First published Thursday, August 4, 2014
The summer holidays have flashed by, and here in Pembrokeshire if not always in a blaze of sunshine, it has largely been dry throughout the peak summer season. As a result, the initial feedback is positive – those in the tourism industry have seen visitor numbers increase on last year, and it would seem that visitor spend has also been on the up as well. This is encouraging news, not only because it means that businesses have been able to enjoy the upturn in trade, but because it provides some confidence for the future.
This has been the second summer here in Pembrokeshire in a row where the weather has been more fair than not, and as a result, visitors have come back following a good year last year, told their friends and families about their experiences and word generally has spread about how much there is to do and see in the county. We’ve heard reports this morning of businesses already having strong bookings for 2015, good news indeed!
So what is coming up next for tourism in Pembrokeshire? Well firstly the season is not yet over. The Ironman Wales event takes place on 14th September in and around Tenby. The Tenby Blues Festival will take place in November, The Fishguard Autumn Festival is just around the corner, Narberth Food Festival takes place at the end of September and these are just a few of the events coming up. Whilst the word ‘tourism’ tends to conjure up images of summer holidays, it is a year round industry. Obviously the summer months provide the greater level of activity, but there is an increasing range of events, activities, attractions and more taking place in the ‘shoulder’ seasons, and it is perhaps in these months (September to March) where there is more scope for growth and development of the offering.
Not only does this provide a tourism business with greater opportunity to build their trade, it also provides more options for recreational activity amongst the local resident population. There are traditional elements to the tourism offering that stand the test of time – days on the beach building sandcastles, visits to museums and castles being just some of those. However there is scope to develop other ideas and products that can become key attractions and activities, and making provision for the autumn, winter and spring seasons.
As we move towards the slightly less frenetic time of the year, it provides an opportunity to consider what else we can do to develop our tourism offering, and provide some time also for reflection on what has gone well this year and what we can improve. Working together in partnership with others can make a massive difference to the end product – whether it’s linking up with other attractions to provide discounts for entry if visiting more than one location, or identifying a list of accommodation providers best suited to supporting the type of activity you offer. Being able to easily provide the visitor with comprehensive information that is relevant to them and their stay makes the experience more rewarding all round, encouraging repeat business and word of mouth recommendation too.
So, what is next? Opportunities and challenges as ever, however it is a great time to seize those opportunities and overcome the challenges in ways perhaps not considered before. Whether it is a decision to expand an existing business, diversify a product offering, or maybe do something completely different, there is no better time than now. Working together with peer businesses, accessing support provided by organisations such as ourselves and taking note of feedback from visitors can all come together to provide a recipe for development in the business. Wales is taking the world stage this week as it hosts the NATO Summit – what better time to build on that exposure and keep the profile high and the flags flying.
First published on The Pembrokeshire Tourism Blog