Cumbria’s visitor economy generates £3 billion for the first time supporting 65,000 jobs

Simon Adams, Managing Director at Peill & Company reports that the latest economic figures published by Cumbria Tourism from the Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor (known as ‘STEAM’) has been published for 2018 and reveals that revenue of over £3 billion was generated in the tourism economy, the first time it has exceeded this level. Activity increased across the board, including an increase in visitor numbers, visitor spend, together with an extra 410,000 bed nights across the county. The figures relate to Cumbria as a whole, including the Lake District National Park, although the lion’s share of the income is derived from the National Park itself. The main beneficiary of the revenue is South Lakeland district, in the south of the county, which accounts for more than 44% of the total revenue.

A total of 65,000 jobs are supported by the visitor economy, which is more than 20% of total employment in the county as a whole, which is significant bearing in mind the numbers of jobs around the edge of the county in industry such as BAE Systems building submarines in Barrow in Furness, Glaxo SmithKline Pharmaceuticals in Ulverston, Pirelli Tyres in Carlisle, Sealy Beds in west Cumbria and Sellafield and the nuclear/energy industry along the west coast.

Simon Adams commented “A combination of the Lake District National Park being inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017, the weakness of the pound resulting in an influx of European and overseas visitors, and Brexit uncertainties leading to a large number of ‘staycations’ has seen visitor spend increase again within Cumbria. The Lake District is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the UK and is vital for Cumbria’s economy, and this feeds through to demand for property across several sectors including retail, hospitality, leisure, hotel and, increasingly, car parking.”

A total of 47 million people visited the Lake District and Cumbria during 2018 (40.4 million day trippers and 6.6 million overnight visitors) which, despite economic uncertainty in other sectors, has resulted in a significant improvement in visitor spend. This has, however, been coupled with significant increased costs for those businesses servicing the visitor economy, not least being business rates and employment costs. At present, the hospitality and retail sectors are bearing up well, but hospitality businesses are braced for potential headwinds depending on what happens in the UK political arena.