Concerns have been raised that a successful bid by to become a Government-backed Tourism Zone could mean a further hike in visitor numbers to the Lake District.

At a full meeting of the Lake District National Park Authority, Michael Carter, told fellow members and authority directors that he had reservations over attracting more visitors to the region.

Cumbria Tourism, Cumbria County Council, Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership and the Lake District National Park have confirmed that they are working on a bid to secure the new status, unveiled as part of the Government’s new Tourism Sector Deal.

Business secretary Greg Clark has said Tourism Zones would provide a direct boost to holiday destinations by helping to create new jobs and improve transport connections, with initiatives also including support for product and promotion development, mentoring for businesses and digital skills training.

Nationally, the Government hopes the zones – along with other measures in the sector deal – will help to double the value of the tourism industry to £268 billion and create 70,000 jobs, bringing the overall workforce to 3.8 million.

In Cumbria, the hope is that Tourism Zone status would further bolster the county’s £3bn a year industry, create new career opportunities and strengthen visitor numbers – which in 2018 stood at 47 million visitors.

Mr Carter, of Skelwith Bridge, said: “If that doubling means a doubling of tourism numbers in the Lake District, we would have a major challenge.”

Cllr Jim Bland, of Underbarrow, disagreed and said: “The visitor problem is a problem we can live with. We should focus on problems we have got, not ones we haven’t.”

Steve Ratcliffe, director of sustainable development at the LDNPA, said a successful action zone bid would not mean numbers doubling in the Lakes – but could prove valuable in attracting and dispersing tourists to areas where there had been ‘market failure’ in tourism.

“We want to spread the benefits of tourism to other areas such as the West Coast, Eden, Carlisle, and Solway,” he said.

The volume of visitors coming to the Lake District has reared its head again this year after a busy sun-kissed Easter period and many operators reporting a rise in numbers following the region’s designation as a World Heritage Site.

Cumbria Tourism managing director Gill Haigh has previously said that the strategic aim is to increase the value visitors to the county’s economy and not necessarily the number of visitors, with an ambition to broaden the horizons of tourists by luring them to areas such as Furness and Copeland, that are desperate to increase their market share.

National tourism organisation Visit Britain and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, have indicated ‘strong support’ for a bid from Cumbria, the meeting was told.

And organisations in the county are also confident that their bid to become one of five Tourism Zones in the UK will be successful.

Cumbria Tourism managing director Gill Haigh and chair of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership’s Visitor Economy Sector Panel, Nigel Wilkinson, have both told in-Cumbria that the county is an ideal location for the status.

However, competition is set to be fierce, with neighbouring Northumberland confirming it was also throwing its hat into the ring as part of a wider bid from the North of Tyne Combined Authority.

Meanwhile, the LDNPA meeting also heard that plans by the Friends of the Lake District to extend the national park area by 60 square miles have been raised with members of the House of Lords.

The landscape charity is seeking to include places such as Grange-over-Sands, Allithwaite, Penny Bridge, Foxfield, Kirkby-in-Furness, The Green and Kirksanton.

Peter Allen MBE, the deputy chairman of the LDNPA, said there was a ‘substantial list’ of applications from national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty to have their areas extended.