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Source: Public Sector Executive Mar/Apr 12

PSE speaks to the Isle of Anglesey council’s new principal tourism development officer, Iwan Huws, about its new public-private partnerships.

Tourism is worth over £200m to the Isle of Anglesey economy, and is a major local employer, which is why the island’s council has decided to launch a new effort to work more closely with private sector tourism businesses and regional bodies to develop a new strategy.

The various groups have allied to form the Anglesey Destination Partnership, and have been surveying tourism businesses to find out what they think will be the important factors in growing the economy.

The moves are all part of a longer-term ‘destination management plan’, and an effort to work in new ways for the Isle of Anglesey County Council, which has come under pressure over governance problems. Its senior management is being restructured following criticisms from regulators, and commissioners sent in by the Welsh government have been running the authority.

Royal connection

Iwan Huws, newly-appointed principal tourism development officer at the council, said that as an employer of more than 4,000 people on the island, tourism is a major concern, and was given an “unexpected boost” by the decision of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge to live there.

He said: “Economically, tourism’s massively important for the island’s economy, it’s a big employer as well, and because of the way tourism is progressing in the UK, with more people staying at home, we try to market the island as a really good place to take your holiday.

“We’re working in public-private collaboration with the tourist trade on the island. Being an island is a unique selling point in itself, and we’ve got a superb 125-mile coast, with a coastal path going round it. It’s a really popular destination PSE speaks to the Isle of Anglesey council’s new principal tourism development officer, Iwan Huws, about its new public-private partnerships. for families, for activity holidays, and that sort of thing. It’s designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the majority of the coastline is recognised, and that recognition has the same status as a national park.

“The purpose of this destination management plan, and this collaborative work between the council and private sector, is to really up the gear for tourism, so that Anglesey becomes a destination that people want to visit, because of the superb natural beauty here and the excellent facilities.”

Finding the balance

But the council is clear that it does not want unlimited growth in visitor numbers; it wants ‘sustainable tourism’, which aids economic development, but does not prove damaging in environmental or conservation or heritage terms.

Huws explained: “Obviously tourism has a reputation, in a sense – if you over-exploit, you kill the golden goose. The big draw here in north west Wales in particular is the fantastic countryside and landscape; we’ve got Snowdonia national park, amazing countryside and coastline, so the reason people come to this part of the world, first off, is because of the reputation for natural beauty.

“From a sustainable tourism point of view, we want to develop the product in tandem with exploiting the natural resources, but not spoiling them, while making the tourist industry sustainable in its own right.”

Importantly, tourism is an area for the council that cuts across different departmental areas, including planning, countryside, economic development and heritage.

Huws said the destination management plan is about internal council working, as well as external relationships: “The purpose of setting off on this destination management journey is both for external collaboration with stakeholders and the trade, but there’s also an internal reason for doing it – making sure different services and departments within the local authority recognise the importance of tourism to what they do.

“Local government’s under fierce pressure to reduce costs, there are massive budget problems, so what are the services that are quite often looked at for savings? It could be as simple as closing the public toilets, but that would have a massive impact on the impression tourists have, as well as its impact on residents. Doing a bit of work on a rural road in August, again, could have a huge impact on the tourism trade. It’s about getting that through the mentality of local government, which is just as important as working externally with the trade.”

Working with others

He said there had been a “very good response rate” to the tourism survey, although the results had not yet been collated and analysed when PSE spoke to him.

The wider alliance with the national Visit Wales and regional Tourism Partnership North Wales is helping to “set the strategic context”, Huws said, and helping differentiate destinations based on their unique qualities.

Huws admitted that working in this way, with the private sector and other parts of the public sector, was a “new approach” for the council but said it should pay dividends.

He said: “There’s a lot of push on us to work across boundaries – and tourism doesn’t respect boundaries.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at [email protected]


Jajones   12/09/2012 at 17:33

The proposed development of Penrhos Nature Reserve will have a devastating effect on the local tourist economy of Holy Island:the open woodland on Holy Island Holyhead is an integral part of the 'clusters of attraction' that the Island has to offer. Holyhead's local economy should not be sacrificed by turning it into a camp where people can decamp from to visit the rest of Anglesey. Anglesey already has a plethora of Hotels and camping sites and all tourism studies Wales, Scotland and England clearly state that Open woodlands have a higher number of visitors than other attractions. Anglesey County Council should not make any decisions that will damage the local economy on Holy Island- destroying the open woodland (Penrhos) will have a devastating effect on this small Island.

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