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Cumbria is far more dependent on tourism than most other parts of the UK. The county’s official destination organisation, Cumbria Tourism, reports that the county receives almost 43 million visitors annually, made up of 36.6 million day trippers and 6.3 million over night visitors. Between them, day and staying visitors combined to produce 57.1m tourist days. These visitors spend £2.62 billion and provide employment for over 35,000 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs. As many tourism jobs are actually part time, or seasonal, the total number of people in tourism jobs is estimated at 61,013, over 20% of the county’s total employment. It has long been acknowledged that investment in infrastructure and transport projects in Cumbria is critical to the wellbeing of the local economy and to the creation of a world class visitor destination to which we all aspire. In recent years, working in collaboration with partners including the Lake District National Park Authority and Cumbria County Council, Cumbria Tourism has played a vital role in delivering and supporting sustainable transport projects such as ‘GoLakes Travel’ and ‘See More’. The results have seen a significant increase in public transport usage over the last five years. Visitors’ use of boats, buses, rail and cycling has grown by 8%, which can be put down to improved infrastructure and greater awareness of these services. Travelling through the Lake District and other parts of Cumbria has become a visitor experience in its own right and continued investment and improvement is needed.
New low carbon car hire
Rail passengers arriving in Cumbria from around the UK now have an easy, eco-friendly way to get around with low carbon car hire at Carlisle, Penrith and Oxenholme railway stations. Three Toyota Yaris Hybrids with ultra-low CO2 emissions are available as part of a wider car sharing scheme as a result of a partnership between the ‘See More’ sustainable travel programme, Co-wheels car club, and Virgin Trains. The ‘pay as you drive’ vehicles enable visitors who join the car club to hop straight off a train and into the conveniently-placed vehicles for their onward journeys into the heart of the Lake District. The majority of users come from outside the region, with 71% based outside the North West and 36% from the London area (Jan-July 2015).
Battery powered sheep
A fleet of head-turning funky two-seater electric Renault ‘Twizys’ branded in a distinctively Cumbrian design are available for anyone to hire from a variety of locations including visitor attractions and accommodation providers. With no engines, exhausts or fuel systems, they can be driven at the push of a button and will allow visitors to explore the nooks and crannies of the Lake District in a silent, eco-friendly way. Each Twizy has been branded with its own distinctive sheep personality and named in traditional local dialect.
Explore on two wheels with the Lakes & Dales Loop
The Lake District continues to be an obvious choice for keen cyclists and this year we welcomed the launch of a 190 mile cycle route taking in two National Parks and some of the most scenic landscapes across Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales called the Lakes & Dales Loop.
From towering peaks and rolling green valleys to the hidden treasures of Morecambe Bay, the circular route will appeal to a range of cycling interests and abilities. The on-road route is a significantly revised and revitalised version of the former Cumbria Cycleway, which was opened in 1980 but, over the next 15 years, became too busy with traffic to be actively promoted as a recreational cycleway. The new Lakes and Dales Loop uses quieter lanes, following the boundary of the Lake District National Park on its north, west and south sides. It then completes theloop by linking the Lune and Eden Valleys to the east, and passing through the newly established part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The suggested start and finish point at Penrith is also easily accessible for cyclists travelling to Cumbria on the train via the West Coast mainline.