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Ten Cumbrian accommodation providers from across the county have recently benefitted from funding provided through the Rural Northwest Tourism Connect Programme, enabling them to make improvements to their accommodation to the tune of over £1.4 million.
Rural Northwest Tourism Connect is an accommodation improvement programme, part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development as part of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) managed by Defra. The programme is designed to raise business performance and drive up design and accommodation standards in Cumbria’s serviced accommodation businesses.
The good news is that Cumbria Tourism is still accepting applications and we are particularly keen to hear from businesses on the Solway Coast, in Carlisle’s rural districts and the Eden Valley. However, if properties from other rural areas feel they have a sound project and would like to enquire, we would be interested in hearing from them. To find out more about the programme please visit: http://www.cumbriatourism.org/business-support/rural-nw-tourism-connect....
The scheme provides grants of between £25,000 and £60,000 to serviced accommodation businesses as part of a drive to boost the quality of visitor accommodation in the county. Businesses have been assisted through the use of professional designers, environmental or business planning advice, encouraging training, marketing and ICT development, bringing together a ‘whole business’ approach, with economic and environmental sustainability the underlying objective.
The programme has so far supported ten businesses, including hotels, guest houses and restaurants with rooms, with a good geographical spread from Gosforth in the Western Lake District to Newby Bridge in the south and Braithwaite in the north. All of the businesses carried out major capital works, which included bedroom and bathroom upgrades, dining room, lounge, reception and kitchen improvements.
The properties that have benefitted are:
Applegarth Villa, Windermere
Broadoaks Country House, Troutbeck
Cedar Manor Hotel, Windermere
Cottage in the Wood, Braithwaite
Gosforth Hall Inn, Gosforth
Hawksmoor Guest House, Windermere
Hill Crest Country Guest House, Newby Bridge
Irton Hall Guest Accommodation, Holmrook
Rosemount Guest House, Windermere
Woolpack Inn, Eskdale
A tremendous amount of work has been undertaken during the winter, creating additional business for local trades-people and safeguarding local jobs in addition to the direct benefits for the grant-aided businesses. In addition, all of these businesses have gone the extra mile by including eco measures as part of their scheme. All are working towards a Cumbria Business Environment Network (CBEN) or GTBS award, indeed some of the businesses have already realised this ambition, with one achieving a Gold award from Cumbria Business Environment Network.
In addition to creating jobs, improving occupancy, environmental performance and upgrading the overall accommodation offer of the assisted businesses, Rural Northwest Tourism Connect is having a significant spin-off effect with its impressive results inspiring further establishments to invest in their accommodation quality.
Ian Stephens, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, said: “The Rural Northwest Tourism Connect scheme is highly successful and has already helped a number of our accommodation providers to raise their standards. This is particularly important as constant improvement ensures that we, as the UK’s top visitor destination, continue to compete at a world class level. By investing we can ensure that we constantly improve and enhance the visitor experience and thereby maintain our position as one of the top destinations of choice in the UK.’’