This week, local MP Tim Farron, Cumbria Tourism and its hospitality leaders from the Lake District, Cumbria, held a call with Tourism Minister Nigel Huddlestone to make the case for long-term support for the hospitality and tourism industry.
Tim and Cumbria Tourism’s Managing Director Gill Haigh were joined by Nigel Wilkinson, Managing Director of Windermere Lake Cruises, Dan Visser, Director of Langdale Estate, Mike Turner, Director of Treetop Trek, and Jim Walker from Lake District Estates.
The group made a presentation to the minister, underlining the impact Covid-19 has had on the industry and continues to have as businesses and visitors adapt to the new normal. The panel thanked the Government for its support to date but made it clear that further grants and wage support would be critical to help businesses in the sector survive through to Spring of next year.
The Tourism Minister said that “there could be additional measures to give some boost to hospitality and tourism that may be sector specific.”
Speaking after the meeting, Tim said: “We had a very positive meeting with the minister who was really supportive of our case.
“The support we’ve had from the Government so far has been really welcome, but we do really need that extra support if jobs and businesses are going to make it through the Winter.”
Gill Haigh, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism said: “We’re very grateful to Tim for arranging this meeting and to Nigel Huddleston for taking the time to hear our concerns on the impact of Coronavirus to our industry and the actions now required to support businesses through the next stages. Whilst many have now opened and are seeking to make the most of what’s left of the summer season the lost four months, coupled with lower capacities due to social distancing, mean that tourism businesses urgently require assurances of long term support through to 2021.”
Nigel Wilkinson, who also sits on the Board of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP) and leads CLEP’s work on the visitor economy added: “Our sector is facing the equivalent of three consecutive winter seasons and unless programmes are put in place to retain jobs and skills within the sector beyond October, to increase training opportunities and to market the county to new audiences and extend the main season, Cumbria will be facing widespread redundancies and the loss of key skills that cannot easily be replaced.”
The group also took the opportunity to welcome this week’s announcement of £1.57 bn of funding for the cultural sector and were reassured by the Minister’s commitment that this funding would be extended to all relevant institutions and venues and is not swallowed by the “London Bubble”.