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Plans afoot to help offer a boost to Gower businesses

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: February 23, 2013

By Helen Keates

Rhossili beach may have hit the headlines this week but locals say there is even more people need to know about Gower.

Rhossili beach may have hit the headlines this week but locals say there is even more people need to know about Gower.

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BEAUTIFUL Gower could soon have its own business improvement district (Bid) to help promote the peninsula better.

The idea has been touted as a way of bringing the people of Gower together to safeguard the future of the area.

Swansea city centre already has a Bid. But rural districts are few and far between in the UK, except for a similar organisation in Inverness.

The proposals follow a debate organised by the Institute of Welsh Affairs which brought together farmers, residents and business owners. They called for a better marketing strategy that was separate from that of Swansea, not just an "add-on".

John Ashley, a committee member of the Swansea Bay branch of the IWA, who reported on the meeting for the institute's magazine, said: "The forum was lively, and most importantly expressed a clearly declared desire to identify and take steps to create that sustainable future."

However, he added: "While lots of people were very positive about Gower, there was a lot of frustration that it was neglected and more needed to be done to market it. People realise there is so much potential there."

Mr Ashley said themes from the meeting included the need for one voice — "the whole is better than the sum of its parts" — claims no one is marketing Swansea strongly and the difficulties in obtaining planning permission.

He added: "Courtney Grove of Horton is a member of one of Gower's oldest farming families. He and his brother are fifth-generation Port Eynon lifeboatmen. His grandfather, a blacksmith, was lost in the 1916 lifeboat disaster.

"He told us of young people being driven away from family businesses by unaffordable housing, and of second homes lying fallow for most of the year. We also heard a phrase that must be key to creating sustainability: 'Visitors love Gower as much as us'."

One Gower business owner said signs and rubbish were a problem.

Marion Walters runs the five Blaen Cedi Farm Holiday Cottages at Penclawdd.

She told the meeting that visitors to the cottages were always very positive about the Gower and wanted to know where they could go and what they could do.

However, she said the problem with litter was "horrendous" and signage was "poor".

Mrs Walters too said Swansea and Gower were separate and needed to be treated like it.

Meanwhile, the Welsh Conservatives have called for more to be done following Rhossili being named best beach in Britain by TripAdvisor and third best beach in Europe and tenth best in the world in the 2013 Travellers' Choice Beach.

Suzy Davies, Shadow Minister for Tourism and South Wales West AM, called on the Welsh Government to do more to promote the area.

She said: "People will also be familiar with the beauty of our beaches because of their use as locations in film and TV productions. What they may not know is that those beaches are here in Wales. And how would they know if those responsible for promoting Wales don't tell them?"

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