We recently held the first of a series of sector meetings to discuss various updates and initiatives.
This provided an opportunity for us to update members on our restructuring and to inform them that we are now operating with a voluntary Board of Directors, supported by a paid assistant for administrative tasks.
We highlighted the key benefits that CTA membership can provide:
Empower your business: As a CTA member, your business gains access to exclusive support tailored to enhance your success in the tourism and hospitality trade.
Connect and collaborate: Members are encouraged and supported to share best practices to enhance the quality of tourism offerings.
Signposting: We will keep you informed of important sector updates and inspired to succeed in your business, equipping you with the knowledge needed to adapt and innovate.
Advocacy: We will advocate for the interests of our members in the tourism sector, actively lobbying the Welsh Government and industry bodies on your behalf.
Collaboration and Integration:
During the meeting, we highlighted the importance of collaboration between activities and attractions, accommodation providers and hospitality services to ensure that all stakeholders benefit from tourism. The spirit of mutual support and cooperation was emphasised as a means to achieve this.
Opportunities such as providing discount codes or offers for your local accommodation providers were shared, with members confirming that this is a good way for accommodation providers to give recommendations and encourage uptake.
The group discussed the need for a list of attractions that are suitable for rainy days, as well as promoting free activities for tourists. It was suggested that visitors could collect leaflets from the Carmarthen Hwb to access this information.
Group bookings and group travel opportunities were also discussed. It was highlighted that there needs to be a coordinated effort to attract large groups, with Carmarthenshire County Council playing a role in attracting large events to the area in order to draw interest.
Opportunities for cruise ships operating from Milford Haven were also mentioned - although there are limitations due to the time passengers are off the ships.
Effective communication and the sharing of challenges among members were highlighted as important for finding solutions and improving the tourism experience in Carmarthenshire.
Support from Discover Carmarthenshire
Representatives from Carmarthenshire County Council attended to update the group on plans for promoting Carmarthenshire as a tourist destination and opportunities for activity providers and attractions to benefit.
The creation of a Carmarthenshire Tourism Ambassador was flagged as a means to boost visitor spending, extend the tourism season, and increase the reach of tourism offerings. Several of those who attended had confirmed that they had already completed the course.
Members were encouraged to sign up to receive the tourism newsletter, which offers public relations opportunities. Additionally, ensuring that businesses are listed on "Discover Carmarthenshire" was emphasised.
Carmarthenshire County Council is actively promoting local events for this winter season through a paid-for advertising campaign in collaboration with Radio Carmarthenshire. These advertisements are scheduled to run until December 17. Notably, the radio ads include DJ reads that will encourage listeners to visit the "What's on" listing on the Discover Carmarthenshire website. The Discover Carmarthenshire website offers businesses and community groups the opportunity to list their events for free, thereby enhancing their visibility.
To further amplify the reach of these events, the listings will be boosted via social media posts. It is crucial for businesses and community groups to populate the website with their events to take full advantage of this promotional opportunity.
Carmarthenshire County Council also announced it is holding a series of roadshows, starting in Llanelli on November 30 and in Newcastle Emlyn on December 5, followed by Carmarthen in the New Year. These roadshows will provide a 30-minute slot for one-on-one questions and discussions with opportunities to discuss all aspects of the sector from licensing, planning and grants plus business and marketing support.
Looking to the future, other seasonal campaigns were discussed including a St. David's Day campaign, with other opportunities discussed as part of the region's promotional efforts.
During the meeting, individuals from various attractions and businesses shared updates and challenges they were facing.
Many reported the seasonal events they had planned, which were proving popular. Some of the attractions reported successful bids for funding and so were looking forward to upgrades, including the restoration of the walled garden at Tywi Gateway.
Dafydd Newton Evans, from the National Wool Museum, reported on its decarbonisation plans and its recent acquisition of Melin Teifi. He explained how, looking to the future, they had aspirations to reinstate the workings of its machinery to show how a working wool mill would operate.
CTA Director Craig Evans updated the group on the success he has experienced marketing his Coastal Foraging Courses via social media, with YouTube, in particular, proving to be effective. It was agreed that the group would find Social Media training beneficial, particularly for the opportunities that YouTube can offer and so the CTA has agreed to explore training opportunities for members.
Feedback regarding Carmarthenshire as a tourist destination was reported to be very positive overall, which is encouraging.
Carmarthenshire Tourism Association provided an update on legislative changes that have the potential to impact the sector - notable the proposed changes to the school holidays in Wales (reducing the long summer holiday break to potentially four weeks and redistributing the remaining weeks to other holidays throughout the year) and the “182 Rule” which has the potential to reduce the capacity of holiday accommodation in the region. It was emphasised that any adverse impact on holiday accommodation is very likely to also impact activities and attractions.
The meeting concluded with an opportunity for networking amongst the group and a reminder for members to watch out for CTA newsletters for future updates and to join the CTA Facebook Group where members share news and offer peer-to-peer support.