So, what is our Lake District ‘brand’ all about?
According to The Lake District National Park Authority:
“Visitors come to enjoy the spectacular landscape and rich cultural heritage in a peaceful setting.”
And Cumbria Tourism has a clear vision – for the Lake District National Park to become Europe’s Number One rural tourism destination.
Research conducted by Mintel on destination brands in the UK identifies the Lakes as the best-regarded overall, the area having beaten Devon, Cornwall and London. The results show that the Lake District is near faultless in its image. (Mintel)
Now, ‘brand image’ isn’t just some vague and fanciful marketing concept…. it is a vital support for a tourism industry worth over £2billion per annum and providing almost 60,000 jobs directly.
And if you don’t work directly in tourism … well, the chances are that you, or someone you know, depend upon it to some extent. Holiday businesses are the customers of legions of builders, plumbers, electricians, plasterers, window-cleaners, accountants and so on.
And our holidaymakers avail themselves of the multitude of hotels, cafes, outdoor shops and other visitor destinations which the Lakes offer.
So, whilst our paramount concern is for safety and the environment, jobs and businesses are also a real concern.
Any move which would dissuade people from coming here would be economically disastrous….. on a scale infinitely greater than the 200-or-so new jobs for Cumbrians which the repository may eventually provide.
So, what would the effect of burying nuclear waste in the Lakes have on its image?
A survey of 500 tourists, conducted in Keswick by Friends of the Earth, asked whether the presence of a nuclear repository either next to the National Park or underneath it would affect the Lake District’s image.
89% of people thought that this would have a negative impact on perceptions of the Lake District.
So, that’s about 9-out-of-10 visitors (and their wallets and purses) feeling more negatively about the place.
And what would that mean?
Some would have you believe that it requires a long-term study by yet more marketing consultants to analyse what that might mean…
… well, we are prepared to stick our neck out and say that negative perceptions will reduce the likelihood of people wanting to buy the brand (this marketing stuff really isn’t complicated!). So, it will damage our businesses … not just the holiday businesses but all those carpet-fitters, kitchen-installers, gardeners and taxi-drivers mentioned earlier.
And, in fact, MRWS hired two firms of London-based marketing consultants …. And they told them this:
Perceived Risk to the Cumbria Brand (MRWS)
In brand terms … at risk from the target audiences’ negative perceptions of nuclear waste and contamination are:
• Unspoilt countryside
• Food and drink
• Safety and security
• Peacefulness/ tranquility
• Quality of life.
If the target audiences believe that any of these things have been negatively affected, then the potential consequences is reduced tourist numbers and spend, decreased food and drink sales, decreased house prices…
(Sedley Place and the Communications Group)
Whilst it may be “politically correct” to talk about tourism in terms of a “Cumbrian” brand, we’ll show you the evidence, straight from Cumbria Tourism, that the Lake District brand is key to Cumbria as a whole..
Eleven years ago, Cumbria Tourism launched new branding. Here it is:
Which part of that is actually the most important?
Today, this is what they use:
And that’s because even Cumbria Tourism have had to accept that people don’t come to Cumbria – they come to the Lake District.
With all due respect to the many other fantastic and interesting places in Cumbria, the Lake District is our world-class tourist destination in branding and economic terms.
It is an international brand beneficial not just to tourism and tourism related jobs but also indirectly to other sectors – for instance agriculture, food and drink. It also helps other tourism sectors in Cumbria eg someone who is in the Lakes for a week may pop up to Carlisle or Hadrian’s Wall for a day.
As things stand, the nuclear sector simply does not overlap with Lake District tourism. Despite its proximity, we emphasise as things stand, the brand is not affected.
Earlier this year to protect our £2bn plus annual industry we heard the Government had earmarked an advertising budget for us if they go ahead with the repository plan!
£500k. Yes that’s right, £500k! That’s less than the sum Gibraltar spends, and, at the last count, they had only one rock there.
It is also less than many individual businesses spend on marketing eg a spa in Covent Garden and Sadler’s Wells Ballet.
The Lake District is the magnet or, as some strongly feel, the goose which lays the golden eggs for many including ironically Allerdale District Council amongst others. The Stobart Group’s plans for Carlisle Airport are based upon the Lakes tourism numbers.
And it’s a goose which shouldn’t be cooked.
So, for a multitude of reasons, The Lake District National Park must be protected from this half-baked plan, and excluded from ANY further consideration.
We must avoid our destiny being…..