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First Westmorland and Furness Tourism Summit focuses on ‘Strengthening Partnerships for a more Sustainable Future'

Sustainability was the key theme embraced by businesses at the first Westmorland and FurnessCllr Jonathan Brook Tourism Summit, which was hosted by the Roundthorn Hotel in Penrith on Wednesday 22 November 2023. Following on from the former successful Eden Tourism Summits, this event is now scheduled to take place annually and will be hosted at different venues throughout the new local authority geographical area and open to all visitor economy businesses to attend.

‘In recognition of the importance of the visitor economy to the Westmorland and Furness area, I was delighted to speak at the very first Westmorland and Furness  Tourism Summit’ commented Cllr  Jonathan Brook, Leader of the Council. ‘Sustainability is one of our Council priorities leading to net zero and it was extremely encouraging to see our business so actively engaged in the process.’

Businesses came from across the Westmorland and Furness area to participate in the Summit. The councils Economic Development and Regeneration team, the organisers of the event, brought together a broad range of speakers who covered most business sectors within the visitor economy and offered practical ideas to help them improve their net zero journey.

Jim Walker, Chair Eden Tourism NetworkSpeakers included Lee Hillyard, A66 Northern Trans-Pennine Project Director, National Highways, Emma Moody, Lead Strategy Advisor, Recreation and Sustainable Transport, Lake District National Park and Sebastian Gudek representing the Everbright Hotel group who spoke about how to incorporate sustainable practice in operational areas of a hotel and how this yields substantial savings moving forward.

Sustainability grants and food waste were covered by Molly Hogg from Cumbria Action for Sustainability and Gemma Proctor, Sustainable Tourism Officer, Cumbria Tourism. A lively insight into how local businesses can come together and really make a difference was enthusiastically talked about by Daniel Holder and Michael Firth who are part of the Ullswater SITU group. A key part of the group’s work to develop the Ullswater Valley’s transport infrastructure has included trailing a new ‘hopper’ bus route to facilitate transport for visitors around the Ullswater Valley connecting a number of visitor economy businesses. Gill Haigh from Cumbria Tourism then outlined the new destination management plan for the whole of Cumbria and how businesses can play their part in influencing the finished document.

Delegates attending the 2023 Tourism Summit

Jim Walker as Chair of Eden Tourism Network chaired the Summit and commented “As we all become more familiar with the new geography of the County, inevitably it will take some time to generate new relationships and partnerships. This Tourism Summit for the whole of the Westmorland and Furness area was a great start to this new authority-wide process and I was encouraged by the strong attendance and calibre of delegates. The excellent presentations generated much informed debate and the whole event set a really high standard for the future.’’

Businesses will now have the opportunity to feedback on the event and say how they would like to engage with the team and progress development of the visitor economy in Westmorland and Furness.

A new Visitor Economy service plan is currently being developed by Westmorland and Furness Council’s Economic Development and Regeneration team. The plan will also demonstrate how the visitor economy is integral in attracting people to the area to live, work and thrive, the contribution and benefits to our local communities and how tourism enhances health and wellbeing. The service plan will link into other plans which will focus on Business Support, Development Delivery, Inward Investment, Skills and Employment and Town Centres.

For more information about visitor economy delivery and how to get involved as a business please contact