Making Tourism Count

First published Friday, May 16, 2014

Today (Friday 16 May) we were joined by Simon Hart MP for a Tourism Surgery, open to all members and indeed anyone involved in the tourism trade throughout the county. Over the course of two hours a number of issues were discussed, from broadband provision and mobile signal, through to road and rail infrastructure and transport.

Of course, topics such as marketing, promotion and visitor information were also high on the agenda, along with some discussion around the various roles and bodies involved in the provision of all these things. Tourism is an industry that has many layers of governance – the UK Government has an input, Visit Britain too, the Welsh Government, Visit Wales, local authorities and a range of subdivisions and departments within each level. Then there are a whole host of other organisations that have an interest – trade associations such as Pembrokeshire Tourism, bodies that provide resources and training at community level, such as PLANED and groupings such as Chambers for Tourism.

In many respects, it is a good thing that there is such a strong interest in tourism, and the associated visitor economy. However it can also mean that at times there is some confusion as to who is responsible for what, and who should be delivering various services. There are overlaps, and there are also gaps in provision, but one thing that is increasingly clear to many, and that was raised several times during today’s discussions was the simple fact that a rather large number of people in key decision making roles just don’t understand the value and importance of the industry.

The team at Pembrokeshire Tourism spend a great deal of time communicating with various bodies and organisations to try and address this. From the local authority, to Welsh Government, even Westminster, we do understand that support for this sector is vital, and that the economic value created by the businesses involved is extremely important to Pembrokeshire, Wales and the UK. We have almost 500 members, and we regularly raise their concerns, whether through meetings we attend regionally and nationally, or with them directly, as we did today.

However, to really get the message home, we need to turn up the volume. By the end of next week,  we will have sent each of our members a template letter which we will be encouraging them to send to their County Councillor. There is one County Councillor who sits on the Cabinet with Tourism in his portfolio, Councillor David Pugh. However there are a further 59 members, each with tourism businesses in their ward. If every business makes a representation to their elected member, and helps them to understand the value and importance of the industry here in the county, it will be a strong step towards to raising the profile of the sector and increasing awareness of the positive contribution it makes to Pembrokeshire’s economy.

We will also bring you further information next week about the surgery held today with Simon Hart MP, along with details of a similar event we will be holding in June with Stephen Crabb MP. If you have any questions or wish to discuss a particular matter in more detail relating to the industry, your business, or ideas for the future of the sector, please get in touch, either by phone on 01646 622228 or by email to maudie@holiday-pembrokeshire.co.uk

First published on the Pembrokeshire Tourism Blog

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