Cumbria’s tourism and hospitality businesses have adapted this year and it is fitting that the county’s very own university is recognising this effort and talent through this generous sponsorship award.”