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Value of Cumbria’s tourism sector hits £3billion mark for first time

Gill Haigh, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism

Latest figures reveal that Cumbria’s tourism sector generated £3billion for the county’s economy last year and supported 65,000 jobs – 20% of the county’s total employment.

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

The latest STEAM analysis concentrates on Cumbria’s overall tourism performance for 2018 and reveals an overall 3.7% increase in the value of tourism compared to the previous year. The biggest increases in value were in Eden (+8.6%), South Lakeland (+5.6%), Barrow (+4.2%) and Copeland (+4.1%).

South Lakeland district accounts for the greatest share of £3billion tourism revenue at 44%, followed by Carlisle with 18% and Allerdale with 16%.

In line with Cumbria Tourism’s long-term strategy, the county also saw an increase in overnight stays in 2018, with an extra 410,000 bed nights across Cumbria. This supports the increased revenue and significantly bucks the national trend.  At the same time, there was a small drop in day visitors to Cumbria of -0.7%.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says; “This is the sixth year of growth for the value of the county’s tourism industry, and the new £3billion figure underlines the importance of the sector to our economy.

“It also demonstrates the success of Cumbria Tourism’s continuing ‘attract and disperse’ policy, which draws on the strength of the Lake District brand to attract staying visitors who also want to discover and explore the wider county. The visitor economy brings a range of benefits to the whole of Cumbria and helps make the county not only a great place to visit, but also a great place to live and work. We believe that by working together there are significant opportunities to further grow the value of tourism.

She adds, “That said, we are conscious that these are testing times for Cumbria’s tourism sector. Our recent Business Performance Survey highlights continued rising costs for tourism businesses, uncertainties around Brexit and reduced consumer spending. As an industry, joined-up investment, co-ordination and partnership working is vital to ensure our world-class destination continues to sustain jobs and bring all year round benefits in the county as a whole.”

Nigel Wilkinson is a Cumbria LEP Board member and Chair of the Visitor Economy Sector Panel. He says; “The latest STEAM data confirms the strength of Cumbria’s tourism offer and Cumbria Tourism and partners success in taking this to the next level. It is really encouraging to see the growth in overnight stays and the results now being delivered by the attract and disperse policy.

“This strong performance clearly demonstrates Cumbria’s important contribution to the emerging Tourism Sector Deal and puts down a clear marker of our potential to become a national Tourism Action Zone. Cumbria LEP (CLEP) will be working closely with Cumbria Tourism and our visitor economy partners to make Cumbria’s case.”

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