MORE international visitors than ever before are making a beeline to North West holiday hotspots, and Cumbria is set to cash in.

According to a Barclays’ Tourist Dynamics report, the amount of cash forked out by holidaymakers in the region is set to rise by 26 per cent to £1.2 billion by 2017.

Findings reveal more international visitors are heading to the area from China and the Middle East, and Cumbria is bracing itself for the influx.

Richard Greenwood, Operations Manager at Cumbria Tourism, said: “Over the next five to ten years we are expecting an increase in overseas visitors to the Lake District and Cumbria.

“Currently we receive about eight per cent of visitors to Cumbria from overseas markets with Australia, the United States, Germany, Netherlands and France proving to be the strongest.


“However Cumbria Tourism is hoping to lead a targeted programme of marketing and event activity, aimed at attracting visitors from emerging markets, particularly China, Japan and India as well as northern Europe.”

Spend by Chinese tourists alone in the region is expected to rise by 73 per cent to £52 million.

And while the recession led to a decline in tourists from the United States, American visitors were the highest spenders in 2013, contributing more than £94 million to the local economy, predicted to rise to £99 million.

Rapid growth in spend among tourists from emerging economies will be further boosted by the relaxing of visa restrictions in the UK. France currently sees ten times as many Chinese tourists than the UK, perhaps a result of the Schengen Visa, which allows Chinese nationals to do a grand tour of 22 European Union and three non-European Union countries, excluding the UK and Ireland.

Mr Greenwood added: “Our research shows that these markets are attracted by spectacular landscapes, strong heritage and distinctive local culture, and Cumbria has all of this and much more to offer.

“With the prospect of the Lake District becoming a World Heritage Site alongside Hadrian’s Wall in 2016/17 we can be confident in welcoming a strong international market to the area.”

Benefitting from this rise will be the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors, with both expected to ‘boom’.

Michael Hartig, managing director of Barclays Corporate Banking in the North West, said: “Opportunities abound for both retailers and the leisure industry to capitalise on these growing tourist numbers and spend.

“Businesses putting in the time and effort to understand their client demographic will carve out an advantage that will enable them to offer something more tailored for each nationality that visits our shores.”