The future is in our hands

First posted Thursday, May 21, 2015

Pembrokeshire – the destination of choice for well over 4 million visitors a year. Tourism, and the broader visitor economy are key to the lifeblood of the county, supporting in excess of 16,000 full time equivalent jobs, a significant number of which are based in small businesses. The industry generates over £520million a year in Pembrokeshire, and with recently published visitor figures from Visit Wales indicating a rise in the number of overseas visitors in particular to Wales, it quickly becomes evident that supporting and promoting the tourism and visitor economy here is important.

The make up of Pembrokeshire’s visitor economy is diverse – from a small, family run B&B, a beachside cafe and gift shop to a large theme park, hotel and restaurant, not forgetting of course all the supply chain businesses that also play a part (butchers, accountants, website designers, insurance brokers and many more). Some of these businesses will have sufficient resource to undertake proactive direct marketing campaigns of their own, whereas others will attract some of their visitors thanks to listings on websites such as Visit Pembrokeshire, the destination marketing site hosted and maintained by Pembrokeshire County Council. Of course marketing Pembrokeshire as a destination is just one part of the whole – to sustain and develop a vibrant industry there has to be a good mix of trade engagement, support, training opportunities, infrastructure maintenance and development, and general encouragement of activity across all levels from community to corporate.

The Destination Pembrokeshire Partnership core group comprises four key stakeholders – Pembrokeshire Tourism, Pembrokeshire County Council, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and PLANED. There are then additional stakeholder groups including organisations such as The National Trust, CADW and The Port of Milford Haven and broader again to include anyone who is involved in the tourism and visitor economy. The Partnership is the management group for tourism delivery in the county and has drawn up an action plan outlining how the development of the industry could be shaped and supported over the coming years. This is however not without challenges – pressures on public sector budgets (Pembrokeshire County Council, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority) and continuing pressure on private and third sector finances (Pembrokeshire Tourism, PLANED) mean that whilst working together under the umbrella of ‘Destination Pembrokeshire’ has to date been fairly straightforward, it may in the future become less so as the various partners all have a range of other activities and ‘duties’ to deliver and local government reorganisation becomes a reality.

With this in mind, the Partnership has been considering whether it is appropriate to consider a new way of working. A report was published on Tuesday 19th May (copy available on request) that looks at the existing structure and makes recommendations for future development. It is without doubt an exciting time for tourism in Pembrokeshire. Whether you are directly involved through the provision of visitor accommodation or activities, food and drink or shopping, or supporting businesses who do that, or simply interested in the industry and how it contributes to our economy, there is a great opportunity to actively shape the future of the sector here in the county.

Pembrokeshire is well known beyond the county border, but could it become more so? How best could we achieve more exposure on the world stage? What do we need to do here within the county to provide further support and opportunities for existing and new businesses? How do we make sure that we encourage such growth and development without spoiling what we have, the landscape and tranquility that many cite as reasons for coming here? The Destination Partnership wants to hear from you. Tourism in Pembrokeshire is everybody’s business, so get involved, get talking, and lets work together to deliver a world class offer that truly is hard to beat.

First published on The Pembrokeshire Tourism Blog

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