Wine expert Joe Wadsack – best known as Tom Kerridge’s co-presenter on the BBC’s flagship Food and Drink Show – will be headlining next month’s Lakes Hospitality Trade Show. Meanwhile, a leading hotelier who has previously worked at The Dorchester and The Savoy is also lined up to host two workshops at the event.

The former wine columnist for the Daily Express, Joe Wadsack is an internationally respected wine judge and has made expert appearances on a string of TV shows including Saturday Kitchen and Great Wine Walks.

Joe has just been confirmed to officially open the two-day Lakes Hospitality Trade Show on Wednesday 7 March and will also host a free wine tasting workshop for attendees to book on the opening day.

At the same time, top hotelier Nigel Sandiford has been signed up to share his 5-star expertise with Cumbrian hospitality businesses with a workshop on both days.

Nigel’s career spans three decades at some of the world’s best-known 5-star hotels; he was Food and Beverage Manager at The Dorchester until last month and is the only person in the hotel’s prestigious 86 year history to have achieved their ‘Manager of the Year’ accolade twice. Nigel was instrumental in shaping the food and beverage businesses at both The Dorchester and Coworth Park over a 13-year period, and is also a former finalist at the hotel Cateys – the Oscars of the hospitality industry.

Drawing on his experiences of the luxury London hotel market, he will lead two workshops aimed at inspiring the local hospitality sector around maintaining standards and the culture of customer service. Nigel is also one of the key managers at the Dorchester Academy, linked to their graduate programme, and will provide attendees with a unique insight into training the next generation and developing the skills needed to deliver a five-star service to guests.

James Tasker, a Director of the Lakes Hospitality Association, adds, “It’s a real coup to get two speakers of Joe and Nigel’s calibre to talk directly to businesses and give them practical, first-hand advice.

“Joe has a phenomenal CV and is known to millions as a TV drinks expert with an energetic and passionate style. Meanwhile, Nigel will be drawing on experience working with some of the country’s most successful and respected hotel brands, who invest millions of pounds into researching and test-driving new trends and developments each year.

“We hope local businesses will make the most of this unique opportunity to sign up for these free workshops and access insider knowledge that simply isn’t available anywhere else.

The Lakes Hospitality Trade Show will take place on Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 March 2018, at the J36 Rural Auction Centre. Being held by the Lakes Hospitality Association (LHA) in conjunction with Cumbria Tourism, the event is expected to be the biggest in its 43-year history, with well over 100 exhibitors already confirmed and an additional marquee added to meet exhibitor demand.

As well as Joe and Nigel’s expertise, the full workshop programme will include specialist speakers covering everything from the impact of new data protection laws and the launch of Carlisle Lake District Airport to social media, PR, and the latest on making the most of the Lake District’s World Heritage inscription. Participants can book for free online.

Check out nine of the most romantic hotspots

Frequently voted as the UK’s most romantic destination, The Lake District, Cumbria is renowned for its wild and emotive scenery, providing the perfect place to spend Valentine’s Day or a romantic break away any time of year. Choose from luxurious hotels with state of the art spas to centrally located city chic apartments or remote retreats tucked away to relax, unwind, and enjoy some extra special time together.


Fulton’s Lakes Jewellery Works (Keswick): Choose the most important diamond of your life at Cumbria’s first Jewellery Works – If you are looking for a diamond ring in time to pop the question this Valentine’s Day,  then look no further than Fulton’s Lakes Jewellery Works, who opened its doors in October 2017 and is looking forward to their first Valentines season and welcome customers to not only buy a ring of their dreams – but to help design it, see how it is made and meet the skilled craftsman behind the scenes himself – Brain Fulton. The brand-new attraction is headed up by husband and wife team Brian and Zoe Fulton. Brian has been designing, making and selling exquisite bespoke jewellery to both the trade and public for 35 years since his training began at Openshaw College in Manchester.


The Leathes Head Hotel (Borrowdale): For an Edwardian Country House Hotel – This

magnificent award winning 11-bedroom Country House Hotel situated in the unspoilt Borrowdale Valley, just four miles South of Keswick is set amongst three acres of private grounds and is surrounded by stunning scenery and meandering rivers. This February enjoy a two-night Valentines break including a 7 course tasting menu by award winning Head Chef Noel Breaks – with matching wines whilst listening to beautiful harp music.

Valentine’s breaks start from £500 for 2 nights from the 16 to 18 February.


The Boathouse, Pullwood (from Heart of the Lakes): For a romantic room with a view – There can be few more idyllic locations in the Lake District than this stunning boathouse right on the shores of Lake Windermere in the heart of the Pullwood Bay Estate. Built in the 19thC this charming detached boathouse was once used by the owners of the original mansion house, now it has been beautifully renovated with all modern facilities and everything you need for a unique break away. Perfect for that special occasion or even just for a treat – this is truly a place to relax, unwind and take in the beautiful surroundings. If you are looking to get away to somewhere truly special this Valentines, then we are sure you will love The Boathouse.


The Wordsworth Hotel & Spa (Grasmere): Nestled in the enchanting village of Grasmere and surrounded by some of the region’s most iconic scenery this hotel is simply made for romance with all the necessary elements to celebrate the most romantic time of the year. Stay in a luxurious superior room where you’ll find a chilled bottle of Champagne and locally handmade chocolates waiting on your arrival. Head out for a walk taking in some of England’s finest scenery before enjoying a phenomenal 4 course dinner with canapes in the award-winning Signature Restaurant. A Bucks Fizz breakfast will be delivered to your bedroom the following morning making it the perfect start to the day.

Valentine’s breaks start from £229 Sundays to Thursday and £249 Saturdays and Sundays.


Askham Hall (Askham): A rural retreat fit for royalty – Dating back to the late 1200s, this Grade I listed hideaway was previously home to the Earls of Lonsdale and has open roaring fires, comfy sofas and intimate areas to create a warm, relaxing and luxurious feel. Couples can stroll hand-in-hand in the 12 acre gardens and enjoy a candlelit meal in the award-winning restaurant – menus are prepared using an abundance of fresh produce from the hall’s extensive kitchen garden, vegetable gardens and orchards.

Room rates start from £150 per night for 2, including breakfast.


The Belsfield, Laura Ashley Hotel – Overlooking England’s longest lake and with beautiful Laura Ashley interiors The Belsfield oozes romance inside and out and with flowers, chocolates and fizz ready in the room on arrival the fuss is taken away and couples can encapsulate themselves in each other’s company. With perfectly designed bedrooms, lake-view restaurant and idyllic gardens The Belsfield has romance in the Lake District to a tee.

Valentines Weekend Packages start from £237 per night or for Valentine’s Day itself from £299 per night, but on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis.


The Lodges at ArtlegarthIn the peaceful Yorkshire Dales, Artlegarth’s brand-new log cabins are perfectly designed and styled to provide modern and original valentines get away. Each with their own private hot-tub and a concealed cocktail bar the three lodges also have extensive glazing to ensure the spectacular views, of open countryside and fells, can be enjoyed inside as well as out, with a log burning stove to snuggle up in front of too. Guests can also choose for a range of exclusive extras including fresh flowers, hampers of local and artisan foods and spa and beauty treatments to be enjoyed from the privacy of the lodge.


The HalstonExperience the best of a serviced hotel with the privacy of your own apartment at The Halston Aparthotel in Carlisle. Cumbria’s only five-star apartments are the perfect city/country get away this valentine’s day. Only a short distance from the Lake District and from Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Sites whilst having original bars and restaurants within walking distance The Halston offers the best of both worlds.

The Ultimate Romance overnight stay for two in a one bedroom luxury apartment, complete with a pair of mini Bottega bottles and rose petals is £225, including a 3 course set menu for both in brand-new tapas and lounge bar Penny Blue, and breakfast in Bartons Yard.


The Cottage in the WoodCottage in the Wood is a 17th century restaurant and inn located in the heart of Whinlatter Forest and provides a secluded get-away for the foodies. The three AA Rosette, Inspectors Choice, restaurant provides breath-taking views of the mighty Skiddaw mountain range and the surrounding forest and offers a daily changing menu using local and seasonal ingredients. With Bassenthwaite, Derwentwater, Buttermere, and Crummock Water all near-by ‘The Cottage’ provides a tranquil and relaxing ambience and is the perfect base for exploring the magic of the Lakes.

Rooms are from £110 a night with three course meals starting from £45 per person and with their January Sale, guests can save up to £60.


For more ideas and inspiration on romantic escapes to the Lake District, Cumbria, visit:

The search is officially on to find the shining stars of Cumbria’s £2.72 billion tourism industry, as entries open for the 2018 Cumbria Tourism Awards – including a brand-new category introduced in honour of the county’s new double World Heritage Status.

The annual Cumbria Tourism Awards continue to grow year-on-year, celebrating the talents, achievements and sheer diversity of an industry which supports around 63,000 jobs across the county. This year, there are a record 18 awards to enter, including the new accolade for ‘Culture & Heritage Experience’.

Businesses have until Monday 5 March to enter this year’s Cumbria Tourism Awards. With categories spanning all aspects of the visitor economy, potential entrants range from small guesthouses, restaurants and self-catering units, to larger hotels, visitor attractions and wedding venues to name just a few.

The finalists will be chosen by an independent panel of tourism experts later this Spring, with the main awards ceremony taking place this summer alongside hundreds of tourism businesses and professionals. Some of the ultimate winners will then have the chance to put their name forward at national level for the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “Our tourism businesses offer the highest quality to visitors, and the Cumbria Tourism Awards are a fantastic way for businesses to showcase the quality of what they do to the wider world.

 “To win, or be shortlisted for an award, is a fantastic way to demonstrate how tourism operators are investing not only in their products and services, but also in their staff and ultimately their customers. The whole process of entering the awards can also help to gather invaluable feedback and insights into a business and how it can grow, develop and innovate for the future.”


Last year’s winners agree…

Fiona Lappin is Co-owner of The Malabar, which was the winner of ‘B&B of the Year’ 2017. She says, “We hoped the Cumbria Tourism Awards would give us some great exposure and it really paid off. We were delighted to have been shortlisted and thrilled to have won, not only for us but for Sedbergh and the surrounding area. It has definitely helped to put us on the map and of course given us the chance to enter the VisitEngland awards where we will be very proud to represent Cumbria later this year.”

Helen Griffiths, of Hart Barn near Ullswater, was winner of ‘Self-Catering Property of the Year’ 2017. She adds, “We were absolutely thrilled to win the award and even more overwhelmed by the response from our guests; the warmth of support encourages us to continue to improve and delight our visitors. To be recognised by Cumbria Tourism and the industry ahead of all the other properties in the county was a real honour.”

Cumbria Tourism members are eligible to enter any of the main 18 categories. A 19th award, the Bernard Gooch Award, will be selected by Cumbria Tourism’s Executive Board and members to recognise an outstanding personal contribution to Cumbria’s visitor economy.


Businesses can download their entry form at: or contact or for further information.

A year of celebrations is the key theme behind the 2018 Holiday Guide to the Lake District, Cumbria – launched this week by Cumbria Tourism – the county’s official destination management organisation.

Marking the county’s two World Heritage statuses and inspiring holiday makers to book their visit to this world class destination, the 100 -page guide celebrates the very best of what the county has to offer, from award winning places to stay, eat and visit. Showcasing the whole of the county, from Carlisle to Morecambe Bay, Whitehaven to the Eden Valley and everything in between, the guide offers a handy top 5 lists of surprising places to visit and things to see and do as well as personal insights from top chefs, award winning tourism business owners and celebrities including Eric Robson and comedian Ed Byrne.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says,

“This year – and with two World Heritage sites – Cumbria now has an even more compelling reason to attract visitors to explore our stunning county as an all-year-round visitor destination. In 2018 we have so much to celebrate as a destination from multi-million-pound investment in accommodation and visitor experience offer, ever-growing exceptional food and drink offer combined with heritage and cultural events, such as English Heritage’s hosting of the Weeping Window poppy sculpture at Carlisle Castle, which all contribute to the marking of our World Heritage Status.  If ever there was a year to visit Cumbria 2018 is the time.”

This year’s front cover image was chosen through a highly successful online #theplacetobe competition where fans of the area were invited to share their favourite image through The Lake District, Cumbria. Facebook page.

The competition generated hundreds of entries capturing the true beauty of the area. However, it was ­­Dave Brown’s stunning image of Friars Cragg at Derwentwater in Keswick that made the short list before coming out on top in the public vote.

Dave Brown, winner of front cover of Holiday Guide competition says:

“I am delighted that my photograph has been selected for the front cover of this year’s holiday guide. It was taken in April 2017 at Friars Cragg Derwent Water in Keswick. Cumbria has allowed myself and my disabled wife to take the time to recharge and get out and about amongst beautiful relaxing scenery. Being mobility scooter bound means my wife is restricted to where she can get to see, this was one of our very first walks together and as such will always have a big place in our hearts.”

Produced by Cumbria Tourism, the guide has been printed and distribution has already begun including over 168,000 e-mail alerts being sent to our visitor database letting them know the new guide is out.

Copies can be downloaded direct from or by calling Cumbria Tourism on 01539 822222. To find out more about days out and short breaks in the Lake District, Cumbria, visit the county’s official destination website: If you want to know more about the work of Cumbria Tourism and how you can get involved benefit from these key marketing initiatives please call the team on 01539 822222.

Cumbria Tourism’s latest ‘health check’ of tourism businesses reveals it’s been a strong visitor season for the county. At the same time, increasing costs, availability of staff and the potential impact of Brexit are all key concerns heading into 2018.

Cumbria Tourism’s business performance survey is carried out twice a year and aims to find out how the sector is performing. The latest version gave tourism businesses the chance to comment anonymously on the issues and trends affecting trade between April and September 2017.

The ‘health check’ reveals that the majority of business had a good season; 68% of businesses are level or up on profit, compared to 65% the same time 12 months ago. Meanwhile, more than half say visitor numbers are up compared to the same time last year.

Three quarters of those surveyed also feel confident about the coming months. However, there is no room for complacency, with many tourism operators raising ongoing concerns, including:

  • Increased costs
  • People spending less
  • Availability of suitable staff
  • Traffic and parking issues for visitors
  • Website commissions for online travel agencies
  • The potential impact of Brexit on operating costs, border controls and recruitment.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “Cumbria Tourism is the only organisation conducting tourism research on behalf of the county’s tourism sector and this invaluable insight enables us to continually refine and enhance our impact. Crucially, it allows us to lead and lobby on businesses’ behalf more effectively, by giving us first-hand evidence of the practical issues facing the tourism industry on a day-to-day basis.

“As the county’s official Destination Management Organisation, Cumbria Tourism is well connected with key influencers and will use every opportunity to highlight the issues that matter to businesses and to seek to influence policy-making in these areas. Concerns around labour supply, traffic issues, operating costs and commissions for online travel agencies have all been high on my agenda at recent high-level meetings with key decision-makers. That includes the Home Office, VisitBritain, and Heritage and Tourism Minister John Glen MP, as well as the county’s local authorities and decision makers.

“The findings will now also be shared with Cumbria Tourism’s partners, including the Local Enterprise Partnership, Chamber of Commerce, Lake District National Park and the county’s MPs, in order for them to use this evidence to support their own influencing and decision-making.”

The six-monthly ‘Tourism Business Health Check’ is just one area of regular research undertaken by Cumbria Tourism. Other analysis by the research team includes monthly occupancy surveys, county-wide visitor surveys, regular analysis of accommodation stock and data collection from Tourist Information Centres and visitor attractions.

For more information on Cumbria Tourism’s research programme, contact Research Manager, Helen Tate:

Thirty years ago to the day (7th December 1987), two ancient fortifications gained global recognition in the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. Now an announcement from Heritage Minister, John Glen MP sees both those sites – Hadrian’s Wall and the Great Wall of China – sign an exciting new agreement to work together on research, education and tourism growth.

Cumbria Tourism is welcoming the move, which will see representatives from these two renowned World Heritage Sites working together to examine the challenges and opportunities of managing large and complex archaeological remains and to explore the potential tourism growth in both countries.

China is a key visitor market for Cumbria, with an increasing number of Chinese travellers drawn to internationally recognised sites such as Hadrian’s Wall and the neighbouring Lake District. This week Cumbria Tourism’s Managing Director Gill Haigh also joined a high-level delegation in central London to showcase the region’s appeal to Chinese visitors. The event included key influencers from VisitBritain and the Chinese National Tourism Administration, alongside Heritage Minister John Glen MP.

Mrs Haigh says, “As the county’s official Destination Management Organisation, Cumbria Tourism considers Hadrian’s Wall to be one of the most important tourism products we have, so we are thrilled about this unique collaboration with another globally iconic historic site.

Coinciding with the 30th anniversary of World Heritage Status, it’s an exciting time to be promoting this fantastic asset far and wide.

She adds, “We already work closely with VisitEngland, VisitBritain and partners across the wall and in the North East, as well as businesses throughout the north of the county, to market the Hadrian’s Wall area to a range of domestic and international markets. This week Cumbria Tourism was also invited to be part of a special event between UK and Chinese ministers; this was a great opportunity to forge face-to-face relationships at the highest level and to continue generating international interest in Cumbria as a visitor destination.”

2018 will provide even more reason for overseas visitors to head to Hadrian’s Wall. English Heritage are investing £1 million into new developments and exhibitions at Birdoswald Roman Fort, with the aim of bringing families the best Roman experience in the region. Meanwhile, the Sill, near Hexham, continues to make its mark as the UK’s National Landscape Discovery Centre.

To find out more about visiting Hadrian’s Wall and World Heritage Sites in Cumbria visit:

Cumbria Tourism is warning that potential Government plans to reduce the VAT threshold could have a damaging effect on small businesses.

Cumbria Tourism represents around 2,500 member businesses and is alarmed to read reports that the VAT threshold might be lowered. It’s feared such a move would negatively impact smaller business operators such as B&Bs and guesthouses by increasing costs, reducing competitiveness and adding unnecessary administration burden.

As the official Destination Management Organisation for the county’s £2.72 billion visitor economy, it is calling for the Government to maintain the current level of registration.

Board member Haydn Spedding is Cumbria Tourism’s small business representative. He says, “The reliance on the visitor economy in a rural county such as Cumbria, with a population of under half a million, is disproportionately significant. The majority of tourism related operators in the county are small businesses and therefore any uncertainty of negative changes to VAT thresholds would have an impact on the economy as a whole.”

Haydn adds, “A recent Cumbria Tourism Business Performance Survey revealed that 60% of respondents are already concerned about increased costs. This is coupled with other challenges facing the sector including online travel agencies, staff availability and the concerns over Brexit and its potential impact on operating costs, border controls and recruitment. Any further changes that impact on costs and profit will undoubtedly force a number of small business owners out of business.”

Cumbria Tourism has called for the support of The Tourism Alliance to help lobby the Government on the issue and is also requesting that the flat rate for VAT continues to increase with inflation.

Cumbria Tourism is paying tribute its former Managing Director, Ian Stephens, after he was presented with a special ‘Lifetime Contribution to Cumbria’ award at the In-Cumbria Business Awards 2017.

This prestigious accolade is given to someone who has had a significant and positive impact on the Cumbrian business community over a period of years.

Ian stepped down from his role at Cumbria Tourism this summer, after working in the tourism and leisure sector for almost 30 years in a number of operational and leadership roles. He became Chief Executive of Cumbria Tourism in 2005, and was formerly the organisation’s Deputy Chief Executive and Operations Director.

During his time at Cumbria Tourism, he played a pivotal role in various marketing campaigns such as The Place to Be, Taste Cumbria and Adventure Capital. He was also heavily involved in crisis management around issues such as Foot and Mouth recovery and flood recovery.

Cumbria Tourism’s current Managing Director, Gill Haigh, says, “We are all so proud of Ian and thank him for all he has given and continues to give Cumbria Tourism, the tourism sector and the county. Ian has created a lasting legacy and the team here are CT are committed to ensuring we build on this good work and continue to drive forward our vital £2.72billion visitor economy.”

Notes to Editors:
Cumbria Tourism is the county’s official Destination Management Organisation and is at the heart of the Cumbria Visitor Economy. It is also the largest membership organisation in Cumbria with more than 2,500 members. In 2016, 45 million people visited Cumbria, contributing more than £2.72 billion to the local economy and supporting around 62,000 jobs.
For more information about visiting the Lake District, Cumbria, visit:
To find out more about the work of Cumbria Tourism, visit

The latest plans for Carlisle Airport, hot-off-the-press sector performance data, expert advice for businesses wanting to make the most of World Heritage Status and details on funded tourism apprenticeships – just some of the headline topics at Cumbria Tourism’s Members’ Meeting this Thursday 9 November 2017.

This key event in the county’s tourism sector calendar will be held at Carus Green Golf Club and is open to Cumbria Tourism’s 2,500 member businesses. It will also feature a ‘Question Time’ style session with tourism experts focussing on: ‘Maximising opportunities for the visitor economy’.

As the county’s official Destination Management Organisation, Cumbria Tourism’s event brings members together to network and discuss topical issues, hear insights into major developments within the county, as well as details on marketing opportunities available to the tourism industry. This week’s event will be the inaugural meeting with new Managing Director Gill Haigh at the helm, and she will be outlining her observations and thoughts on future priorities and opportunities for Cumbria Tourism and the sector.

She will be joined by guest speakers Kate Willard (Stobart Group) and Martin Saxton (Stobart Air) to discuss the business benefits of Carlisle Airport’s upcoming expansion, and Paul Armstrong (University of Cumbria), who will outline opportunities for degree level apprenticeships and student placements.

The meeting will also feature an update on Cumbria Tourism’s latest business survey which examined businesses’ perceptions of key issues including Brexit and the new Lake District World Heritage status.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says: “My first few weeks in the job have been extremely busy and productive and it says much for the high regard in which the organisation is held, and the central position it plays in promoting and supporting the industry. I have already met and been invited to meet with dozens of organisations, member businesses and individuals. I will be sharing my findings since starting the role, the significant achievements Cumbria Tourism has been making, and importantly, my thoughts on our future priorities and opportunities ahead”.

The event is supported by our corporate and supplier members, including Kashing, Cumberland Business, The Cocoabean Hawkshead, Bucket & Spade, Visit Kendal, Lakeland Radio, Sealy Beds, Northern Print Distribution and H & H Reeds Printers, as well as Cumbria Tourism’s own commercial services. Cumbria Tourism recently revealed plans to partner with the Lakes Hospitality Trade Show on 7 and 8 March 2018 and businesses can also find out more at the event.

If you are a current member and have not yet booked your place at the Members’ Meeting – or if you are not yet a member and are interested in joining Cumbria Tourism – please contact the team on 01539 822222 /