A group of international media with a combined audience of more than 6.5million people have been visiting Cumbria this week, thanks to a trip arranged by Cumbria Tourism and VisitBritain.

The five-day visit included journalists and social media influencers from across the globe, including the USA, China, Australia, Russia, South Korea, the Netherlands, Italy and Norway.

It was all arranged to celebrate the 70th anniversary of National Parks, with the visitors experiencing a wide range of Cumbrian attractions and internationally branded experiences here in Cumbria before moving on to the Peak District.

Almost 20 tourism businesses spanning the Eden Valley, Keswick and Borrowdale, and South and Central Lakes helped to host the visitors on their whistle-stop tour to give them a taste of the Cumbrian welcome on offer for international visitors.

The group also took in key locations such as Castlerigg Stone Circle, the Ullswater Way and Wordsworth’s Grasmere, as well as sampling a variety of authentic local produce along the way.

At the same time, Saudi TV presenter and social media influencer Ali Al Meshaal was also exploring Cumbria this week to create inspirational social media and video content in a second complementary trip also arranged by VisitBritain and Cumbria Tourism.

Cumbria Tourism’s PR & Communications Manager, Heather Sewell, says, “Our day-to-day work with VisitBritain to develop relationships with influential media is a vital part of what we do. Showcasing the very best of what the county has to offer to journalists and influencers means we can promote positive messages about the Lake District, Cumbria, out to even wider audiences and highlight the wide variety of attractions and experiences we can offer. This group included some prestigious travel writers and it was fantastic to welcome them here to see the region first-hand.” 

Targeting both established and new international markets is very important for us as a business,” says Tracey Cragg from Lakeside Hotel & Spa. “We are thrilled to host this group. In competitive times, it is so important that we work together as an industry to keep raising the profile of the Lake District overseas and showcase the very best of what our area has to offer to overseas visitors.”

Jim Lowther – owner of Lowther Castle – also helped host the visit and gave the group a personal tour of the Castle and Gardens. He says, “It was lovely to see such enthusiasm for Lowther and for the Lake District World Heritage Site as a whole. A great visit and many thanks to VisitBritain and especially to Cumbria Tourism for putting it together.”

A newly launched ‘English Lake District India Forum’ to help Cumbrian tourism businesses make the most of the UK’s growing appeal to overseas visitors has been welcoming the CEOs of some of India’s top travel agencies to the county.

The new Forum has been set up by Cumbria Tourism to bring together businesses targeting international visitors from the fast-growing Indian market.

This week’s high-level visit (Tuesday 18 and Wednesday 19 June) coincides not only with the launch of the Forum, but also celebrates the ICC Cricket World Cup in England and Wales, which is a massive draw for Indian sports fans.

The group includes Chief Executives and Managing Directors from leading travel agencies like Cox & Kings India and KFT Holidays, as well as trade media, airline partner Oman Air and representatives from VisitBritain.

Cumbria Tourism’s renewed India-focus is part of a long-term partnership with Marketing Manchester, who hosted the group for the India Vs Pakistan match at Old Trafford on Sunday, before they headed to Cumbria to explore the wider North West region.

The delegates have been travelling through South and Central Lakes to the Eden Valley to experience key visitor attractions including Gilpin Spice; Windermere Jetty, Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories; Windermere Lake Cruises; Lake District Country Hotels; Mountain Goat; Grasmere Gingerbread and Lowther Castle.

A cricket-themed drinks reception at Storrs Hall also celebrated the Cricket World Cup, including a helping hand from Millom Cricket Club and their Sri Lankan professional, Sameera Sadamal.

A second Indian delegation will travel to Cumbria next Monday 24 June, just ahead of the India Vs West Indies cricket match in Manchester. It will bring India Forum members together with key Indian Destination Management Companies which offer services including tours, travel packages and airport transfers. The aim is to help increase their knowledge of the country outside London and put Cumbria at the centre of their planning decisions for the coming year.

The new India Forum is the culmination of work Cumbria Tourism has been doing with Marketing Manchester in recent months, to help promote the Indian sub-continent and meet with Indian tour operators and travel agents face-to-face.

Cumbria Tourism’s Managing Director Gill Haigh says, “Cumbria has a compelling message for Indian visitors, who are renowned for their love of culture, heritage and the natural landscape. Businesses joining the India Forum will help forge even stronger links with overseas trade contacts and take an active role in encouraging more leisure visitors from the world’s fastest growing economy.

 “Working with Marketing Manchester is also essential, as we join together to unlock new opportunities and promote the wider North West to potential visitors from the Indian sub-continent.”

Sheona Southern, Managing Director of Marketing Manchester says: “India is an incredibly important market in Greater Manchester’s international growth ambitions. The subcontinent is a significant region of growth; responsible for nearly 17million outbound visits a year, with Indian visitors to the UK spending more than £400m in the UK annually.

“As such, it is vital that we work with our partners in the north to make the most of the opportunity that the Indian market presents, and we look forward to further collaboration with Cumbria Tourism’s new India Forum over the coming months and years to do exactly that.”

12 Cumbrian tourism business have already signed up form a Steering Group for the new India forum, including:

  • Dove Cottage & The Wordsworth Trust
  • Gilpin Hotel & Lake House
  • Grasmere Gingerbread
  • Mountain Goat
  • Muncaster Castle
  • Lake District Country Hotels
  • Lake District Estates
  • Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway
  • Storrs Hall
  • The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction
  • Treetop Trek and Treetop Nets
  • Windermere Lake Cruises

Businesses interested in joining the Forum can contact campaigns@cumbriatourism.org for more information.

Two top tourism officials will meet with businesses at Cumbria Tourism’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday 27 June, to share the Government’s perspective on the opportunities and challenges facing the county’s £3billion tourism industry.

Businesses gathered at Penrith’s Roundthorn Country House Hotel will hear ‘the view from Government’, with both David Martin (Head of Tourism Strategy and Sponsorship at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport) and Tim Jenkins (Policy and Public Affairs Manager at VisitBritain) as headline speakers.

Among the issues under the spotlight will be the Government’s plans for a Tourism Sector Deal and how this relates to Cumbria. The challenges of staff recruitment and skills, Brexit and infrastructure are likely to feature, alongside opportunities to grow productivity and the potential support available for rural tourism businesses.

With up-to-date analysis on the performance and growing economic value of the county’s tourism industry, as well as news on Cumbria Tourism’s national and international marketing and PR work, it is a jam-packed agenda. More than 120 businesses and representatives are expected at the event, which will also see the appointment of three new Non-Executive Directors for Cumbria’s official Destination Management Organisation.

And with just one week before the official launch of Carlisle Lake District Airport on 4 July, Stobart Group’s Kate Willard will reveal the latest on the first scheduled passenger flights for more than 25 years. The speaker-line up is rounded off with an update from Cumbria Tourism patron, United Utilities.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “Our latest research reveals the massive £3billion contribution tourism makes to our county and we’re delighted to be welcoming a great selection of high-level speakers to our AGM, who can update and inspire local businesses on the important issues facing our growing industry.

 “We are proud to be working at both a regional and national level to champion Cumbria’s tourism sector and we know that the latest insights from VisitBritain and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport will be invaluable to local businesses who want to continue growing and innovating for the future.

 “It is great to know that the Government recognises the value of rural tourism, although it’s also vital that we work together to take full advantage of the opportunities and tackle the challenges tourism businesses face on a day-to-day level.”

The day will finish with a ‘Question and Answer’ session for Cumbria Tourism’s member businesses.

Latest figures reveal that Cumbria’s tourism sector generated £3billion for the county’s economy last year and supported 65,000 jobs – 20% of the county’s total employment.

The statistics come from the Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor, commonly known as ‘STEAM’. The annual assessment has taken place for the past 20 years and is produced on behalf of a partnership led by Cumbria Tourism and supported by Cumbria’s District Councils, Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the Lake District National Park Authority

The latest STEAM analysis concentrates on Cumbria’s overall tourism performance for 2018 and reveals an overall 3.7% increase in the value of tourism compared to the previous year. The biggest increases in value were in Eden (+8.6%), South Lakeland (+5.6%), Barrow (+4.2%) and Copeland (+4.1%).

South Lakeland district accounts for the greatest share of £3billion tourism revenue at 44%, followed by Carlisle with 18% and Allerdale with 16%.

In line with Cumbria Tourism’s long-term strategy, the county also saw an increase in overnight stays in 2018, with an extra 410,000 bed nights across Cumbria. This supports the increased spend and significantly bucks the national trend.  At the same time, there was a small drop in day visitors to Cumbria of -0.7%.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “This is the sixth year of growth for the value of the county’s tourism industry, and the new £3billion figure underlines the importance of the sector to our economy.  

 “It also demonstrates the success of Cumbria Tourism’s continuing ‘attract and disperse’ policy, which draws on the strength of the Lake District brand to attract staying visitors who also want to discover and explore the wider county. The visitor economy brings a range of benefits to the whole of Cumbria and helps make the county not only a great place to visit, but also a great place to live and work. We believe that by working together there are significant opportunities to further grow the value of tourism.

She adds, “That said, we are conscious that these are testing times for Cumbria’s tourism sector. Our recent Business Performance Survey highlights continued rising costs for tourism businesses, uncertainties around Brexit and reduced consumer spending. As an industry, joined-up investment, co-ordination and partnership working is vital to ensure our world-class destination continues to sustain jobs and bring all year round benefits in the county as a whole.”

Nigel Wilkinson is a Cumbria LEP Board member and Chair of the Visitor Economy Sector Panel. He says, “The latest STEAM data confirms the strength of Cumbria’s tourism offer and Cumbria Tourism and partners success in taking this to the next level. It is really encouraging to see the growth in overnight stays and the results now being delivered by the attract and disperse policy.

 “This strong performance clearly demonstrates Cumbria’s important contribution to the emerging Tourism Sector Deal and puts down a clear marker of our potential to become a national Tourism Action Zone. Cumbria LEP (CLEP) will be working closely with Cumbria Tourism and our visitor economy partners to make Cumbria’s case”.

The Family Business Network is the latest organisation to move into what is fast becoming a thriving hub of businesses at Cumbria Tourism’s headquarters.

As well as being home to the county’s official Destination Management Organisation, the building in Staveley is already a permanent base for long-term tenants Land & Lakes and Lambert Smith Hampton. The Family Business Network now joins two other recent additions: wealth management business Raymond James and placemaking, destination marketing and business development specialist Tapir Ltd.

There is also room for further expansion, with a newly converted 600 sq ft (56 sq m) office space currently available for lease and offering desk space for up to 10 people.

The Family Business Network, founded by Sue Howorth, represents a large and growing community of family businesses, which began in Cumbria in 2014 and now covers Yorkshire, Lancashire and Lincolnshire.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “It’s a pleasure to be welcoming another leading organisation like the Family Business Network to our impressive and contemporary Staveley HQ. Not only does having a variety of businesses in the building help generate a real buzz and sense of community, but it is also great to be working alongside complementary businesses which all share a common goal of working towards a stronger, more forward-looking Cumbrian economy.”

Founder of the Family Business Network Sue Howorth, add, “The move to a new office space within Cumbria Tourism has given us a rather exciting start to what promises to be a very busy new year for The Family Business Network. The location is perfect for us with its proximity to the M6 and a big advantage of the new premises is the ability to use the internal Conference room. Many of the businesses that we work alongside are already familiar with the building and it offers pleasant surroundings for hosting meetings and events”.

Social media analytics reveal that #cumbriaday reached an estimated 16.5 million people on Twitter in less than 48 hours.

Figures calculated by Cumbria Tourism confirm a spike of online activity centred around #cumbriaday. It coincided with the county’s six MPs inviting 15 Cumbrian businesses to showcase the very best of Cumbrian produce to Lords, MPs, parliamentary staff and even the speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, in the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday 23 January.

Cumbria Tourism was one of the organisations at the event and to support the high-level celebration, the county’s official Destination Management Organisation threw its weight behind an online campaign to get #cumbriaday trending.

From local residents and visitors, to people with family connections or anyone who simply admires the county from afar, Cumbria fans were encouraged to share their best images, anecdotes and fun local facts.

In total around 4,000 online contributors generated almost 2,500 original tweets featuring #cumbriaday – reaching an estimated audience of 16,499,084 people in the Twittersphere between 22 and 24 January.

Social media big hitters ranging from the Daily Mirror and BBC Breakfast to Virgin Trains and national tourism body VisitBritain were among those getting behind the popular hashtag.

#CumbriaDay also featured in tweets in several foreign languages, including Spanish, Estonian, French, Swedish, Italian and even Indonesian.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “Cumbria Day was a fantastic success, thanks to the great work of our six MPs and hardworking businesses from across the county. We had a brilliant day with them down at Westminster and have been overwhelmed by the response to our #cumbriaday social media takeover.

 “A massive thanks to every single person who liked, commented, shared pictures or retweeted. So many people got behind Cumbria Day and it really has helped spread Cumbrian pride far and wide.

 “It’s ideal timing to promote the county, as Cumbria Tourism is currently mid-way through a five month seasonal marketing campaign to highlight the benefits of visiting our stunning county out of the peak holiday period. This latest flurry of online activity has undoubtedly brought the Lake District, Cumbria, to the attention of new and diverse audiences.” 

Cumbria is proving it’s the place to be once again, with the publication of an all-new guide dedicated to the county’s dog-friendly accommodation and attractions.

30,000 copies of the pocket-sized ‘Dogs Love Cumbria’ guide have been produced by Cumbria Tourism especially for people who don’t want their four-legged friends to miss out on their next holiday or day trip.

More than a quarter* of households across the UK have a dog in the family, putting pet-friendly queries among the most frequent types of enquiry from potential visitors.

Our latest campaign is expected to get tongues – and tails – wagging, with the best of what the county has to offer for dogs compiled in this single, handy guide.

Our Managing Director, Gill Haigh, says, “Our new guide summarises just how dog-friendly our beautiful county is, and we felt it was hugely important to show what a dog-friendly destination we are. They are, after all, part of the family, so why should they miss out on a great day out, or indeed the holiday of a lifetime?”

Waternook lakeside accommodation is one of the tourism businesses to feature in the guide. Owner Dominic Gordon says, “For us, our dogs form a vital part of the family. They’re loving, loyal to a fault, and bring so much happiness into our lives. We would never leave them at home when we holiday in the UK and I believe this is the same for the millions of loving dog owners around the country. The Lake District, Cumbria, is the perfect place to holiday year-round for all the family – especially for ‘man’s best friend’”.

Responsible dog ownership is a key part of the guide, especially during lambing season, when dogs should be kept on leads. Owners are also urged to always make sure they clean up after their dogs in a responsible manner, so the county remains clean and safe for others to enjoy.

You can download a copy of our ‘Dogs Love Cumbria’ guide on Cumbria Tourism’s official visitor website, GoLakes.

Cumbria Tourism – the county’s official Destination Management Organisation – is planning to emulate the 25 million reach achieved in last year’s winter marketing campaign with the launch of a FREE marketing toolkit to support its 2,500 member businesses through the winter months.

The toolkit comprises a wide range of marketing resources including striking imagery and seasonal itineraries for businesses to integrate within their own marketing, to promote themselves and Cumbria as an all-year-round visitor destination.

The toolkit is available to download as part of Cumbria Tourism’s Winter marketing campaign that runs until mid-March 2018, and supports the trade through to the crucial Easter holidays. The aim is to showcase the wide range of events and attractions people can enjoy throughout the winter, by sharing content, images and itineraries to inspire staycations and drum home the message that visitors are welcome at any time of year.

Early indicators show this year’s campaign is already performing particularly strongly with visitors to the winter section of www.golakes.co.uk up compared to the the same period last year.

PR successes continue to gather momentum with national travel reviews featuring in The Independent, Evening Standard, The Times and The Sunday Post Scotland promoting Cumbria as the ideal winter destination.

Gill Haigh, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism says: “We are committed to supporting our wonderful tourism businesses during the winter months. Cumbria Tourism is leading this bold high profile national reaching campaign which has real resonance with our target markets. Alongside this our free toolkit is specifically designed to provide practical advice and sharable content for businesses to use and add even more impact for themselves and Cumbria.”

For the second-year businesses are also able to be part of ‘LoveCumbria’, the winter rewards card for visitors. Businesses can put forward offers to the scheme or they can use the cards to encourage winter trade.

If you are interested in finding out more about the work Cumbria Tourism delivers to promote the destination and how to join as a member, please call 01539 822222 or visit www.cumbriatourism.org

Cumbria’s longest-running trade show is expanding for 2018, thanks to a new partnership between the Lakes Hospitality Association (LHA) and Cumbria Tourism.

The Lakes Hospitality Trade Show was established more than 30 years ago and is now one of the longest-running events of its kind in the North of England, committed to re-investing profits back into the tourism industry.

As part of a brand-new agreement, the LHA is joining forces with Cumbria Tourism – the county’s official destination management organisation – to host the next Lakes Hospitality Trade Show on Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 March 2018.

Free to attend, the two-day event at the J36 Rural Auction Centre is expanding to include an even wider range of hospitality businesses, including tourist attractions, food and drink suppliers and support services such as IT technology and catering equipment.

For the first time, the show will also include a series of interactive workshops run by Cumbria Tourism aimed at giving participants a new insight into topics including digital marketing, PR and new data protection regulations.

James Tasker, a Director of the Lakes Hospitality Association, says, “The Lakes Hospitality Trade Show has a fantastic heritage and has built up a strong reputation for giving business-owners and decision-makers direct access to a range of products and services which can help them grow and develop. It’s important that the show continues to evolve, and we are teaming up with Cumbria Tourism to help diversify what’s on offer to businesses and reach further into new and emerging markets.

“Our ultimate aim is to make the 2018 Lakes Hospitality Trade Show the biggest and best yet, so we can re-direct profits from the event back into the hospitality sector. Most recently, the money generated has helped to ensure that the Windermere Tourist Information Centre remained open, and we are committed to providing that practical support that the industry needs.”

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, comments, “The new partnership between the Lakes Hospitality Association and Cumbria Tourism is an exciting development, which will bring a fresh dimension to an event which has continued to grow and expand over the past three decades. The Lakes Hospitality Association is well-regarded by businesses and we believe that working together will help us to provide the maximum impact and support that our vibrant and diverse tourism sector deserves.”

To find out more about exhibiting at the Lakes Hospitality Trade Show on 7 and 8 March 2018, contact Show Co-ordinator Sarah Tasker on: 015394 44495 / 07709 152398 / sarah@lakeshospitalitytradeshow.co.uk.

The long-running Lakes Hospitality Trade Show for business providers, suppliers and supporters should not be confused with the similarly-named North West Hospitality Show taking place at the same venue in early 2018; this is a completely separate event.