During English Tourism week, a national campaign working to raise the profile of the industry and celebrate the value and quality of tourism in England, it was humbling to see first-hand, the hard work and talent that goes on behind the scenes at one of our most iconic and popular days out.

I’ve visited Muncaster Castle all my life, I’m sure all my birthdays involved a most enjoyable trip with family and friends. But my visit last Saturday absolutely blew me away (quite literally as the vulture’s wing tips brushed past my hair).

Peter, Iona, their daughter, Isla and the team devote their lives to opening up our most famous castle, creatively thinking of new ways to excite and inspire, always making the most of the incredible surroundings. During our visit, we enjoyed Roman historic finds, a look in the cellar at the state-of-the-art new geo-thermal heating system in construction, a tour of the Castle’s most intricate tapestries and the newly restored Library complete with gilded constellation ceiling - all in a family residence, home to the Pennington’s for centuries and that for me, makes Muncaster so special.

It was also an absolute treat to visit the award winning Cumbrian Heavy Horses Centre in the beautiful Whicham Valley.

These gentle giants are amongst my most favourite animals, and Cumbrian Heavy Horses is the only riding centre in the world dedicated to breeds such as the British Clydesdale, Shire, Suffolk Punch and continental Percheron and Ardennes.

It is the absolute determination and dedication of the team, led by Annie Rose and ‘CJ’ that make this such a wonderful and unique experience.

Following Copeland's successful Tourism Conference in February, I am working with local stakeholders on how best to maximise the opportunities tourism presents in the borough and will next month be chairing a tourism roundtable discussion. Tourism is at the heart of Cumbria’s local economy, with more than 47 million people visiting the county in 2017, boosting the area’s economy by £2.9 billion and supporting almost 65,000 jobs.

Later this month, I will be meeting the new Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business and Industry and the Tourism minister Michael Ellis to discuss how we can progress Cumbria’s bid for a Tourism Action Zone and to lobby for the Tourism Sector Deal.