CONCERNS have been raised about doubling the number of visitors to the Lake District, a meeting has heard.

Lake District National Park directors told a meeting that a new Government-backed tourism action zone aims to grow the industry in the county.

However, national park member Michael Carter, of Skelwith Bridge, said he was unsure about luring more tourists to the national park.

The Government recently announced plans to ‘double’ tourism nationally and establish five action zones across the country, with Cumbria set to make a bid.

Mr Carter told the national park authority: “If that doubling means a doubling of tourism numbers in the Lake District, we would have a major challenge.”

Cllr Jim Bland, of Underbarrow, disagreed and said: “The visitor problem is a problem we can live with. We should focus on problems we have got, not ones we haven’t.”

Steve Ratcliffe, director of sustainable development at the LDNPA, said a successful action zone bid would not mean numbers doubling in the  Lakes.

Mr Ratcliffe said the zone would be for Cumbria as a whole with the aim of attracting and dispersing visitors to places where there had been ‘market failure’ in tourism.

Mr Ratcliffe said: “We want to spread the benefits of tourism to other areas such as the West Coast, Eden, Carlisle, and Solway.”

Cllr Chris Hogg, of Kendal, said it was a chance to develop tourism in Barrow, the West Coast and Carlisle.

National tourism organisation Visit Britain and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, have indicated ‘strong support’ for a bid from Cumbria.

Overall, the Government wants to see Britain become the most successful tourism destination in western Europe.

It would involve the sector doubling to £268 billion, creating 70,000 jobs and an overall workforce of 3.8 million.

The Government has pledged to work with local enterprise partnerships to build tourism, extend the season, fix local transport problems and tackle barriers to growth.

The meeting heard that plans by the Friends of the Lake District to extend the national park area by 60 square miles have been raised with members of the House of Lords.

The landscape charity is seeking to include places such as Grange-over-Sands, Allithwaite, Penny Bridge, Foxfield, Kirkby-in-Furness, The Green and Kirksanton.

Peter Allen MBE, the deputy chairman of the LDNPA, said there was a ‘substantial list’ of applications from national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty to have their areas extended.