Businesses from across Cumbria’s £2.9billion tourism sector are being asked to put forward their questions for a ‘Question Time’ style Brexit debate taking place at next week’s Lakes Hospitality Trade Show.

The topical Brexit-theme panel will be one of the highlights of the event at the Junction 36 Rural Auction Centre on Wednesday 13 and Thursday 14 March.

Just two weeks ahead of the planned departure date from the EU, it will be a chance for hospitality businesses to explore the specific effects of Brexit on the hospitality industry and discuss how business owners can take practical steps to maximise the positives and minimise the negatives.

The debate at 10.30am on Wednesday 13 March will be chaired by hotelier Jonathan Denby, who is Co-director of the Lakes Hospitality Trade Association. Joining him on the panel will be:

  • Gill Haigh, Managing Director, Cumbria Tourism
  • Martin McTague, Policy and Advocacy Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses
  • Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale
  • Andy Gould, Managing Director, South Lakes Insurance
  • Jennie Riding, Owner of The Lodges at Artlegarth


The audience will also hear from Copeland MP Trudy Harrison and Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart via pre-recorded video.


Up to 100 spaces are available to pre-register to be part of the audience on the day.

Businesses that cannot be there can also put forward their burning questions by emailing Sam Tollerson at Cumbria Tourism by Monday 11 March:


Co-director of the Lakes Hospitality Association, Jonathan Denby, says, “We are expecting this to be a lively and inspired debate. With all the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, it is an opportunity to look at some of the specific issues that matter to the hospitality industry, including free movement of people, migrant workers and future recruitment. This will be a great opportunity to hear from industry experts, as well as giving businesses a platform to air their views on the momentous days which lie ahead.”

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh says, “Cumbria has a unique rural economy that is heavily reliant on tourism and Brexit is a significant cause of concern and uncertainty. This debate will be a great forum to air a range of issues including border controls for visitors, import tariffs, the potential for increased operating costs and for many, the recruitment and supply of EU workers. Crucially, we can then use evidence gathered at the event to help our continued lobbying at the highest levels of Government – to ensure that the voice of our tourism and hospitality businesses is heard loud and clear.”

With a record 140+ businesses exhibiting at the 44th annual Lakes Hospitality Trade Show, a big turnout is expected across the two days. As well as the Brexit debate, well over 600 people have already signed up for a series of short workshops and seminars spanning everything from diversifying tourism businesses to tackling skills shortages and making the most of digital marketing.

Attendance at the show, along with all seminars and workshops, is free. Places can be pre-booked.

For further information

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