Cumbria Tourism this week met with the county’s five Conservative MPs to discuss the state of the sector and to consider ways to work together to support its recovery and build back better – benefitting every corner of the county.

The joint meeting with Cumbria Tourism (Chairman Jim Walker, Vice Chairman Dan Visser and MD Gill Haigh) was coordinated by Carlisle MP John Stevenson, and also attended by Copeland MP Trudy Harrison, Workington MP Mark Jenkinson, Penrith and the Border MP Neil Hudson, as well as Barrow-in-Furness MP Simon Fell.

The importance of the sector to the county’s economy was discussed, as well as jobs and communities, the impact of the pandemic on businesses, business/consumer confidence, the valued support of government schemes such as furlough and grants, alongside joined up countywide plans for recovery.

During the meeting Cumbria Tourism repeated its calls to government for five key asks, to allow the sector to bounce back and once again make a full and valuable contribution to the county and support livelihoods, communities, health and wellbeing. These are:

  • A clear roadmap for reopening, which it’s hoped the Prime Minister will announce next Monday 22 February.
  • Continuation of the 5% VAT rate, bringing us in line with many of our European competitors.
  • An extension of the Business Rates holiday.
  • Confirmation that furlough will continue after April, on a phased-out basis, to allow businesses to begin getting back on their feet.
  • Support for Cumbria Tourism, as the county’s official Destination Management Organisation, to continue to work on behalf of the sector and to promote the whole county as a great place to stay all year round.

Commenting, Jim Walker, Chairman of Cumbria Tourism said: “We have been grateful for the support of all our county’s MPs to date, whom Cumbria Tourism enjoys regular and direct contact with. This has been really important, alongside our work providing evidence direct to government departments about the current challenges and problems faced by our industry.

 “However, this is the first time we have been able to come together in this way and it was a really valuable hour covering a wide range of issues. What I took away was a genuine desire to all work together, not only to support recovery, but also to make that recovery work even more effectively for all parts of the county and all year round.

“There was real depth of understanding of the challenges faced, lots of commitment for joined up working and an understanding of the need for a clear roadmap – and some changes and additional support now – in order to ensure Cumbria’s visitor economy thrives once more, bringing with it many additional benefits for the county and those living here.

 “The MPs have pledged their commitment to continue working alongside Cumbria Tourism and its members, and we look forward to continuing the dialogue as we move through these next few critical months.”

Meeting organiser, John Stevenson MP added:

“Tourism is such an important part of the Cumbrian economy – and so it is vital that the county works together to ensure that the when things start to re-open, the industry can succeed once more.

 This is why I co-ordinated this meeting between MPs and Cumbria Tourism, as the response has to come from all levels – from local authorities and organisations like Cumbria Tourism right through to the national government.

 The Cumbrian MPs will continue to work together – and with local industry representatives like Cumbria Tourism – to ensure our county can thrive beyond this pandemic.”

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