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A group of Lake District businesses has been nominated for a national award for its innovative approaches in attracting more Chinese visitors to Cumbria.

The English Lake District China Forum is in the running for VisitEngland innovation in tourism award, for its application of collective tourism industry expertise to raise awareness of the English Lake District.

A major milestone for the forum has been the attainment of over 10,000 followers on Weibo, China’s biggest social media network, which incorporates all the major features of social media channels like twitter, Instagram  and YouTube.

Thanks in part to a £30,000 investment from Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, the forum has also been able to forge a stronger relationship with Marketing Manchester to enable the Lake District to become a ‘Destination Partner’ in promotional campaigns targeted at China, notably with Hainan Airlines.

Other innovations include film footage taken from drones to showcase the Lake District’s stunning scenery, and the production of a range of translated marketing materials.

English Lake District China Forum chair Jennifer Cormack from Windermere Lake Cruises says:  “The award nomination reflects the effort that we have put in to give the forum an effective marketing platform from which to reach key Chinese audiences. The investment from Cumbria LEP has also played an integral part in our ability to target the Chinese market, as it has allowed us to reach more travel trade and media contacts to provide tailored information and exciting sample itineraries.”

The English Lake District China Forum’s marketing director, Colin Fox, from English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues, adds:  “We understand this year’s competition at these national awards was intense, so to be nominated as finalists from hundreds of submissions is a real feather in the cap for the forum. The fact that our social media reach has hit the milestone of 10K was a great boost to endorse our digital marketing plans, with our Weibo site in the first three months of 2018 reaching over 700,000 people.”

Director of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership Graham Haywood says: “It’s good to see the English Lake District China Forum receiving recognition for its work, especially in getting the Lake District exposure to a very important tourism market and looking at creative ways to most effectively serve the Chinese market.”

VisitEngland awards for excellence in the UK tourism industry recognise those who go that extra mile and in this case demonstrate creativity to attract more business and achieve commercial success.  Tourism in England contributes £106 billion to the economy and the Chinese market is growing year on year.”

The English Lake District China Forum organises events in the UK and China to nurture relationships with influential Chinese market tour operators and decision-makers.  The group has already undertaken trade missions to Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

The forum is seeking to add members so that more Cumbrian businesses to the steering group and also the use its Chinese social media channels and reach to all interested businesses for a relatively small financial outlay.

Any organisation keen to join the English Lake District China Forum or to find out more about membership opportunities should contact jennifer.cormack@lakedistrictchinaforum.co.uk

The awards finalists will attend a traditional afternoon tea at the Bath Assembly Rooms on 23 April, St George’s Day, with winners awarded either a bronze, silver or gold award at the ceremony.

For further information about Cumbria LEP, visit www.thecumbrialep.co.uk

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