The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, Britain’s narrowest gauge railway, is looking to welcome more global visitors than ever before once international travel fully reopens.
The railway, called colloquially La’al Ratty, which is Cumbrian dialect for Little Way, was built in 1859. It is a popular tourist attraction, with people across the world wanting to clamber onboard its steam locomotives.
Match funding from the government’s Department for International Trade helped the railway to spread its profile beyond European tourist markets to visitors in Japan, China, India, and America.
Previous funding in 2019 allowed members of the railway to visit China and India to showcase the wonders of La’al Ratty to potential new visitors. The railway has benefitted from further funding this year to allow it to invest in improving its website, and produce media content to raise its profile to international audiences in preparation for the return of inbound travel.
The railway is hosting its gala this weekend from Saturday, 30th April to Monday, 2nd May; full details of the weekend can be found at http://www.ravenglass-railway.co.uk.
Rachel Bell, Head of Marketing and Business Development at Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, said:
“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the railway as we haven’t been able to welcome some guests to enjoy the attraction over the past couple of years, especially those from other countries – more specifically from different continents.
“We are delighted to receive further funding from the Department for International Trade’s Internationalisation Fund which we used to improve our website, IT consultancy, ticketing systems, marketing, and photography to showcase the railway to our chosen target countries.
“Before the pandemic, we travelled to China and India, again with support from the Department for International Trade, and we have been able to build on the contacts we made. Our additional marketing has put us in a position to attract more potential visitors from these countries.
“La’al Ratty is a wonderful, historic attraction which brings so many people a lot of joy when they pay a visit, so we’re putting in the work now to make sure we are fully prepared to host our overseas guests.”
“The funding application for the Internationalisation Fund was very easy to navigate, and she would recommend any Cumbrian business targeting international audiences to inquire about the grants available.
“The funding has been such a huge benefit to us in our aim of reaching overseas markets and has allowed us to reach a wider audience. This is a fund more Cumbrian businesses should be using as it can really help change the dynamics of how they work.”
Sarah Peak, the Department for International Trade’s Export Manager for Cumbria, said:
Many people think that companies need to ship out products to be classed as an export business, and don’t realise that services are also a highly exportable commodity.
“Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway is the perfect example of how a locally based company can export its services to such a large, worldwide audience and reap the benefits of doing so.
“The railway is a huge success story for Cumbria and something we’re all rightly proud of, and we are here to assist other local businesses to get their profile and services known more widely across the globe.
“The Department for International Trade offers free support and we’re always on hand to assist all Cumbrian businesses with their export ambitions and potential.”