Showcasing the Best of Welsh Business

Tourism Business Across Pembrokeshire Come Together for the First, in Person, Visit Pembrokeshire AGM and Business Networking Event

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7th April saw Visit Pembrokeshire hold their first in-person AGM, Business Update & Networking event at Pembrokeshire College. Over sixty-five businesses in the hospitality & tourism sector attended to hear about the activity over the last 12 months and the plans for the rest of 2022 and beyond.

The evening kicked off with the AGM, led by Chair of the Board Jane Rees-Baynes who introduced the board of directors, the majority of whom were in attendance:

Neil Kedward (Seren Collection), Tim Rees (Tree Dwellers & Unearthed Festival), Sophie Hurst (Preseli Venture), Simon Vickers (Griffin Inn Dale), Jane Rees-Baynes (Elm Grove Country House), Iwan Thomas (PLANED), Di Clements (PCNPA), Paul Miller (PCC).

Jane also announced three new Director appointments – Ed Tomp (Redhill School), Emyr Afan Davies (Avanti Media and Whitesands Cottages) and Nick Neumann (Newgale Holidays).

Speaking about the board and its new additions Jane Rees-Baynes said

“I'm delighted to welcome our newest Directors to the Visit Pembrokeshire board – they bring with them extremely valuable experience and skills – all of which will complement the existing members of the board and help support Emma and the Visit Pembrokeshire team in growing the business into a hugely successful Destination Management Organisation (DMO) for Pembrokeshire.”

Emma Thornton, CEO of Visit Pembrokeshire, followed the AGM with a review of the last 12 months activity and explained Visit Pembrokeshire’s role as the Official Destination Management Organisation (DMO) for the county. Speaking about the growth in membership since its launch in November 2020 Emma says

“We launched the business mid-pandemic and spent the last 18 months supporting our members, and the wider trade through the challenges it presented, alongside working with our Marketing and PR agencies to develop a strong and recognisable brand for Pembrokeshire. We have seen steady growth in membership over the last 18 months with 73 members joining and the recent #strongertogether membership campaign has been hugely positive. I would also like to say thank you to our Strategic Partners, who share our goals for tourism in the county- Seren Collection, Bluestone National Park, Quality Cottages & the Port of Milford Haven for their continued and invaluable support.”

Attendees also heard from Corinne Cariad, lead on Visit Pembrokeshire’s Open to All project (funded by the UK Community Renewal Fund), which aims to develop Pembrokeshire as a more inclusive destination for visitors with disabilities, both visible and hidden. The project has already seen a range of training and familiarisation visits take place across the county to support businesses improve their welcome to disabled people. Training sessions have included Disability Equity and Awareness, D/deaf and Hard of Hearing training and further training planned with a focus on other disabilities. Visits to Folly Farm, Asheston Eco Barns and Coastal Foraging with Craig Evans and the Beach Wheelchair scheme have highlighted businesses already working to improve their accessibility for disabled visitors. Other aspects of the project include a marketing toolkit, conferences with more planned for later in the autumn.

Finishing off the presentations with a bang were Wendy Weber and Hayley Williams from Pembrokeshire College who presented another exciting UK CRF funded project aimed at increasing training provision in hospitality within the county through free courses including barista training, food hygiene etc. Part of their programme will help address the staff shortages in hospitality in Pembrokeshire by engaging potential employees in the 50+ age group – those looking for a different challenge, post retirement work or simply a change of sector. The college will be arranging an open day on the 26th April -3-5.30pm, where local tourism employers will pitch to attendees in the over 50's age group – to engage and encourage them to attend work experience with the view to part time/flexible employment – no previous experience will be required, as the college will provide all relevant training prior to starting the new position. Talking about this great project after the presentation Emma Thornton said

” The 50 + age group have tremendous experience and life skills which will compliment any organisation and help them to deliver exceptional visitor experiences “

The evening also saw the launch of the inaugural Visit Pembrokeshire 2022 Tourism Awards – which will take place on the 20th October 2022 at Crug Glas Country House nr. St Davids – applications will open towards the end of May. This will be a fantastic opportunity to recognise and celebrate the best of tourism and hospitality in Pembrokeshire! Watch out for more information on this, including how to enter shortly.

The evening closed with a much appreciated opportunity for networking and attendees were treated to a delicious range of canapes prepared and served by Pembrokeshire College Hospitality students, a wonderful end to the evening. Speaking at the end of the event Jane Rees-Baynes said “it's been fantastic to get back to in-person events once more – it's clear it's something that's especially important to our members and the wider trade. I would like to thank the team at Pembrokeshire College, all the attendees and the Visit Pembrokeshire team for an excellent event – the first of many”

To find out more about Visit Pembrokeshire, how to get involved  and be part of our growing community – visit www.visitpembrokeshire.com/industry