Your opinion counts.

First published – Friday, May 10, 2013

Tourism is an ever changing industry, and one that is very service orientated. The nature of that service is such that it can incorporate everything from the greeting given by the hotel receptionist, to the standard of cleaning done by the housekeeping team, to the provision of information and facilities by the destination itself.

Now some of this is obvious – local newspapers produce summer holiday guides as part of their publications, and of course numerous attractions and activity centres have their own marketing material in the form of leaflets, websites and so on. The County Council has also provided a number of printed guides for the area, featuring information on accommodation providers as well as places to go and things to do.

A “change in direction” has meant that in the future, they are unlikely to be able to provide this kind of information in the same volume as previously, if indeed at all. Whilst the world generally is moving more towards a digital platform in terms of accessing and sharing information, there are still some who are not familiar with or indeed comfortable using such technology. The County Council Tourism Team are aware of this, and have been taking steps to investigate alternative ways of producing the visitor guide, although it will be on a considerably smaller scale in terms of distribution quantities. There are understandably mixed views on this and further feedback, comment and discussion is welcomed to help identify a cost effective and suitable way forward. The County Council marketing will move to a digital platform however, with regular updates and monthly focus themes, which will help to spread the word about the outstanding offering here in the county, but it will need industry support and engagement too.

Another service that is under review is the provision of public toilets. Whilst at first glance this may not seem like an obvious tourist service, if you think about it, everybody has a need to ‘go’ from time to time, and if you’re on holiday, it’s more than likely that you’ll make use of the local public facilities. Whilst the calculations on provision have taken into account the resident population of the county, it is feared that the increase in population during the main trade season has not be considered. A statement in the local press recently read as follows:

“At present the council maintains 93 public toilets across the county at an annual cost of £1.5m a year.

The council said this equates to 7.9 toilet blocks per 10,000 head of population – the highest ratio in Wales – and compares to 4.7 per 10,000 head of population in the similar area of Cornwall.

Following an initial review, a report proposes consulting further about the future of 28 blocks with a view to possible closure.

The provision of public toilets by local authorities is not a statutory function and closure of 28 facilities would save the council about £135,000 a year.

“The council recognises that public toilets play a role in supporting the contribution that tourism makes to the local economy, particularly for those for whom ready access to a toilet is a consideration on grounds of age, health (including pregnancy) or disability,” says the report.

“The 28 facilities in question have been identified for removal from Council management on the basis of manageable impact in respect of tourism and with limited welfare effects on residents and visitors.

If the Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee agrees with the proposal, it will go out to consultation and a public toilet strategy developed for the remaining 65 facilities.

The 28 toilets under review are: Croesgoch, Crymych, Dinas Cross (Main Road), Fishguard Square, Gwaun Valley Sychpant, Letterston, Maenclochog, Mathry, Nevern, Solva Upper Lay-by, St David’s Quickwell Hill, Trefin, Burton, Clynderwen, Lawrenny, Llangwm Black Tar, Llanstadwell Hazelbeach, Milford Haven Manchester Square, Milford Haven The Rath, Newgale adj to The Pebbles Café, Newgale adj to Duke of Edinburgh public house, Neyland Marina Brunel Quay, Pembroke Black Horse, Pembroke Parade, Pembroke Dock Front Street, Pembroke Dock Hobbs Point, St Florence, St Ishmaels.”

Local responses have in the main been strongly against closure of any public toilets. Whilst there has been some consideration made about the impact of such closures on the visitors, many fear it doesn’t go far enough. Further press articles this week have suggested that

“The council will write to town and community councils – which cover the areas where blocks are located – to explore whether they would be interested in taking them over.

The Council would also like to hear from local businesses and community organisations, which may be interested in taking over the running of these toilets.”

If you want your voice to be heard in relation to either the marketing of the county, the provision of public toilets, or indeed any other matter, please do get in touch with us. Tourism matters in Pembrokeshire, and it is important that it is supported.

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