A new toolkit has been created to support tourism business in Cumbria as they grapple with the impact of coronavirus.

Cumbria Tourism has published a toolkit on its website that aims to answer key questions from businesses, as well as signpost to latest official Government guidance.

The Staveley-headquartered organisation says it is gathering evidence from businesses across the county’s lifeblood tourism and hospitality sector to “inform and lobby” the Government to help shape and emerge its policies in response to the fast-moving situation.

Cumbria Tourism has also published PR and marketing collateral to help businesses capitalise on an anticipated surge in staycations in light of growing restrictions on overseas travel, and encourage those living in Cumbria and north Lancashire to “rediscover what’s on their doorstep”.

Its managing director, Gill Haigh, said: “The Cumbria Tourism team is working hard to proactively support our members in these challenging times; it has put together an online business toolkit and marketing collateral to develop strategies to reduce the negative impact of this outbreak.

“In the meantime, we are forging ahead to ensure a significant and impactful full recovery marketing plan, ready to go at the appropriate time and to ensure we maximise visitor value for our businesses.

“A significant part of this work includes keeping travel and tourism trade contacts up to date with opportunities and reasons to ensure Cumbria is at the top of their list for future activity.”

Cumbria Tourism, along with scores of business from the county, was due to exhibit at the British Tourism and Travel Show (BTTS) at Birmingham’s NEC next week (March 25 and 26).

However, the organisers, Diversified Communications UK, have pushed back the event until June 11-12 due to mounting concerns over the spread of COVID-19 and “unprecedented media coverage” surrounding it.

Mrs Haigh said the decision was “obviously disappointing” but was “understandable under the circumstances”.

“We look forward to returning to BTTS to promote our world-class destination when the time is right to do so,” she added.

The tourism industry in Cumbria – worth £3 billion to the county’s economy – had already been hit hard due to coronavirus.

Operators have reported a massive slump in the number of visitors from China, now one of the industry’s main overseas markets.

However, there remains hope that the on-going rise in staycations, which had until recently been fuelled by the weak pound due to Brexit, may offer some salvation.

In an introduction to its business toolkit, Cumbria Tourism said: “As the county’s official destination management organisation, Cumbria Tourism is well versed in supporting the area through tough times, including foot and mouth disease and extreme flooding situations.”