A West Cumbrian hotelier has reported a 300 per cent surge in business since lockdown eased, as tourists flock to the county.

Philip Cueto, who owns the Golden Lion in Maryport and Silloth’s Golf Hotel, said Maryport was busier than he’d ever seen it as restrictions on foreign travel continue to prompt many holidaymakers to opt for UK breaks.

Mr Cueto said he had recruited four new full-time staff members in Maryport as a result of the business boom, and he’s not the only trader reporting an increase in visitors.

Mr Cueto, who also owns Maryport cocktail bar Antonio’s, said: “I’ve never seen as many tourists in Maryport for about 20 years.

“I think it’s purely because people can’t go abroad. I think the Lake District is that full that people have been pushed out to the west coast. Usually it’s a hard job getting people this far west.

“It’s excellent for west Cumbria.”

Since reopening in July, Mr Cueto said, business has been 300 per cent up compared to the same period in a normal year.

Mark Richardson, owner of Hartleys Ice Cream in Egremont and St Bees Beach Shop and Tea Room, has also noticed a rise in visitor numbers to the west coast.

He said: “Speaking to staff there are increased numbers and it could well be that people are venturing a bit further west from the central Lake District to see what we have got to offer on the west coast.

“It could be up 20 to 25 per cent on normal years.

"Hopefully if the weather stays half decent it might increase.”

At Lakes Escapes in Workington, trade was busy in August, with people coming from as far as Grange-over-Sands to try their hands at the escape rooms.

The business is operating at 50 per cent of its usual capacity because of COVID-19 restrictions and found itself fully booked.

Owner Carole Watson said: “We were totally unexpectedly really, really busy – busier than expected considering people were still uneasy.”

Tourism is a major industry in the county which, according to Cumbria Tourism, contributed £3.13 billion annually to the local economy prior to COVID.

It is one of the county’s major employment sectors, providing 65,500 jobs.

But, while the boost to business is welcome, it cannot make up for the loss of revenue suffered while businesses were forced to close.

Mr Cueto said: “You’re never going to make three months’ trading in two months but it’s certainly been a bonus how busy it’s been.”