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Trade days help businesses learn how to enhance bay's popularity

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: April 30, 2014

Ten year-old Oscar Roe in the bar which forms part of the Dylan's Swansea exhibition at Swansea Museum. The exhibition was one of the attractions visited by tourism operators.

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IT is worth more than £360 million to the Swansea Bay economy, so tourism operators have been swotting up to give more value for money to visitors.

They have gone back to the classroom to improve their knowledge of local heroes and beauty spots.

Swansea Council hopes the more they know, the more visitors will enjoy their stay in the area — and spend more at the same time.

The authority has organised a number of specialist trade days for local businesses, such as hotels and bed and breakfasts, to make sure they are on top of as much local information as possible.

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Not surprisingly in the centenary year of his birth, Dylan Thomas and his Swansea links featured in one of the first trade days.

Funding from Gallu helped deliver an expert-led day that took in sights including the permanent Dylan Thomas exhibition at the Dylan Thomas Centre, Cwmdonkin Park, Dylan's birthplace at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, the Dylan's Swansea exhibition at Swansea Museum and the No Sign Wine Bar on Wind Street.

Claire Griffiths, from the Tourist Information Centre, said: "It was a fantastic, very informative day out. It has given us a great personal experience to pass on to our visitors."

Fiona Rickson, of Cwmshon Cottages in Pontardawe, said: "I will be sending all my guests to all the places we visited — it was a wonderful itinerary."

Matthew Hughes, of the Dylan Thomas House on Cwmdonkin Drive, said: "It's always wonderful to be able to showcase what Dylan's birthplace has to offer our visitors to fellow businesses and attractions in the area.

"In this hugely important year for Dylan Thomas, it's vitally important that visitors and locals alike realise just how important Swansea and 5 Cwmdonkin Drive are in the story of the world renowned poet and writer."

Another specialist trade day on May 15 will focus on the wonders of rural Swansea.

Councillor Nick Bradley, council cabinet member for regeneration, said: "It makes sense to share expert knowledge about topics including Dylan Thomas, because this year marks the centenary of his birth and tourism businesses will then be able to pass on information and tips to their visitors from all over the world.

"These specialist trade days are another example of the close ongoing partnership work between the public and private sector to improve the visitor experience in Swansea Bay. A destination management plan is also now in place between ourselves and the area's tourism businesses to highlight areas for improvement and monitor progress.

"This isn't just about together raising awareness of festivals like Dylan Thomas 2014 and our world class rural scenery — it's also about important initiatives like wi-fi hotspots and better signs to meet the needs and aspirations of visitors."

Latest figures show tourism was worth more than £360 million to the Swansea Bay economy in 2013 — 4 per cent more than in 2012. The new statistics also show over 4.3 million visitors came to Swansea Bay last year — about 200,000 more than the year before.

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