Cumbrian tourism businesses have been encouraged to make use of subsidies that could help attract more international visitors.
Funding is available for projects such as brochure and website translation that could help attract tourists from Europe, China and other markets in a scheme run by the Department of International Trade.
The subsidy was one of the key suggestions highlighted at a forum for small hospitality businesses run by The Cumberland in conjunction with Cumbria Tourism at The Belsfield Hotel.
At the meeeting B&B and small hotel owners were encouraged to think about attracting more international visitors who are likely to spend more during their stay than UK visitors and will come at different times of the year to English school holidays.
Sue Clarke, sales and marketing manager with Cumbria Tourism, told the meeting that in 2017 international visitors made 252,171 trips to Cumbria, staying 1.55 million nights in the county and spending £99m.
Although the number of visitors had decreased compared to the previous year there had been a seven per cent increase in spend and five per cent jump in the number of nights stayed.
“Targetting international visitors is not something to be scared of and is something smaller businesses can do if you spend some time to understand what the different nationalities require,” she said.
Small points such as providing slippers for Japanese visitors or continental breakfasts for Germans and directing American tourists to ‘quaint’ English experiences would make all the difference, she added.
Jennifer Cormack, marketing director at Windermere Lake Cruises, told the meeting about the work of the English Lake District China Forum and provided some insights into how to work with Chinese tourists.
She also advised businesses to always get someone who knows and understands your business to do translations. Windermere Lake Cruises had used a translator who accidentally translated ‘cross lake shuttle’ into ‘flight’ which only became apparent when speaking to a Chinese tour operator who was amazed at how cheap it was to get a plane in the Lake District.
Grant Seaton, business lending manager for The Cumberland, said he was pleased that the 60 delegates had been able to get an insight into what they could do to attract more international visitors.
“This event came about through our new strategic partnership with Cumbria Tourism and gave some great insight into targetting certain nationalities and how that would fit into business planning.
“We didn’t really dwell on Brexit – the dreaded ‘B word’. We can’t control so it’s better to have a plan and adapt it when the picture becomes clearer.”
EU funding is available for projects like website and brochure translation or support for an overseas trip with the intention of creating jobs and increasing international sales. The Department of International Trade matches funds projects up to £1.5k – so you could use it to fund a project of up to £3k. Further information from Tiffany Solender who is part of the North West International Trade Team with the Department [email protected]