Tourism bosses in Cumbria have given a cautious welcome to news the Government is rethinking its controversial post-Brexit immigration policy.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reportedly considering an Australian-style points system for workers from the European Union when Britain formally leaves the bloc.

Up until now the policy is centred on a proposed £30,000 minimum salary threshold for workers, leading to fears that Cumbria’s lifeblood tourism industry would be crippled.

Around a third of the county’s 65,000-strong tourism workforce is from outside the UK, with the overwhelming majority from Europe.

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAG) – which is guiding the Government on its new policy – is due to report back with its proposals next week ahead of the UK’s departure from the EU.

The MAG is also understood to have been asked to take a fresh look at the potential wage threshold, with a revised figure of £22,500 apparently floated.

However, this lower figure is still way above the average hospitality wage in Cumbria, which stands at £17,000.

The wage threshold approach has been met with fierce criticism from Cumbrian MPs, organisations including Cumbria Tourism, UK Inbound, Cumbria Chamber of Commerce and scores of businesses in an industry sector that in a recent survey cited recruitment and retention as its biggest headache.

Despite the Government rethink, Cumbria Tourism’s managing director Gill Haigh, still has reservations.

“Scrapping the arbitrary £30,000 rule would certainly be a step in the right direction, in terms of removing a significant barrier to recruitment from overseas,” she said.

“However, that’s not to say that it will be easier to recruit tourism and hospitality workers from overseas.

“This change will make no difference if the new points threshold is too high, so we will be encouraging the Government to develop a points-based system that genuinely encourages people with the skills that our tourism and hospitality sector needs.

“This is vitally important in an area like Cumbria where there is already a significant labour shortage.”

The Lake District Hotel Association has also been a critic of the Government’s policy approach on EU immigration so far.

Its chairman Joe Cobb said: “This issue is all the more pertinent in Cumbria, where there is already a major labour shortage.

“Cumbria’s population is less than half a million – and aging fast – meaning there is a limit on the number of eligible working age people available locally.

“In fact, hospitality has the highest level of job vacancies, the highest level of difficult-to-fill vacancies and the highest level of retention difficulties. We fully support Cumbria Tourism’s strong stance on this critical issue.”

Cumbria Tourism has written all Cumbria’s six MPs seeking their support on the points threshold issue as part of its continued efforts to lobby the Government.

Its rethink comes just days after Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron secured a meeting with business minister Kelly Tolhurst to discuss a policy he branded as “awful”.