New research highlights continuing financial squeeze on business profitability

by | Nov 7, 2023 | News

Business Tracker Survey

New Cumbria Tourism research reveals the full impact of the financial pressures tourism operators are facing as they head into winter 2023 – and provides vital, up-to-the-minute data the organisation can use to fight Cumbria’s corner on the national stage.

Carried out in conjunction with Lamont Pridmore, Cumbria Tourism’s latest Business Performance Survey reveals the top eight concerns for tourism operators this autumn are all cost-related, either directly impacting businesses themselves or their customers.

86% are concerned about increased costs in general, while 78% highlight rising energy bills and 71% worry about passing on cost increases to customers – up from 66% six months ago. The cost-of-living crisis, inflation, labour costs, fuel costs and interest rates are all cited as additional challenges.

Staffing issues also continue to be a major issue for Cumbria’s tourism businesses. Increasing wage costs are a problem for 94% of tourism operators, while 79% say recruitment of staff is an issue. A lack of applicants is a concern for 86% and this is compounded by a loss of European staff post-Brexit.

At the same time, there are signs of longer-term positivity with almost half of all tourism businesses anticipating growth over the next five years.

It’s a complex picture that Cumbria Tourism will be highlighting to MPs, trade bodies and central government – to ensure local, regional and national decision-makers address the key issues facing the county’s visitor economy.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says: “This real-life data comes direct from tourism businesses and really is invaluable. For instance, evidence provided by our Spring Business Performance Survey earlier this year was instrumental in highlighting issues around staff transport and led to a number of bus routes across Cumbria being reinstated.

“This latest evidence again underlines a range of financial pressures which are continuing to squeeze profitability. It also proves that ongoing issues around recruitment and retainment haven’t gone away. This is compelling evidence which we will be using to fight Cumbria’s corner through our ongoing lobbying work both regionally and nationally.

“Not only will we continue to feed this up-to-date evidence into the development of Cumbria’s new Destination Management Plan (DMP), but we will continue to highlight ongoing challenges to key decision-makers including national politicians and tourism bodies, MPs, Cumbria’s Unitary Authorities and many more.”

Graham Lamont, Chief Executive of Lamont Pridmore adds “While most businesses are clearly facing a challenging time, particularly regarding increased costs and finding staff, it’s heartening to see that so many tourism businesses have a more optimistic outlook for the medium term.  In our experience, businesses that continue to invest in their staff, the overall quality of their products and services, and work with the right professional advisers, are more likely to be able to ‘weather the storm.”