BUSINESS is booming in Cumbria, as the tourism sector hit a record £3bn last year.

The boost to the county’s economy mean the tourism sector also supported 65,000 jobs - 20 per cent of the total employment in Cumbria.

The statistics come from the Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor, commonly known as ‘STEAM’.

The annual assessment has taken place for the past 20 years and is produced on behalf of a partnership led by Cumbria Tourism and supported by Cumbria’s district councils, Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the Lake District National Park Authority

The latest STEAM analysis concentrates on Cumbria’s overall tourism performance for 2018 and reveals a 3.7 per cent increase in the value of tourism compared to the previous year.

The biggest increases in value were in Eden (+8.6 per cent), South Lakeland (+5.6 per cent), Barrow (+4.2 per cent) and Copeland (+4.1 per cent).

South Lakeland district accounts for the greatest share of £3bn tourism revenue at 44 per cent, followed by Carlisle with 18 per cent and Allerdale with 16 per cent.

In line with Cumbria Tourism’s long-term strategy, the county also saw an increase in

overnight stays in 2018, with an extra 410,000 bed nights across Cumbria.

This supports the increased revenue and significantly bucks the national trend.

At the same time, there was a small drop in day visitors to Cumbria of -0.7 per cent.

Gill Haigh, managing director of Cumbria Tourism, said: “This is the sixth year of growth for the value of the county’s tourism industry, and the new £3bn figure underlines the importance of the sector to our economy.

“It also demonstrates the success of Cumbria Tourism’s continuing ‘attract and disperse’ policy, which draws on the strength of the Lake District brand to attract staying visitors who also want to discover and explore the wider county.

“The visitor economy brings a range of benefits to the whole of Cumbria and helps make the county not only a great place to visit, but also a great place to live and work.

“We believe that by working together there are significant opportunities to further grow the value of tourism.”

She added: “That said, we are conscious these are testing times for Cumbria’s tourism sector.

“Our recent Business Performance Survey highlights continued rising costs for tourism businesses, uncertainties around Brexit and reduced consumer spending.

“As an industry, joined-up investment, co-ordination and partnership working is vital to ensure our world-class destination continues to sustain jobs and bring all year round benefits in the county as a whole.”