CUMBRIA Tourism has seen a marked increase in visitors looking for sustainable travel options and holiday experiences.

This motivation is particularly strong in the younger ‘millennial’ visitor demographic but is a growing trend for all visitors driven by increasing public awareness of climate and environmental issues.

From luxury eco-hotels, to glamping off-grid, locally sourced produce in cafes, restaurants and shops, to the actual methods of travel using cycle routes, bus and train, organisations and individuals across Cumbria are working hard together to raise the bar and keep the momentum going. Recent campaigns by Cumbria Tourism have focused on highlighting sustainable travel in the media, including national newspapers, magazines and social media influencers, and the Lake District National Park is committed to making the park carbon neutral.

Across the county, there are many tourism businesses already showcasing green practices across their activities. Kendal based, Lake District Estates have achieved Gold David Bellamy Conservation Award at all four of their Lake District holiday parks, putting in place measures to reduce energy use and making the parks havens for native wildlife. At their sister heritage attractions Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway and Ullswater ‘Steamers’ a raft of green measures are in place including carbon emission reduction initiatives, removing single use plastics in the cafes, joining the ‘Refill’ water scheme to encourage visitors and walkers to top up their own reusable bottles with a free water from a tap on site and encouraging visitor giving to conservation projects via the Lake District Foundation, plus piloting the new contactless donation points.

The Quiet Site, camping and holiday park in Ullswater recently shared their sustainable journey recently at an Eden Tourism Summit discussing the practical measures they have implemented over the years to continue to improve their offer and reduce their carbon footprint. Innovations include opening Britain’s first Zero Waste shop on a Holiday Park. 2019 saw these endeavours acknowledged with two eco-awards Green Tourism Gold award holder for the 6th consecutive year and Cumbria Tourism Awards: Ethical, Responsible & Sustainable Winner.

Helping business take their first steps on their green journey is locally based organisation CBEN Partnerships who work with a wide range of tourism businesses including the Daffodil Hotel in Grasmere, Cedar Manor in Windermere, Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, Ullswater ‘Steamers’ and Langdale Hotel & Spa on improving their eco-credentials through consultancy and their Green at Heart Awards scheme.

Laura Short from CBEN Partnership is confident that this new decade heralds new opportunities for tourism businesses to go green, commenting ‘the wildfires in Australia may be happening on the other side of the world, but they signify the wider impact of human activity on our ecosystem. It can seem distant or overwhelming in scale, making us feel powerless to make a difference, but there are many measures we can put in place as businesses to help protect our environment closer to home.’

Not only does going green help attract visitors but she goes on to comment on the financial benefits this has for businesses, ‘each year the Green at Heart scheme helps businesses achieve savings collectively of tens of thousands of pounds through improving energy efficiency, cutting waste, improving transport planning and reducing vehicle journeys by electronic communications.’

With the new decade just beginning there has never been a better time for tourism businesses to go eco-friendly to support a greener future for all and help protect the outstanding and varied environment that Cumbria offers both visitors and residents.