Cumbria Tourism and local MP Tim Farron have launched a petition which urges the Government to provide a package of financial support for the industry to help it through the rest of 2020 and into the Spring of next year.
The campaign hopes to attract support from MPs and Tourist Boards across the country in the coming weeks.
Tim Farron MP said: “We all know how important hospitality and tourism is to our local economy here in Cumbria and just how devastating a blow this crisis has dealt to our local pubs, hotels, cafes and restaurants. Having lost most of the 2020 season, these businesses are now facing three winters in a row.
“I’m proud to be joining forces with Cumbria Tourism to launch our petition for the Government to provide a package of financial support to help tourism and hospitality all the way until it is able to stand on its two feet again next Spring.”
Gill Haigh, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism said: “Businesses have already lost more than half the year’s income. At the moment the majority are preparing to reopen in early July, subject to government confirmation, but whilst they are eager to welcome visitors back though, the average opening capacities of around 60%, based on social distancing measures, plus the additional costs to ensure visitor and staff safety, will mean that for many businesses it will be difficult for them to remain viable.
“The furlough scheme and other support packages have been a lifeline to most businesses but with the furlough scheme due to close at the end of October and the long fallow winter months ahead businesses are worried sick about how they are going to survive. If tourism businesses fail the implications ricochet countywide, with knock on implications for suppliers and those other businesses who benefit from the industry, as well as the many services and amenities for our communities. This is why it is absolutely crucial that a clear package of financial support for the sector that will underpin them through the winter is not just forthcoming but confirmed as soon as possible to give the reassurance and confidence that is desperately needed and to safeguard jobs and such a major part of the county’s economy”
Jennifer Cormack, Sales and Marketing Director of Windermere Lake Cruises, said: “We welcome Tim’s help in making calls for more financial assistance at the highest level, further strengthening calls being made by Cumbria Tourism on behalf of thousands of its member businesses, including ours.
“Recovery from the effects of Covid-19 is very much a county-wide, team-effort and we recognise that any suffering experienced by any businesses has far-reaching knock-on effects. New packages of support would be a literal lifeline for countless individual businesses, not to mention other businesses which benefit from the presence of a strong visitor economy, including vital community services. We urge people who live both in and outside of Cumbria to help us get our economy back on the right track by adding their name to the petition.”
Mike Turner, Managing Director of Treetop Trek said: “Many tourist businesses like ours have already lost 40% of their annual sales during the forced closure period and are facing another 30% drop during the rest of summer with social distancing restrictions.
“The government support to date has been hugely helpful in the short term but without support during the winter many businesses and associated jobs will simply not survive.”
Liz Moss, Chief Operating Office of Lakeland Arts said: “Support for the cultural sector is absolutely critical – for many cultural organisations (cinema’s, theatres, museums etc) they were the first to be closed to the public as a result of Covid 19.
“Having lost around 41% of this years’ visiting trade already this year through closed doors, it is essential that we are able to make up lost ground over the remaining summer months and extending this into autumn and winter – without visitor spend and earned income we will not make it through the traditionally quiet winter months. We need help with extending the season and support for employee costs right the way through to next March to enable venues like Blackwell and Windermere Jetty to survive.”
Dan Visser, Director of Sales and Marketing at Langdale Hotel & Spa, said: “Our industry is facing unprecedented challenges and the timing of the COVID crisis could not have been worse for destinations with a seasonal pattern of demand.
“The government support so far has been very welcome with many jobs saved and businesses supported through the most difficult times they have ever faced. Without the support carrying on into the winter many more jobs will be lost and the effect on a region with few services in place to support the people and families affected.”