Copeland Council tells us why the future’s bright for the borough’s tourism industry.
A few months ago we appointed Katie Read to the newly-created role of Tourism Development officer. Katie works closely with other agencies, in particular Cumbria Tourism, to support tourism businesses and move Copeland’s tourism agenda forward.
During the COVID crisis, she’s been a point of support for the industry, signposting people to financial and business support, providing regular newsletters and leading the conversation on how the industry could first protect, and now, recover.
Katie said: “As tourism businesses begin to navigate their way through the effects of the pandemic, there is optimism. Research by Cumbria Tourism indicates visitors want to explore parts of Cumbria they have not visited before – that’s a perfect opportunity for Copeland.
“After lockdown, people are looking to spend time in fresh, open spaces, where social distancing is easier.”
There’s more good news in the form of the Connecting Cumbria’s Hidden Coast programme, funded by more than £1m from the Government’s Coastal Communities Fund and £600,000 from Sellafield Ltd.
Planned improvements include a Coastal Challenge Event next year, several new cycle and footpath routes and a world-class coastal art trail.
Most recently, a new beach café at Silecroft has moved a step closer after the project was granted planning permission. It is hoped the new café could be up and running in 2021.
The Beacon Museum is undergoing an upgrade to provide digital interactive exhibits and virtual reality experiences. The team is looking forward to welcoming visitors from near and far as soon as they can.
We also recently unveiled our ambitious £25m vision for Whitehaven, with a strong tourism element. A harbourside seafood restaurant, hotel and cycle centre feature, alongside new space for small, artisan producers, and an opening up of the town centre to link it more closely to the popular harbour. We hope to find out in the autumn whether our bid has been successful.
We want people to visit as much of the borough as possible, so we are preparing large-scale funding bids for Millom and Cleator Moor too – we will have more detail on those in the coming months.
We are in the process of creating a series of inspiring itineraries for visitors too – a perfect starting point for visitors who are not quite sure where to begin.
We know businesses are working really hard to make sure people can come back safely to this hidden gem of an area. And as we enter the summer season, 98 per cent of potential visitors have said they want to help locals stay safe by strictly adhering to hygiene rules during their visit.
Recently, mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington spoke of his love for this area:
“It is a fascinating area for walking, while for climbing it is absolutely superb. Just beautiful. The coastline is just as interesting as the lakes and fells thanks to its magnificent sandstone cliffs, yet another wonderful area to visit in its own right. Cycling around the Western Lakes is absolutely superb, and when you get to my age, an electric bike is really, really useful! There are just so many wonderful things to see and it is a place I love. Yes, it takes a bit more effort to get there, but it’s well worth the trip and I can’t recommend it highly enough.”
We couldn’t agree more.