Saundersfoot – A Community Approach to Tourism

First published Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Yesterday evening (Monday 21st October 2013), I had the pleasure of being invited to a meeting of the Saunderfoot Chamber for Tourism.

Many have heard of towns and villages having Chambers of Trade, Chambers of Commerce and so on, but in Saundersfoot, along with one or two other places in Pembrokeshire, they have formed the Chamber for Tourism. It has been established for some 13 years or so, and as a membership organisation, it brings together businesses in the village and from the surrounding areas who have a vested interest in tourism.

One thing that really stood out for me during the meeting was just how well the Chamber works together. It is a genuinely community led body, all working together for the ‘greater good’ of the village. The discussion last night was initially centered around how the Chamber could promote and market Saundersfoot, and a broad range of themes were considered and shared. As the meeting progressed there were further conversations around the series of events the Chamber are organising in the coming weeks and months, several of which are now well established as successful ‘headline’ events in the local calendar.

At various times in the meeting ‘action points’ were raised e.g. a need to locate and cost a particular type of generator, volunteers required to assist with marshalling at an event and so on. Having been involved with a number of committees in the past where people have been quick to suggest ideas and somewhat slower to come forward and deliver them, I was quite honestly amazed by the swift and proactive responses of the Chamber members. It really was a wonderful thing to witness.

There is a strong sense of pride amongst the businesses and business people of Saundersfoot. Between them, they offer something for everyone from the visitor point of view, however they are not complacent. Acknowledging the challenges the weather can bring, a swift discussion ensued about how they can best utilise the fantastic facility they now have in the completely refurbished and renovated Regency Hall. I have no doubt that in the coming months there will be some firm plans established and communicated around that theme.

I took away some useful, and valuable, lessons from the meeting. Community is key. Attitude is key. Being proactive is key. Working together can never be underestimated. The Chamber has a number of long standing members, and last night welcomed some new members as well, and is continually working to grow member numbers to better support the community approach to tourism in Saundersfoot. They have shown that the community approach works – the village has businesses that trade all year, not just in the summer, and provides a series of events that serve the visitor and local people alike. A strong core of people get involved and make it happen, and they should be recognised and thanked for that contribution.

Working together is ultimately what it is all about. We can achieve far more through bringing together resources (e.g. people & time) than trying to change everything single-handed. In the same way that the Saundersfoot Chamber for Tourism is working with the immediate community in that area, Pembrokeshire Tourism is working with the wider tourism community in the county. Together we can achieve great things!

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