First published Tuesday, October 14, 2014
The Future of Tourism starts at Home. Keep that in mind as we will be coming back to this theme several times over the next few months, particularly with our conference in January 2015.
Before we consider the future, lets take a moment to look back at the very recent past, namely the Pembrokeshire Tourism Awards 2014 which took place on Thursday 9th October in the wonderful venue of the Wolfscastle Country Hotel. What a night! With 220 attendees from all sectors of the tourism and visitor economy, it was a superb opportunity to recognise and reward those who commit a great deal of time, effort and investment into their businesses to develop not only the business, but the welcome, product, offering and services for the visitor.
Every business awarded that night had one thing in common. Each and every one of them operate in Pembrokeshire, in the county we call ‘home’. The winner of the Outstanding Contribution to Tourism Award Glyn Williams, Founding Director of Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo provides a strong example of how the future of tourism does indeed start at home. Opting to diversify the farming business he ran with his wife, he took steps to develop a visitor attraction that has steadily grown over the years to become one of the top paid for attractions in Wales, with a number of Awards confirming it as the Best Family Day Out in Wales as well.
The nature of the tourism and visitor industry is such that trying to stay ahead of the game is increasingly difficult. Whilst it is widely acknowledged that the expectations of the visitor are high and continuing to rise, the market place is an international one, and the customer type varies enormously (think families, young independent travellers, older couples, individuals, groups and so on) and attempting to predict what they may want in the future is to a degree virtually impossible. However, quality and value for money will always feature regardless of demographic of the visitor.
So, what can we do? We are the future of tourism. The people running businesses today and those who are currently in school or university are the ones who have the power to shape the industry, deliver something of good value and great quality to the market. Some of this will of course be in response to demand from that market, but there is also great opportunity to seek out new services, products and experiences to offer, and create a new future for the sector.
The world is changing, and there is little likelihood of the pace of that change slowing down at all. Political, economic, climatic and technological changes will all have an impact on societies the world over, and it may just be that the visitor economies of the world become stronger as a result as people seek to take some time out from the frenetic pace of life.
Here in Pembrokeshire, we are taking steps to help provide something of a route map as far as it is possible to do so, through the publication of the Destination Pembrokeshire Management Plan. The core group of the Destination Pembrokeshire Partnership meet regularly to discuss the plan, and actions being taken to progress the plan. The plan acknowledges the need to improve quality of the accommodation offering in some areas, and to encourage the development of better facilities for people with disabilities, along with a number of other key areas. Whilst there are clearly actions that have to be taken by the core stakeholder group (e.g. some infrastructure activity lies with Pembrokeshire County Council, maintenance of the Coastal Path lies with Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and so on) there are also many opportunities for individual businesses to contribute whether through changes in their own activity, or by partnering with other businesses to facilitate a greater offering of products and or services for the visitor.
We’re always keen to hear your thoughts, so please do share with us. A copy of the Destination Pembrokeshire Management Plan can be downloaded from the link below.
First posted on The Pembrokeshire Tourism Blog