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Cumbria’s top tourism chief speaks at Keswick Convention

Keswick Convention has helped “power up’’ the local economy following a difficult year for the county, says Cumbria’s top tourism chief.

The annual event – cancelled last year due to Covid – will have attracted thousands of visitors onto its Pencil Factory site when it ends on Friday.

Jim Walker, chairman of Cumbria Tourism Board, spoke at the opening night of Week 3 of the Convention. He praised the work of Keswick Ministries which runs the event, saying it was a ‘’shining example’’ of what could be achieved by an organisation under strict Covid restrictions.

“It has been a difficult time for the whole county, and the events industry over the past 18 months,’’ he said. “The Convention is a fantastic symbol and shining example of what hard work and determination can do at a time when people are still very cautious.

“It is helping to power up the local economy. We really appreciate all the effort that has been put in to make the event such a great success.’’

Jim said Cumbria had seen its tourism revenue halved from £3b due to the pandemic.

“We would ask tourists to be kind to the Cumbrian environment and their communities and to plan ahead on their visits when capacity may be limited,’’ he added.

“There are still big issues within local tourism, including labour supply, but we hope that people will travel to us throughout summer, or extend their visits into September.’’

David Sawday, Chief Operating Officer at Keswick Ministries, said: “We are very grateful for the kind and encouraging words from Jim. It has been a very tough year for the region so we are glad that it has been possible to stage the Convention. We thank all those who has been involved in helping to organise and run this year’s event, speakers, volunteers, contractors and staff.

“The response from visitors has been wonderful who tell us how delighted they are to attend the Convention in Keswick or online. After such a difficult 18 months, the event is a credit to all those involved, and to the visitors who supported us and followed the sites Covid procedures.”

Keswick Ministries