The first ever pan-Wales workshop on tourism ambassador schemes took place on June 20th at the Imperial Hotel in Llandudno. The workshop was a collaboration between Snowdonia National Park Authority and the Next Tourism Generation (NTG) Project at Cardiff Met to develop a Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) pilot scheme as part of the Yr Wyddfa Partnership Plan.
The free event – Tourism Ambassadors for Wales: Best Practice and Lessons Learnt – was opened by Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM. The Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism said, “It is essential that visitors get consistent and engaging information that helps them have a genuine experience in an area, and engages them with all the things that make Wales special – from our bilingual culture to our iconic natural environment. This is where local ambassador schemes play an important role and this first pan-Wales workshop on tourism ambassador is an excellent way to share best practice.”
Approximately 100 people attended the event that was chaired by Iwan Thomas, Chief Executive Officer of Pembrokeshire Local Action Network for Enterprise and Development (PLANED). Ambassadors from Wrexham, Denbighshire, Brecon Beacons and the Gower talked about their schemes and the benefits for businesses and the destination.
Yn Tracey Purnell, an Ambassador from the Brecon Beacons said, “It was an extremely informative event and I thoroughly enjoyed the day. I had the opportunity to network with passionate people with the same passion and goal. It was also a great opportunity to showcase the fantastic scheme that Carol Williams, Brecon Beacons National Park Tourism Growth Officer, has created. The Ambassador scheme really does help us promote and protect the National Park and enhance the visitor experience.”
Dean Jeffery, an Ambassador from Tourism Swansea Bay commented that “It was a super event with opportunities to learn from other ambassador schemes in Wales. Ambassadors are a real bonus to a destination, providing a friendly welcome and recommendations to visitors with local knowledge and a personal touch. It was an honour to be chosen alongside brilliant schemes in other areas – we must be doing something right in Gower, and we are glad to provide input for Snowdonia National Park. Several members of Tourism Swansea Bay are also Gower Ambassadors and find it a benefit for their business.”
Chair of This is Wrexham, Sam Regan, added, “It was a fantastic event and a great opportunity to not only showcase Wrexham but also to share in the success of the Ambassadors programmes taking place across the country. It is notable that although different areas approach their goals differently, all our objectives are aligned. Partnership between public and private organisations is key to success overall, and the work being done by everyone across Wales is having a big impact on the tourism industry.”
Catrin Glyn, Yr Wyddfa Partnership Officer, highlighted that, “The workshop offered us at Snowdonia National Park Authority an opportunity to pick and choose the best aspects from different Ambassador schemes across Wales, which will enable us to design a sustainable and bespoke scheme for the area. Yr Wyddfa and Eryri have a special place in so many people’s hearts, so it was extremely encouraging to have such a valuable discussion on the development of a scheme in Eryri. There are so many positives that we can take out of this event. The next step will be to continue our discussion with local residents and businesses to develop clear and coherent objectives as to what we aim to achieve.’’”
Exhibitors included Keep Wales Tidy (Green Key and Blue Flag), Experience Community, Family Holiday Association, Sustainability Lab Bangor University, Snowdonia Society, Snowdonia Active, Wales Official Tour Guides Association, Food Skills Cymru, Llechi Cymru and Techniquest Glyndŵr.
John Kinnear, Head of Programmes at the Family Holiday Association was delighted to exhibit. John reflected that, “Ambassadors is such a great idea to help visitors get the most out of their time in Snowdonia whilst encouraging them to visit some less well-known gems. Many struggling families never take part in tourism so it was great to meet many people keen to work with us at the Family Holiday Association to help more families benefit from the fantastic experiences Wales has to offer.”
Exhibitor Craig Grimes, Managing Director at Experience Community, a not-for-profit organisation that provides rural tourism opportunities for disabled people said, “It was great to be part of the tourism Ambassadors event, people were very interested in discussing what opportunities they could provide for disabled people. We spoke to bike hire companies, accommodation providers, outdoor activity centres and National Park staff. It is encouraging to see that there’s a real possibility to develop fully inclusive tourism products in Wales.”
The Imperial Hotel, Retreats Group, RibRide, National Botanic Garden of Wales, Loving Welsh Food and GreenWood generously donated prizes for a Yr Wyddfa quiz. The Wales Tourism Alliance and Mid Wales Tourism kindly supported the event. Paula Ellis, Group General Manager at the Retreats Group said, “Twr y Felin Hotel, Penrhiw Priory and Roch Castle were delighted to sponsor the inaugural event and offer prizes to stay at each of our venues. We look forward to welcoming each of the three winners to Pembrokeshire.”
Heini Jones from NTG Wales said, “We really appreciated all those who attended, sponsored, exhibited and presented at this landmark workshop. The day exceeded everyone’s expectations. The event was very well attended by businesses, giving them the opportunity to learn from different types of ambassador schemes. Participants discussed the potential benefits of a Yr Wyddfa Ambassador programme and shared ideas directly with Snowdonia National Park Authority. It was an important networking occasion that strengthened partnerships for the promotion of sustainable tourism development in Wales”.
Note for Editors:
The Next Tourism Generation Project based at Cardiff Met is funded by the European Commission and aims to strengthen collaboration between industry, learning providers and government to address digital and sustainability skills gaps.
Mae Partneriaeth Yr Wyddfa yn dod a swyddogion sy’n cynrychioli’r sefydliadau a’r tirfeddianwyr sy’n gyfrifol am reoli’r mynydd yn nhermau llawr gwlad at ei gilydd. Mae hyn yn amrywio o fod yn waith cadwraeth a rheoli llwybrau i dwristiaeth, ffermio ac achub mynydd.
The Plan was launched in February 2018 by the Minister for Environment for the Welsh Government, Hannah Blythyn.
The Snowdon Partnership Plan can be seen at http://www.snowdonpartnership.co.uk
For more information, contact Ioan Gwilym, SNPA’s Corporate Services Communications Officer 01766 772 253 / 07900 267506 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org