Cumbria Tourism is calling for funding to guarantee workers' salaries in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement, Gill Haigh, managing director of Cumbria Tourism, said the effects of the virus followed a "poor 2019" and "even poorer winter", due to the combined effects of repeated storms and the impact of coronavirus since January.

She said: "At Cumbria Tourism we are being inundated with enquiries from business owners who are fearful for the survival of their business, worried about supporting their staff and the wider impact this will have on the community.

"As yet, we are unable to provide the detailed information businesses are asking us for.

"To give our members the support we know they urgently need this level of detail must be made available by Government, and soon."

She said Cumbria Tourism is backing a call by UKHospitality - which presents the sector nationally - to produce "an immediate package of employment support".

UKHospitality estimates that up to 250,000 jobs have already been lost across the hospitality sector in the past two weeks, with majority of these cuts coming in the past few days.

Gill said: "We are supporting – and have urged our members to support - UK Hospitality’s call on the Government because in a service industry like ours, wages are the bulk of costs. "Businesses are already laying off staff as they feel they have no choice.

"A guarantee of Government funding salaries would change that immediately.

"In Cumbria we employ 65,000 people in tourism sector and without this key industry, life for this remote rural community would be very different.

"We are already seeing many people being laid off and thousands more are at risk without urgent support."

She added the money was necessary to enable workers to "survive this challenging time" and to allow companies to keep employing them so they are "energised and available when this crisis passes".

Cumbria Tourism is working with organisations including VisitBritain the Federation of Small Businesses and Cumbria Chamber of Commerce to pass the feedback and information it is gathering from the sector in Cumbria to the Government.

"The research we are doing is providing pivotal evidence demonstrating the impact this situation is having on the tourism industry and the devastation it will cause, if the essential financial support from the Government is not put in place, and put in place fast," said Gill.

Yesterday Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said one million jobs were on the line in the sector.

She said: "Job cuts are extraordinarily deep and they are happening now – today and tomorrow, and are snowballing.

"Companies are having to make the very difficult decisions now and with many hospitality and leisure businesses now having to choose to close or massively reduce their operations, there is little chance of saving many jobs without far-reaching help.

"What the sector urgently needs is a package of support and funding to keep people in employment."