First published Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Yesterday (17th March 2014) the Pembrokeshire Tourism team, in partnership with the Food Development Team from Pembrokeshire County Council, hosted the annual “Supplier to Buyer” event in the Brithdir Hall on the Withybush Showground, Haverfordwest.
It’s one of those events where you get to see some of the ‘inner workings’ of the tourism and hospitality industry. With the focus very keenly on the businesses that make the industry tick, the event enables those who provide the visitor with accommodation, activities and days out to get better acquainted with those who supply them with food, drink, furnishings and more. All too often, when the word tourism is mentioned, the mind immediately goes to those businesses on the front line – hoteliers, guest houses, theme parks.
However, behind the scenes, there is a broad range of other businesses providing services and products that add to and enhance the visitor experience. From butchers and bakers to chocolatiers and training providers, with interior designers, website designers and cleaning companies to name but a few, yesterday was a great opportunity to get a clear insight into just how many different businesses are affected by the visitor economy.
At times, even some of these businesses struggle to understand that the visitor economy does have an impact on them. Retailers often state that they don’t see any difference as a result of the visitors, but when Pembrokeshire was affected by the Foot and Mouth outbreak some years ago, these businesses certainly understood it then. When the economy is doing well, and the average person has something resembling a disposable income, architects and builders get to notice the effect of the visitor spend as existing accommodation providers look to extend their premises, or refurbish the property.
Here in Pembrokeshire, tourism and the bigger picture of the visitor economy affects nearly every single one of us. Whether we have a job working in a restaurant, hotel or theme park, or work for a website designer, printer or training provider, we will interact with the visitor economy in some way or another. As such it is crucial to gain an understanding of how it works, and the value of it. Visitors bring in excess of £525million a year into the local economy and as a result over 16,000 full time equivalent jobs exist to support that. It really is part and parcel of the lifeblood of Pembrokeshire.
With that in mind, I’d like to invite you to consider just how the visitor economy, tourism, the holiday makers impact on you and what you do. For some, it may be an obvious answer, for others maybe less so. If you’re struggling to make a link, think bigger – what do you do with your days off here in the county? Do you go out for dinner with friends, take the family out for the day to a local attraction, go for a walk on the beach? What would you do if none of that was here?
As a final thought, whilst we may at times ‘complain’ about the visitor, smile through gritted teeth at a particularly difficult customer even, try and take a moment to turn that around, and think a little longer on it. Whether you’re dealing with a visitor, or dealing with another business that is involved with the visitors, if you’re getting great service, a great product or a good experience dealing with them, thank them, spread the word, smile! Tourism is much more than just the visitor, it’s a way of life, a source of income and employment, and most importantly of all, it is about people!