STAYCATIONS are proving more popular following the coronavirus pandemic after a surge in bookings for tourists heading to the Lake District.

However, Cumbria Tourism believe these numbers are still lower than previous years, so stressed there was still a long road ahead to recovery for consumer confidence and the industry as a whole.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism Gill Haigh said: “Covid-19 has cost Cumbria’s tourism economy £1.6 billion so far this year, that’s more than half the total annual value.

“We have a very long road to recovery lying ahead for hundreds of businesses and more than 65,000 residents employed in the crucial sector.

“While some providers have reported initial positive forward booking numbers in recent days, bookings overall remain much lower than previous years for this time and our survey findings suggest that visitor confidence will take time to recover.

“We must remember too that all these businesses have lost half a year of income and bookings still lag behind last year.

“Businesses are also facing additional costs of opening under Covid-19 restrictions alongside reduced income as numbers are restricted.

“I really hope our local communities will show their support for the industry and help protect jobs and communities. Cumbria Tourism will continue to lobby hard for a crucial package of measures from the government to support the sector, whilst encouraging potential visitors to support our economy by planning-ahead, booking directly, and being prepared to follow all government guidelines to ensure wellbeing remains the top priority as part of their overall experience.”

Meanwhile, communities that depend on tourism will soon receive a major boost from a new £10million Kick-starting Tourism Package, the Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government Simon Clarke MP announced yesterday.