cumbrian MPs launch cumbrian tourism and business APG

Following the success of ‘Cumbria Day’ held in Westminster, the six Cumbrian MPs – Rory Stewart MP, Tim Farron MP, John Stevenson MP, John Woodcock MP, Sir Tony Cunningham MP and Jamie Reed MP – have launched an ‘All Party Group’ (APG) focusing on Cumbrian tourism and business.

The APG will be non-party political in nature with the six MPs standing as joint chairs, and it is to be open to associate members as well to ensure a broad base of support and local expertise. Its remit will be to ensure issues closely affecting Cumbrian tourism and business are better represented within Westminster, and the group aims to focus its energy on a few specific issues relevant to the county’s tourism and business sectors, where the APG may be able to exert influence.

Following discussion among the MPs and other key representatives from the industry present at the inaugural meeting, three issues were put forward as being particularly important. The first was to raise the profile of Cumbrian tourism through a more targeted marketing campaign. The group will seek to hold organisations like Visit Britain to account in the promotion of the region to international markets – where huge scope exists to expand – and make better use of the international reputation of the Lake District as an ‘attack brand’ upon which to boost tourism and business across the whole county.

The second issue raised was that of the region’s transport links. Whilst many people are attracted to Cumbria for its stunning landscape and sense of isolation, this in itself poses problems on how to get visitors and businesses to the area in the first place. It is hoped a more integrated approach, with a particular focus on improved rail and bus links may be able to address some of the problems.

The third issue upon which the group will focus will be advanced manufacturing in Cumbria. Manufacturing constitutes a significant part of the Cumbrian economy, but is often overlooked due to the attention placed on tourism and agriculture. Yet manufacturing comprises 20% of Carlisle’s economy, and is also particularly significant along the West Coast and South of Cumbria too. The APG aims to put together an event which will highlight the strength and depth of the manufacturing industry in Cumbria and make efforts to expand its export market.

Rory said:

“A Cumbrian tourism and business APG is an excellent way in which to bring together key individuals, outline a strategy and ensure that tangible improvements can be delivered for the Cumbrian tourism industry and Cumbrian businesses more widely. Following an incredibly successful ‘Cumbria Day’, we now have a platform upon which to capitalise from this extraordinary momentum, and ensure Cumbria continues to be the vibrant and successful place we all know it to be.

Tim Farron said:

“This APG offers the ability to make sure Cumbria is heard in Westminster. Today’s event – which is comfortably the best of its kind in Westminster so far – is a great start, but we now need to pick specific issues where we can add real value to make sure Cumbria gets a bigger slice of the cake.”

John Stevenson said:

“This group brings focus at Westminster to the interests of Cumbria. It covers tourism and business across the whole county and gives Cumbria’s six MPs the opportunity to work together for a common goal.”

John Woodcock said:

“I was so glad that this event successfully created a buzz around Westminster and gave local producers a platform to promote their superb wares on a national stage. All areas of the county – including Furness – have so much potential to create jobs by attracting visitors and I look forward to helping take this forward in the months ahead.”

Jamie Reed said:

“We saw the enthusiasm at Cumbria Day and we want to tap into this to help the region to flourish.  The Cumbrian APG will bring people who care passionately about our area together and we will work hard to continue to promote Cumbria as a place to visit and a place to do business.”

Tony Cunningham said:

“The launching of an APG on Cumbrian tourism and business was a fantastic way to conclude ‘Cumbria Day’. The energy on the day was incredible and very much typical of the dynamism found in businesses throughout the entire county. This APG must now work hard to do these businesses proud, and ensure we are getting Cumbria the very best deal.”

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