One of Cumbria Tourism’s Strategic Partners and best-known attractions says as the school holidays approach, the county’s residents can help in the summer’s crucial efforts to get the local economy moving again.

As the tourism industry continues its phased reopening approach for businesses across the county, Windermere Lake Cruises has further outlined how it is working to ensure the health and safety of its passengers remains its top priority, with pre-planning and booking ahead becoming ‘the new normal’.

As one of the top ten most popular paid-for attractions in the whole of England, it catered for 1.61 million passenger journeys last year, before the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the temporary closure of all tourism-related businesses earlier this year.

Sales and Marketing Director, Jennifer Cormack, says, “Now, with all previously furloughed staff returning, services have been gradually re-introduced onto the lake in recent weeks, beginning with small self-drive boats, private hire of traditional wooden launches, and our fleet of larger ‘steamers’. Like so many of Cumbria’s tourism-related businesses, we have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to develop new systems and procedures and changed all of our products and services. Despite having no trading income since 20 March, we have made significant investment in new systems to future proof the business. As Cumbria’s biggest attraction, we have an important part to play in helping to “kickstart” the visitor economy which supports 65,000 jobs in Cumbria, the equivalent of more than 38,000 full time roles.

“We have had to essentially create a new business using existing assets. With restricted capacities, we have introduced new routes and new timetables to ensure that we can implement social distancing. Cleaning routines both onboard and at onshore facilities have also been reviewed, with extra measures in place to ensure surfaces like handles, railings and counters are regularly disinfected.

“With all cruises now operating on ‘circular’ routes, starting and ending at the same points with no stops at other piers, pre-booking online is essential as all seats are allocated in advance.

Whilst it has not been possible to reintroduce all of our usual services and offers, we do aspire to reintroduce our point to point sailings as early as August. However some of our routes and discount schemes will not be reintroduced until the 2021 season, and we want to thank our customers and local residents for their support, patience and understanding during this time.”

Nigel Wilkinson, Managing Director of Windermere Lake Cruises, says, “The safety of our passengers and staff has always been our top priority, a fact which has obviously taken on even more importance in recent months. We hope our new measures will ensure they can achieve exactly what they want from a cruise on Windermere: A Covid secure, enjoyable, relaxing experience with any concerns about health and safety quickly leaving their minds, so they can sit back, relax and enjoy the stunning views on England’s longest lake.”

While fewer seasonal staff than planned will be taken on this summer, the attraction’s efforts to future-proof the business has resulted in no redundancies of full-time workers being made, with every staff member returning to work this month for the first time since lockdown measures began in March.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “Since 4 July we are starting to see visitors return. Businesses have worked incredibly hard to put in the steps required to support safe visiting. We really need our local communities to get behind the industry by supporting local attractions whenever possible. The way local people responded by supporting other businesses in March, April, May and June was absolutely fantastic, and we need this strong showing of support to continue.

“Being such an important attraction here in Cumbria, many people will be looking to Windermere Lake Cruises as a great example of best practice. I know Nigel and his team have been working around the clock to make sure that sailings take place in the safest way possible. With so many people finally being able to enjoy a day out after the stresses of the last few months, this is yet another example of an attraction putting safety for residents, visitors and staff right at the top of their list.”

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