THE FIGURES are finally in and they support what many suspected – last year’s hot summer was a tourism record-breaker.
Lured by the warm summer, visitor numbers were up 4.5 per cent and tourism spend spiked by eight per cent, according to new statistics.
It meant an estimated 40 million visitors packing their cases for Cumbria – 34m day-trippers and 5.4 m overnighters.
They spent a combined £2.2 billion in Cumbria and provided work for 56,410 people.
The tourism sector now represents around 19 per cent of the county’s total employment, said Cumbria Tourism.
It was just the kind of bounce tourism leaders hoped for after a washout summer in 2012.
Richard Greenwood, for Cumbria Tourism, said: “We are delighted to see that the tourism industry in the Lake District and Cumbria has bounced back strongly.
“It plays such a key role in the county’s economy, employs nearly 20 per cent of the workforce and sustains many shops and services enjoyed by residents. We cannot afford to see it decline.”
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He added: “Cumbria’s strong performance was helped by the good summer but is also the result of hard work and investment from tourism operators.
“This makes sure that we compete on quality and price with destinations across the UK and over-seas.”
Cumbria’s visitor economy has now grown by more than 50 per cent over the last 12 years.
The area’s performance also seems to have bucked trends nationally. It saw a six per cent increase in overseas visitors during a year when domestic overnight trips and day visits dropped by three per cent and seven per cent respectively.
Cumbria Tourism said the strong recovery could also be attributed to effective marketing and PR campaigns, investment, the economic upturn and the much hotter weather.
As for 2014, bosses said things were going well, with businesses reporting ‘healthy occupancy in hotels, caravan parks and self-catering accommodation’ as well as strong attendance figures at attractions and events.
David Williams, chief executive of Impact International – which owns the Lake District Country Hotels Group – said: “We’ve had a really positive 12 months across all three of our hotels.
“Across the group, we’ve seen a steady influx of guests from neighbouring regions and beyond.”