Cumbria Tourism will be flying the flag for Cumbria’s visitor economy at an influential ‘roundtable’ debate with the Governor of the Bank of England this Thursday 15 April – drawing on its latest first-hand research from tourism businesses as they start to reopen.

Cumbria Tourism’s Managing Director Gill Haigh has been invited to join the virtual event with Andrew Bailey to discuss how COVID-19 and Brexit are impacting the tourism industry, including the future outlook for businesses as restrictions continue to ease.

It coincides with the release of Cumbria Tourism’s new business performance survey, which has been compiled in the run-up to businesses reopening at Step 2 (today, 12 April) and Step 3 (17 May) of the Government’s recovery ‘roadmap’.

Although there is increased optimism since Cumbria Tourism’s previous business survey four months ago, the latest results do reveal that half of tourism businesses in Cumbria are still concerned there are ongoing challenges around cash flow/increased costs, consumer confidence and cancellations. The survey has been carried out in association with Lamont Pridmore and the key findings include:

  • The majority of Cumbria’s tourism businesses plan to reopen as soon as they are allowed to (85%). There was little variation by business type, although visitor attractions, restaurants, pubs and cafes were more likely to expect a time lag of 1-4 weeks before opening.
  • Only 41% of businesses will be fully open when the time comes. 36% will have limited facilities, and 29% will limit numbers/have reduced capacity.
  • Average capacity on opening across all business types will be 65%, with the most common response just 50%.  
  • Businesses have highlighted the key challenges around reopening as:
    • The extra workload to comply with requirements (cleaning and test and trace)
    • Recruitment and training of staff
    • Cash flow, along with the impact of social distancing and reduced capacity on the ability to make a profit.
    • Booking confidence levels
    • Costs associated with extra investment in outdoor spaces
    • Venues with mixed facilities /shared spaces having to change the way they open and operate.
    • Concerns about the affect poor weather could have.
  • For the year to date, 63% of tourism businesses report their booking levels are down (and 40% significantly so).
  • Businesses report a marked increase both in people booking for longer stays and in new visitors. A decrease in larger groups and international visitors is not unexpected.
  • Overall, 32% of businesses describe the government support over the last 12 months as having had a slight positive impact, and 57% say it has had a significant positive impact.  

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism Gill Haigh says, “The Bank of England event builds on the high-profile lobbying work Cumbria Tourism has done over the past 12 months around the impact of not only the pandemic, but also the implications of Brexit and wider long-term issues facing our industry such as skills and recruitment.

“It is an important opportunity to ensure the voice of the tourism and hospitality sector is heard loud and clear, and there’s no doubt that up-to-date, real-time evidence about the day-to-day experiences and concerns of Cumbrian tourism businesses remains vital in helping us to lobby the Treasury and other government departments as they shape policy going forward.

“The good news is that business confidence in the short term has improved, however, longer-term confidence remains an issue. When businesses were asked what their number one ask of government would be, the message was clear – a continuation of grants and other financial support systems until businesses can operate as normal.  

“We know that Cumbria’s tourism businesses are very resilient and will keep adapting and innovating, but we need to ensure the right support is in place to ensure that they not only have a successful summer but – having experienced a devastating 12 months – they also have confidence about forward bookings and cash flow for the crucial winter months too. This event is an important opportunity to get these messages across to key national decision-makers.”

Cumbria Tourism will participate in the virtual roundtable event with Andrew Bailey, Government of the Bank of England, on Thursday 15 April.

12th April 2021

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