A government move to formally recognise the importance of tourism to the rural economy has been welcomed by Cumbria Tourism.

A new report published by the Lords Select Committee on the Rural Economy is recommending the creation of a rural strategy.

It also says that the new Tourism Sector Deal has the potential to provide more consistent and systematic support to the tourism sector.

Cumbria Tourism’s managing director Gill Haigh was invited to give evidence at Westminster last autumn, alongside a panel of other experts on tourism and rural heritage issues.

It was part of a programme of public hearings the Lords Select Committee ran to learn more about the key issues and challenges relating to the rural economy.

Mrs Haigh's session focused on the contribution of tourism to local economies and communities in areas such as Cumbria.

Skills, employment and government policy around tourism featured in the session, as well as the potential impact of Brexit and infrastructure and planning issues.

The hearing also explored the support and advice available to rural tourism and heritage businesses, alongside the potential opportunities within the Government’s plans for local industrial strategies to strengthen the tourism industry in the UK.

Mrs Haigh said: “As one of the largest destination management organisations in the UK, lobbying national decision-makers is a core part of the activity we undertake on behalf of our tourism member businesses and we are delighted to see that the Government is now taking positive action to prioritise the rural economy.

“We need to keep the pressure up at the highest level to ensure Cumbria is in the mix and we can collectively make the most of new opportunities, particularly around the new Tourism Sector Deal.”