In this week's column, Ben explores campsite collaboration, small businesses,
the environment and the tourism industry in Pembrokeshire
My family and I recently enjoyed a great week staying at Point Farm campsite in Dale.
Owned and operated by Nia and Fil Marshall, the site occupies a beautiful patch of Pembrokeshire overlooking Dale and the Milford Haven Waterway. What makes the site yet more special however, is it is part of an innovative collaboration with other businesses to protect and promote sustainability.
The Greener Camping Club was set up on the initiative of a group of campsite owners in Pembrokeshire who wanted not only to focus on reducing the environmental impact of camping and tourism but also to use this activity to inform and educated customers and campers about environmental issues.
This led to the creation of a camping club that has grown to include sites across Wales and further afield – all committed to minimising their environmental impact as businesses, promoting environmental schemes and spreading the word on decarbonisation and how businesses can themselves have a positive impact on the environment. Money from the annual £10 membership fee charged to each new member funds environmental projects such as tree planting, habitat renewal and bat boxes as well as the development of facilities across the different sites included within the club.
There are so many positive aspects to this innovative arrangement.
Firstly, the collaboration means that businesses come together to market a solid proposition – great quality campsites in some of the UK’s most beautiful scenery driven by environmental purpose. We know that ‘green tourism’ is a growing market for Wales and there is so much that Pembrokeshire can gain from capitalising on that market opportunity by becoming known as a county of businesses committed to the environment and the protection of the landscape, which after all is arguably Pembrokeshire’s greatest and most unique asset.
Then there’s the very positive education opportunity of this collaboration. The measures in place on the sites from energy management to waste reduction along with the combined passion and expertise of the various campsite owners and the information pushed out through websites, signage on site and the membership of the club all combine to help promote the benefits of environmentally responsible business and sustainable development.
The declaration of a ‘climate emergency’ by both UK and Welsh Governments is clearly a response to some of the profoundly serious challenges facing the UK, Wales and businesses. The measures needed to arrest or reverse environmental degradation are immediate and will require very different thinking. However, the challenge for SMEs in this conversation is knowing what they can do to play their part.
What the Greener Camping Club demonstrates is that collaboration among smaller businesses – pooling efforts, resources and expertise is one way of playing an active part in tackling what might otherwise seem an ungraspably-large challenge.
This also shows that by being innovative in the way a business approaches this challenge, there is market opportunity to be gained as consumers and markets are increasingly making commercial choices based on the environmental credentials and commitment of businesses. This is not just about being a good business but doing good business too.
Tourism is one of the most important areas of the Pembrokeshire economy.
There’s a real opportunity to boost that sector by capturing the opportunity of green tourism and marketing the County of an area of businesses committed to sustainability.
There’s something really attractive about what the Greener Camping Club is seeking to do – communities of smaller businesses collaborating for positive change and mutual benefit. There are lessons in that approach for other businesses across the County and beyond.
More About Ben Cottam
Ben joined FSB three years ago from accountancy body ACCA where he served as Head of ACCA Cymru. Prior to that, Ben was Policy Manager at FSB Wales and early in his career, he also worked at the National Assembly having graduated from Cardiff School of Journalism.
Ben represents FSB on a number of boards and committees and is also a member of the Business Wales Strategic Board. As well as working on business issues, Ben is a member of Cardiff & Vale College’s Career Ready Local Advisory Board for a number of years and is a school governor.
The son of a farm manager, Ben was born and brought up in Pembrokeshire and is passionate about developing the County.