While Cumbria Tourism continues to support hundreds of tourism businesses as they prepare to re-open, it has conducted a national survey sponsored by The Cumberland Building Society to better understand visitor attitudes towards the county.
Forming a vital part of the organisation’s research into consumers’ future travel habits, questions ranged from the kind of measures visitors would like to see in-place during their trip, to the areas they would feel most at ease.
While confidence in the county as a visitor destination remains high with 83% considering Cumbria to be a safe place to visit, 44% of respondents said that while they do plan to visit in the future, they are going to wait a little longer before making any decisions.
The survey results show that visitors want to embrace responsible tourism, with 98% expecting to witness regular cleaning in operation, while 96% would like easy access to hand sanitiser stations. A further 92% would take comfort in seeing social distancing signage and rules, with overwhelming support for limits on visitor numbers and reserving places in advance at attractions. 78% of respondents also say they would be confident about visiting businesses which have signed up to a national accreditation scheme, to demonstrate their commitment to good hygiene and public safety measures.
Businesses are 100% committed continuing to work very hard behind the scenes to welcome visitors back, after the government set 4 July as the target date to begin reopening the hospitality, tourism and leisure sectors – carefully considering the best way to put people’s safety at the heart of their rigorous assessments and plans. Restaurants, for example, will see changes made in kitchens to ensure chefs remain two metres apart, while accommodation providers are factoring in social distancing, enhanced cleaning regimes and contactless check-in and check-out procedures.
The survey also found more than 90% of respondents would feel safe visiting outdoor places like parks, gardens and villages in the coming weeks. To that end, businesses whose offer includes open green spaces are also taking steps to ensure they can open safely. Visitors too, will need to think differently. Planning visits in advance, checking and booking ahead, and thinking about travel arrangements as well as eating and drinking must all be considered.
The survey also found the appetite for visits to less well-known and quieter parts of Cumbria has increased. There is encouraging news for the hospitality trade too, with 70% saying they would feel safe in hotels, guesthouses and B&B accommodation, as well as at visitor attractions with both indoor and outdoor facilities.
Over the next 12 months around 50% said they expect to take more day trips and overnight stays in the UK than usual. A further 54% said they expect to take fewer trips abroad, switching to a domestic break instead.
The research was carried-out primarily via Cumbria Tourism’s visitor database and social media channels, with a combined reach of hundreds of thousands of people.
Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “This is all about safety for everyone, from our visitors to residents, staff and wider communities. When you consider what the country has been through over the last 12 weeks, it is clear that The Lake District, Cumbria is viewed as a perfect place to recharge and reconnect with loved-ones. Confidence in Cumbria’s responsible approach to tourism will continue, with the health and safety of our residents, visitors and workers absolutely paramount.
“These findings will prove very valuable to help meet the expectations of our visitors. We would like to thank the thousands of people who responded, all of whom have played a really important role in our ongoing work to help businesses recover from a very difficult start to the year. We can now use this information to inform local businesses of the best-practices they can adopt to meet the evolving needs of their visitors, as well being very useful to help businesses inform their own marketing campaigns.”
The survey was sponsored by The Cumberland Building Society, whose Senior Business Lending Manager Grant Seaton says: “We are delighted that we have been able to support such a worthwhile and insightful survey which will help hospitality businesses to plan their reopening and offer the best possible experience to visitors. It is really encouraging to see that the results show that people do wish to return and that they are making considered decisions with everybody’s wellbeing in mind. It’s positive news for businesses, the communities they are based in and also for all of the visitors who want to enjoy Cumbria again.”