As the tourism and hospitality sector begins to re-open this week, Cumbria Tourism has paid tribute to the industry for the way it has supported communities over the last three months and the careful preparations it has made as they begin to be able to welcome visitors and customers once more.
Covid-19 has cost Cumbria’s tourism economy £1.6 billion so far this year, more than half the total value of last year’s total contribution, and there is a long road to recovery lying ahead for hundreds of businesses and the more than 65,000 people employed in the crucial sector.
Based on its visitor research the official destination management organisation has developed a campaign that encourages local people to back tourism businesses and welcomes our visitors to begin to return. The campaign highlights the extraordinary lengths businesses have gone to in order to ensure safe, positive and enjoyable visits – huge numbers have already signed-up to VisitEngland’s “We’re Good to Go” seal of approval scheme, which reflects the government guidance businesses must adhere to. Cumbria Tourism’s own research shows 78% of people would feel more confident visiting businesses with some sort of visual certification as Covid-secure.
Cumbria Tourism has featured on national and regional TV and radio in recent days to raise awareness of the need for visitors to “Know Before You Go”, spreading key messages about the need to plan-ahead. The organisation is also using the exposure to drive people to its new visitor website, visitlakedistrict.com which offers advice for planning ahead and things to do once here.
President of Cumbria Tourism, Eric Robson, says, “Cumbria’s economy is hugely reliant on visitors. The Government says now is the time to re-open businesses with the wellbeing of both visitors and residents a top priority. Over the last few months businesses have gone to extreme lengths to make important changes to support safe and enjoyable visitor experiences. The ‘new normal’ affects us all, and we have a collective responsibility to safeguard wellbeing and protect jobs. While many visitors may not return immediately, planning ahead and booking now will be a tremendous help, and of course we are also encouraging visitors to support other local businesses like smaller shops and post offices, for example, while they are here.
“In addition to accommodation, many attractions also now need to be pre-booked, while some have timed or staggered entry in place, so always check first. Cumbria Tourism is a not-for-profit organisation, so by booking via visitlakedistrict.com or directly with businesses, visitors from the local area and further afield will all be directly helping our economy to recover.
“The Lake District, Cumbria, is the perfect place to reflect, to reconnect, rediscover, recharge and to reinvigorate after a very difficult start to the year. There’s no escaping the fact that social distancing is likely to become a way of life for the foreseeable future though, so a joined-up approach with local authority partners, public health officials and businesses will be required for quite some time. With that in-mind, we are working hard to publicise the fact that Cumbria is open for business and good to go!
“As Cumbria Tourism, we represent the whole county and continue to urge our visitors to explore beyond the boundary of our famous Lake District and to support local businesses whenever possible. We have many areas much more off the beaten track to explore and open spaces to enjoy and will continue to use our ‘attract and disperse’ messaging to help people discover areas of our world class landscape they may never have seen before, along with attractions, experiences, activities and adventure, food and drink, heritage, arts, and culture.”
At the weekend, Cumbria Tourism teamed-up with local MPs to visit many of Cumbria’s attractions and accommodation providers, eateries and other venues to help bring additional attention and focus to the reopening of the sector. This week, Cumbria Tourism will also meet Tourism Minister, Neil Huddleston, thanks to support from Tim Farron MP.
“We will ensure we use this opportunity to leave the Minister in no doubt about the scale of the challenge and the urgent long term support package required”, Eric added.