Tourism businesses from across Cumbria are jetting to India in a bid to lure more visitors from one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

A group of 12 companies headed by Cumbria Tourism – which has 2,500 members – are flying to Mumbai and Delhi to showcase what the county has to offer as part of a trade mission arranged by promotional body VisitBritain.

The group will take part on a series of face-to-face meetings, workshops and networking events with around 300 influential Indian travel agents and tour operators during the visit, which takes place between January 13 and 16.

The businesses hail from the English Lake District India Forum, which was recently established by Cumbria Tourism to target the fast-growing market.

The group – which accounts for 40 per cent of the UK delegation includes – Armathwaite Hall Hotel & Spa; Gilpin Hotel & Lake House; Langdale Hotel; Lake District Country Hotels; Grasmere Gingerbread; Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway; Mountain Goat Tours and Lindeth Howe Hotel; Pennington Hotels and Muncaster Castle; Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway; The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction; Ullswater 'Steamers' and Windermere Lake Cruises.

Cumbria Tourism’s sales and marketing executive Francine Bult has high hopes the mission will ensure Cumbria and the Lake District become a firm fixture on the itineraries of Indian operators.

“India is a region of significant growth and offers some incredible opportunities to help grow our £3 billion visitor economy, supporting all year-round tourism and dispersing people to all areas of the county,” she said.

“Cumbria Tourism’s renewed India-focus is a key international marketing priority and we are excited to be working with so many like-minded businesses to help forge even stronger links with overseas trade contacts and promote our region to potential visitors from the Indian sub-continent.”

The visit marks the start of a number of planned activities for the English Lake District India Forum during the year.

Plans are afoot for a video to be produced showcasing the county to the Indian travel trade, targeted online activities and continued meetings with key Indian contacts in the travel trade.

The forum follows the same format as other initiatives to attract more visitors from Japan and China.

Cumbria continues to attract large numbers of visitors from Japan given the country’s fondness for children’s writer Beatrix Potter.

Interest from China continues to grow, in no small part due to flights between major Chinese cities and Manchester Airport.

The Lake District China Forum reported a “massive” 286 per cent increase in independent travellers and larger groups from the economic powerhouse following the start of flights to and from Beijing in 2016.

And tourism bosses are hopeful of a further boost when direct flights commence to Shanghai – ranked as among the world’s top five financial centres – at the end of March.