Cumbria Tourism’s newly confirmed President has revealed his priorities for the coming months, with businesses’ growing concerns about the Government’s policy on migrant workers at the top of the list.
Renowned broadcaster and author Eric Robson was recently appointed as President, after Lord Inglewood stood down from the honorary role after 15 years. He has now set out his key areas of focus, with Brexit-related issues around labour supply, recruitment and skills among the key issues he intends to highlight to broadcasting and political contacts both regionally and nationally.
This reflects the issues raised by business in Cumbria Tourism’s most recent Business Performance Surveys, including fears that the proposed £30,000 skills cap will compromise the growth of Cumbria’s £3billion tourism sector and destabilise the county’s economy as a whole.
Eric says, “Critical discussions regarding access to labour, recruitment and skills are at the forefront of my mind, particularly in light of the ongoing machinations around Brexit. I am deeply concerned by Government recommendations that appear to make it harder for ‘low skill’ EU nationals to enter and support our tourism sector.
“European workers are an important asset in Cumbria and there is widespread anxiety about the impact this will have on tourism businesses which are already facing challenges around rising overhead costs and ever-changing consumer habits around the way people spend their money.”
Among other top priorities for Eric is the wider-ranging issue of transport and infrastructure, both to and within the county.
He adds, “I want to ensure we keep up the pressure on rail companies to deliver reliable, consistent services. Upping their game on the Cumbrian Coast line is also a must.
“I also have a personal passion for increasing and improving a range of cycling and walking routes, including plans to re-open the Carlisle-Waverley Viaduct as a route which links both sides of the River Eden in Carlisle. I will certainly be advocating the upgrading of the C2C to a National Trail and I am also firmly behind Cumbria Tourism’s efforts to work with Barrow Port to bring more smaller expedition cruise ships to the county.”