Tourism contributed a huge £119m to the Neath Port Talbot economy in 2017 but a major effort is now under way to ensure it gets even stronger.
The 2017 figures (the latest available) represented a 5.3% increase on the previous year’s figures – equating to a valuable increase of approximately £5.97m in revenue for our local economy.
A total of 1.59m visitors came to Neath Port Talbot in 2017 to enjoy attractions such as Margam Country Park, the Aberavon Seafront and the Vale of Neath’s beautiful Waterfall Country – an increase of 8.4% (approximately 124,000 visitors) on 2016 with the local tourism sector supporting 1,624 jobs, an increase of 3% on 2016.
In a report on tourism within Neath Port Talbot this month, members of Neath Port Talbot Council’s Regeneration and Sustainable Development Cabinet Board were given an update on efforts to meet the aspirations of the Neath Port Talbot Destination Management Plan - which guides tourism development in the county.
Priority actions which have been, or are in the process of being delivered, in partnership with private and voluntary sector tourism operators include:
• Swansea and Amman Valleys - Developing and promoting cycle routes, developing fishing opportunities along the River Tawe, enhancing signage and maintaining Cwmdu Glen.
• Afan Forest Park – Maintaining Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre, cycle ways and mountain bike trails and delivering the Bike, Give, Sustain visitor giving scheme (an opportunity for avid mountain bikers and others to show their support for trail maintenance via donation boxes).
• Vale of Neath - Additional visitor car parking, development of the former Waterfalls Centre, enhanced signage and working in partnership with Brecon Beacons National Park..
• Aberavon Seafront - Encouraging collaboration among operators on the popular seafront and identifying further development opportunities.
In June 2018 the reinstatement of the Council’s dedicated Tourism Team was approved by the authority. The Tourism Team will now be working closely with partners to raise the profile of Neath Port Talbot as a visitor destination by securing funding for tourism developments and delivering destination marketing campaigns.
So far the team has successfully made applications to Visit Wales’s Tourism Amenity Infrastructure Scheme (TAIS) for funding to deliver tourism development projects worth more than £343,000.
It has commissioned a Destination ‘Place’ Branding exercise, (a key step in establishing how NPT will promote itself as a destination in future) and a Visitor Information Network Feasibility Study is underway to inform future visitor information provision in the area.
Other achievements include giving advice and assistance to a wide range of local tourism businesses and delivering a social media marketing campaign for the Aberavon Seafront (a video which reached more than 150,000 people).
The team’s priorities for the next six month include:
• Launching an events fund which aims to nurture new and successful events to encourage overnight stays in the county borough.
• Devising a destination marketing plan for NPT to target key visitor markets
• Delivering a new destination website for Neath Port Talbot to showcase the area to potential visitors
• Continuing to assist tourism businesses and stakeholders in NPT.
• Completing the delivery of Rural Development Plan funded Tourism Development in Neath Port Talbot Project (which employs an Officer to work with tourism operators and stakeholders in rural wards).