New data finds Cumbria’s tourism industry struggling in comparison to pre covid times

by | Jun 22, 2022 | News

Wasdale - Cumbria Tourism

Latest figures reveal that Cumbria’s tourism sector continues to lag well behind pre-Covid levels.

The statistics for 2021 come from the Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor, commonly known as ‘STEAM’. The annual assessment has taken place for more than 20 years and is produced on behalf of a partnership led by Cumbria Tourism and supported by Cumbria’s District Councils and the Lake District National Park Authority.

  • The total revenue generated across the county by the sector was £2.6billion in 2021, still 16% behind 2019 when revenue was £3.1billion.
  • Whilst visitor numbers increased last year compared to 2020, the various lockdowns meant visitor numbers remained 23% down on 2019.
  • Compared to 2019, day visitors were 24% down and staying visitors 12% down in 2021.
  • There were 17% fewer full-time equivalent roles in 2021, compared to 2019 (a drop of 6,286 FTEs, which is estimated to equate to 10,809 actual jobs).

Highest levels of economic growth in 2021 were in shopping, accommodation and transport. Spend on both recreational activities and food and drink was less buoyant, compared to the previous two years. 84% of visitors to Cumbria were visiting just for the day. Day visitors generated just under half of the county’s tourism revenue (49%) and staying visitors just over half (51%).

In a usual year, the six-month period between April and September generates around 62% of tourism revenue for the year.

In 2020, almost half of the year’s total revenue was generated in just three months between July and September. Just 4.7% was generated between April and June. In 2021, a similar pattern of concentration was found, with 45% of the total year’s total revenue concentrated in July, August and September.

Commenting, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh says: “As expected, with greater freedoms from May onwards, and with the restrictions on overseas travel, 2021 saw a much-needed bounce back on 2020 when the value of the visitor economy halved. This together with a range of support measures from the Government was critical to supporting businesses, jobs and communities.

“However, the losses incurred by businesses in 2020 and last year, together with rising costs, the return of international travel for the domestic market and the slow return of our international markets, means that there is still a long road to full recovery. So far this year businesses are reporting a mixed picture with the cost of living having its impact on the sector. Businesses are particularly concerned about the winter months.

“Our visitor economy is integral not just to the businesses but to jobs and the fabric of our places and communities. That is why it is essential that businesses that are supported by the sector, as well as our partners, continue to support Cumbria Tourism who, in turn, will continue to invest in destination marketing inspiring visitors to come throughout the year, explore all parts of the county and to ultimately have an amazing experience.”