Cumbria counts the cost of Covid-19

countryside in Cumbria
Near Ambleside, Cumbria. Photo by George Hiles.

A new survey by Cumbria Tourism has found that by the end of May, the Coronavirus pandemic will have cost the county’s tourism industry £1.45bn in revenue – almost half of tourism-related income for the county for the year.

The survey of hundreds of tourism businesses in all six of the county’s districts has found that 91% have received cancellations for May, June and July and into August.

According to Cumbria Tourism’s last full year of data, the county’s visitor economy contributes £3bn to the county annually, while supporting 65,000 jobs, equivalent to 26% of Cumbria’s working age population.

Cumbria Tourism’s President, Eric Robson, says, ‘The impact has been catastrophic for our tourism industry. Just coming out of winter, this crisis has come at the worst possible time when businesses were gearing-up to make money during the traditionally busier spring and summer seasons. That money is what would see them survive the quieter autumn and winter months.

‘Even if some businesses can survive in the short term, grants and loans are just covering essential costs, they are not replacing profits. Some businesses will survive for long enough to re-open – but will they manage to get through the following nine or ten months into the 2021 visitor season?

‘While nobody expects there to be an immediate bounce-back in terms of visitor numbers when lockdown finally ends, there is likely to be a phased approach to removing lockdown. This, combined with the changes in many households’ financial circumstances and changed visitor behaviour, is likely to compound the problem.’

Just during April this year, Cumbria Tourism has taken more than 1,500 enquiries from businesses seeking advice and information on how to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.