On the back of his local and national campaigns to improve disabled access for visitors to the North Lakes –  focussing on improvements at Penrith railway station – Rory Stewart MP joined Eden Mencap members and staff on Ullswater on Friday to help launch English Tourism Week in Eden. The launch, organised by Eden District Council’s Tourism Team, highlighted the important contribution visitors with disabilities make to the area’s tourism industry, which annually welcomes over four million visitors who contribute £240 million to the local economy.

Rory joined the group from Penrith-based charity Eden Mencap to experience an outdoor activity session run by Eden Outdoor Adventures, rowing in a canoe with members and then accompanying them back to Pooley Bridge on board an Ullswater Steamer. He chatted with participants about the activity and the way in which it allowed them to experience the great outdoors. On arrival at Pooley Bridge Pier Rory joined other invited guests from the area’s tourism industry at a reception hosted by Eden District Council. During the reception Rory officially launched English Tourism Week in Eden and had the opportunity to meet representatives from national accessible tourism charity Tourism for All and Visit England.

Penrith and the Borders MP, Rory Stewart said: “Making tourism in Eden and indeed across the UK as accessible as possible for all is vitally important for our area’s tourism industry. In taking part in Eden Mencap’s group activity on Ullswater I have had the pleasure of seeing people with disabilities being able to take advantage of Eden’s great outdoors.

“This group’s enjoyment is the tip of an iceberg – nationally some £2billion is spent by disabled people during overnight visits and repeat visits to destinations and activities are a common occurrence. It is my sincere belief that this event, which launches English Tourism Week 2014 in Eden, demonstrates powerfully that Eden and the North Pennines is a destination open to everyone and that the area’s tourism operators are committed to providing the best experience for our disabled visitors. That is one reason why we have been campaigning so hard for disabled access at Penrith station.”

Eden District Council’s Tourism Development Officer Charlie Thornton, said: “Accessible tourism is an area with so much potential for growth and development and Eden tourism operators are already tapping into this valuable and important market.  EDC’s tourism team works hard to publicise organisations and companies that offer facilities for disabled visitors.  As an example, our website for visitors,, features a section on accessible accommodation which is well used by people booking a stay in the area.”

During English Tourism Week that runs from 29 March-6 April, tourism businesses are being encouraged to put forward a range of interesting offers aimed at visitors and local people. Following the launch event, Eden Outdoor Adventures is offering a special activity session rate of £80 for half a day and £100 for a full day for two people of any ability between 29 March-4 April. (For larger groups please add £10 per extra person).

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