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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 See all five stages of the CCR 200 HERE.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.



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

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 www.visitlakedistrict.com/offers/order-a-free-holiday-guide.