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Tourism boost for South Lakeland economy

12 June 2018

New research reveals that tourism had a £1.24 billion economic impact on South Lakeland last year – up nearly 4% on 2016.

The research by STEAM (Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor) is used by Cumbria Tourism to measure the volume and value of tourism across Cumbria to inform tourism policy and development.

Ourselves and other local authorities in Cumbria contribute towards the research, with the resulting figures used to help access funding and develop strategies around the visitor economy.

The latest figures show that South Lakeland contributed by far the highest share (43%) of Cumbria’s total tourism revenue of £2.9 billion in 2017.

Carlisle is next highest, with an 19% share worth £548 million.

The tourism sector provides 15,932 full-time jobs in South Lakeland, up 2.1% from 2016, accounting for nearly half of all tourism–related jobs in Cumbria. Many more people also find work in tourism on a part-time or seasonal basis.

Visitor numbers to South Lakeland are also up. In 2017, 18.35 million visitors came to the district, an increase of 1.8% on the previous year.

Of these, 84.7% (15.54 million) were day trippers; bringing in £598 million to the district’s economy. The other 15.3% (2.81 million) were staying visitors, contributing £626 million. The figures also show that there has been a larger increase in the bigger-spending staying visitors since 2016 (up 4.1%) compared to day trippers (up 1.4%).

Overall in Cumbria there were 47.28 million visitors in 2017, an increase of 4.8% on 2016.

Since 2009 tourism revenue in South Lakeland has increased by 37% and the number of visitors to the district has gone up by 16%.

The survey is the latest set of data to highlight the strength of South Lakeland’s economy and attractiveness as a place to live.

The recent Northern Powerhouse Liveability Index ranked South Lakeland as the most ‘liveable’ place in the north of England, top of 72 local authority areas in the region based on factors including availability and affordability of housing compared to average earnings, opportunity of employment, access to high-quality education and desirability of the location.

This followed figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing South Lakeland’s economy has become the fastest growing in Cumbria, out-performing neighbouring district authorities and overtaking the cities of Lancaster and Carlisle. 

Meanwhile South Lakeland has this year been listed as one of the North West’s top five ‘vibrant economies’ by accountants Grant Thornton.

The ‘Vibrant Economy Index’ scores areas on economic performance, taking into account factors such as prosperity, dynamism and opportunity, as well as health, wellbeing and happiness.

South Lakeland was ranked fifth overall in the North West, just ahead of Lancaster in sixth and Manchester in eighth positions, and was the only Cumbrian district to make the North West top 10.

Commenting on the latest tourism industry report, Councillor Graham Vincent, our portfolio holder for the Economy, said: “Once again we have a report that confirms how strong the South Lakeland economy is performing and what a vital role this district plays in the wider Cumbrian economy.

“The fact that nearly half of the entire £2.9 billion Cumbrian tourism revenue is generated in South Lakeland demonstrates what an economic powerhouse this area is, and it is gratifying to see that the long-term trends show both revenue and visitor numbers increasing in the district, supporting nearly 16,000 full-time jobs.

“Coupled with South Lakeland’s strong showing in other recent economic studies – including being ranked as Cumbria’s fastest growing economy and one of the most vibrant economies in the north west – we can see real progress on our key Council Plan commitment to help our towns and villages to thrive commercially and our mission to make South Lakeland the best place to live, work and explore.’’