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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

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Cash blow for West Cumbria tourism

THE West Cumbrian tourism industry is reeling after being struck a “devastating” funding blow.

Britain’s Energy Coast (BEC) has announced that, from April, it will no longer fund West Cumbria Tourism (WCT) – the organisation dedicated to promoting the area to visitors and businesses.

After learning that it is losing the grant (which has been worth £430,000 since 2011), WCT’s board was meeting yesterday (Wednesday) to decide its future.

Chair Eric Robson says WCT is “disappointed and baffled” by BEC’s decision which, its chief executive Steve Szostak says, is due to its “new strategic direction” that will see it support more nuclear-related projects.

Since 2011, WCT has been a partnership of Cumbria Tourism and BEC. BEC’s grant, which allowed WCT to attract other public and private sector funding, has helped WCT to “create and develop high-profile marketing and PR initiatives” for the area. This has included a new website, social media activity, business training courses and supporting international events such as the Tour of Britain and the Rugby League World Cup.

Mr Robson said: “Tourism and the visitor economy is worth £490million per year and supports 7,500 jobs in West Cumbria and these figures have remained stable over the last 10 years. WCT has helped to build awareness of West Cumbria as a place to visit and has made great progress in raising the quality of the visitor accommodation, attractions and events programme.

“WCT is very disappointed and somewhat baffled by BEC’s decision. Developing community pride and a sense of place is one of the many achievements of WCT and, as far as we are aware, these objectives remain key in BECs Economic Blueprint, which makes the decision even more inexplicable.

“Only by giving the visitor economy the prominence it deserves can a truly balanced economy be achieved. No other sector can deliver an integrated programme to attract people to visit, live, work and be educated in the county, especially in West Cumbria.”

BEC’s decision to cease funding was made by its board last week. Mr Szostak said: “The decision was made in light of a new strategic direction which will see BEC support fewer, bigger projects that are more geared towards establishing and promoting West Cumbria as a centre of nuclear excellence.

“The board agreed that the promotion of tourism is no longer a priority for its funding, however BEC will continue to provide tourism businesses with support as part of its support programme, which is open to all businesses but is concentrated on SMEs.”

Hotelier Harry Berger, who owns The Woolpack and Stanley House and is a WCT board member, said: “This short-sighted decision will have a devastating impact on tourism on the west coast.

“WCT promotes the area for people to live, work and holiday – and our economy is heavily reliant on tourism.

“BEC should be supporting the whole ‘energy coast’ of West Cumbria; it’s more than just nuclear.”

Have your say

I was wondering how the gov and its puppets up in W Cumbria were going to get round the problem of the underground nuke waste dump lack of site and here it is - cut funding to tourist industry, run the area down even more and blah the nuke industry as being amazing wonderful saviour to all. Dirty sneaky canniving indeed to get the dump in the Lakes and then the new build can go ahead - is it 10 more NPS planned? (for starters)
Can almost see them all plotting this latest number. Nuke power needs axing once and for all.

Posted by Jan on 3 March 2014 at 21:18

The "branding" excercise over the Geological dump showed that nuclear is a huge disaster for tourism and farming. Strong voices in tourism and farming would be in a position to oppose new nuclear developments from which they stand to lose their livelihoods(and so much more). Undermine Tourism and Farming and the nuclear industry has the field to itself....simples... and shockingly brutal. Like the poor deer at Sellafield we are being "lamped" into a situation From which there is no escape.

Posted by marianne on 3 March 2014 at 14:09

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