AS labour shortages continue to stifle many industries across the board, we reached out to see how the hospitality sector was faring within Cumbria’s popular tourist hotspot, Keswick.

According to the Office of National Statistics in May 2022, the number of job vacancies rose to 1,300,000, an increase of 503,900 from the pre-pandemic level in 2020.

The national scale problem rings all too true for many businesses in Keswick, as Cumbria Tourism have revealed that 88 per cent of businesses see the hiring of new employees a problem.

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Managing director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, said: "There continues to be urgent staff shortages within Cumbria’s tourism and hospitality industry, with our business tracker research revealing that 88 per cent of businesses view recruitment of staff as a problem.

"These challenges are stifling business recovery with many unable to operate at full capacity.

"Cumbria Tourism continues to make representations at the highest level, including a recent meeting with the Immigration Minister, to highlight the issues the county faces in recruitment.

"We are also working closely with the county’s colleges and other organisations to promote career paths into tourism, taking an active role in key activity, such as recent large-scale jobs fairs in Barrow and Kendal and the upcoming Carlisle Jobs Fair next month,” she said.

Sarah Bell, manager at Jasper’s Coffee House, said they had job adverts out for ‘months and months with no-takers’.

"We luckily in the last month managed to hire quite a lot of people but it’s people we know through word of mouth and everyone’s travelling a really long way - from Cockermouth, Carlisle and Maryport.

"We pay per hour more than what a lot of bigger businesses pay because we it’s the only way we can bring people in - and we don’t have the luxury of a hotel to bump our prices to offer our staff a higher wage.

"We’re only one of the businesses that haven’t had to stop lunch services or shorten our hours – on a Monday things are absolutely manic because there’s very limited choice elsewhere.

"It’s better now but at one point most of staff were at breaking point because it was that busy," she said.

Marston’s PLC, a chain which owns five pubs in Keswick, have also indicated that they are experiencing recruitment issues.

For one business however, they can take relief in their pre-emptive efforts.  

Dani Hope, director of Lake District Hotels, said: "Lake District Hotels, a family owned and run group that owns Skiddaw Hotel, Kings Arms Hotel and Inn on the Square in the centre of Keswick, have been proactive in recruiting and retaining staff over the last six months to ensure we are in a strong position as we enter the summer season." 

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