Tourism Project: Accommodation Providers Grant Scheme
This project offered funding to hotels, B&Bs and other accommodation providers that allowed them to attain a better Visit Wales grading and/or to undertake work that would make their accommodation more appealing. The main aim of this fund was to support these businesses in their endeavours to provide a first class service to visitors to the County Borough. To achieve this, the scheme provided funding for small scale capital projects to help develop new businesses or upgrade existing facilities.
A part-time Grants Officer was employed from January 2009 until September 2011 to undertake the management and administration of the scheme and offer advice to potential applicants. By September 2011, 75 businesses had received advice, 29 grants had been distributed and 19 businesses, which included 7 new start-ups, benefitted from funding that totalled £96,000. One business that benefitted was Cwmshon Cottages, owned and run by Fiona and Andrew Rickson. Planning permission for two purpose-built buildings to provide a drying room and secure cycle store with hose-down area for each cottage was granted as a priority to attract and cater for walkers, cyclists and mountain bikers.
Tourism Project: The Tourism Coordinator
This project facilitated the creation of two Tourism Co-ordinator posts and the development of four stakeholder groups, set up in Neath, Swansea, Dulais and the Upper Amman Valley to identify and deliver priority tourism projects through the development of individual action plans for each area. All four action plans identified projects with the aim of establishing a more holistic set of tourism activities and attractions in our valleys and rural areas.
In total 79 organisations and individuals received 599 hours of assistance, ranging from business development advice to financial assistance for infrastructure projects. The project has raised the profile of the tourism sector in each valley and stakeholders now recognise tourism as a means to further develop the local economy. In particular, stakeholders have witnessed, first hand, how their local projects can feed into the wider tourism development of the area and the promotion of Neath Port Talbot as a place to visit. All stakeholders felt that the tourism action plans had been effective in directing investment into their valley.
Tourism Project: Conserving and Upgrading the Rural and Cultural Heritage in Neath Port Talbot
In 2007 the Grade II Citrus House, at the Historic Margam Park in Port Talbot was declared dangerous and closed to the public. Without use, the building deteriorated rapidly and was only saved from complete collapse by internal scaffold supports.
More recently, a survey was undertaken which identified that the abbey remains (chapter house and infirmary) were in a serious state of decay and urgent repairs were required to avoid collapse and secure the structures from further deterioration.
Margam Park is an important site of architectural, social, historical and cultural significance.
The derelict elements of the Citrus House were removed and replaced with a newly conserved facility which has had an immediate effect in improving the landscape and the environment within the conservation area. The Citrus House is now a vital resource for educational, business and tourist services in Neath Port Talbot. The addition of a toilet block, including disabled facilities, to the rear of the building has been an important benefit to visitors. New Interpretation Boards educate visitors about the history of the building.
Work was also undertaken to improve and make safe the Chapter House which is one of only two 12 sided Chapter Houses known in the UK and the Infirmary Ruins as further damage to these structures would have been inevitable without immediate investment.