The first ever tourism summit focused on Copeland will take place next week with businesses leaders pledging to help secure a bigger slice of the county’s £2.9 billion visitor economy for the district.

The Copeland Tourism Summit features several high-profile speakers who will showcase the “outstanding” opportunities for the sector and as well as make commitments towards increasing tourism in the borough.

They include Gill Haigh, managing director of Cumbria Tourism; Copeland MP Trudy Harrison MP; Steve Ratcliffe, director of sustainable development at the Lake District National Park Authority, Peter Frost-Pennington, director of Muncaster Castle, Copeland Council executive director Julie Betteridge.

The summit – which takes place at St Bees Management Centre on Friday, February 15 – will be hosted by Copeland mayor Mike Starkie.

The summit comes as Copeland Council maps out a strategy to claim a bigger share of the £2.9bn that is generated by the tourism sector in Cumbria, primarily focused in and around the Lake District National Park.

It has already invested £75,000 in a new tourist information centre at The Beacon on Whitehaven’s harbourside, and is eyeing up further “satellite” information centres in other locations across the borough.

Mr Starkie said: “There is a huge opportunity for Copeland to enjoy a greater share of the tourism industry, and we want to encourage as many people as possible to explore our outstanding tourism offer.

“Complemented by our soon-to-be-opened Tourist Information Hub for Copeland, the summit will bring partners together to focus attention on our borough, our attractions and our hospitality industry to jointly highlight Copeland as the jewel in the area’s crown.”

Large sections of the Lake District National Park – which was granted World Heritage Site status back in 2017 – lies in Copeland, including the picturesque village of Ravenglass and Britain’s favourite view, Wastwater. 

Tourism leaders in Cumbria have instigated a number of initiatives over the years with the aim of encouraging visitors to visit quieter parts of the Lake District and neighbouring areas – to help spread the economic benefits and alleviate pressure on “honeypot” areas around the most popular lakes.

Gill Haigh, managing director of Cumbria Tourism said that Copeland was proving to be increasingly popular with visitors, not just from the UK but also overseas.

“Our most recent analysis confirms a total of 3.62 million annual visitors visited the borough in 2017 – up 4.6 per cent on the previous year,” she said.

“This reflects Cumbria Tourism’s continuing ‘attract and disperse’ policy, utilising the strength of the Lake District brand to draw people in and encouraging them to discover and explore the exceptional offer of the wider county.”

“I’m looking forward to speaking at the Summit and building on this momentum to maximise the benefits of tourism for the local economy.”