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Cardiff MET Wales Ambassador Workshop

Tourism Ambassador Training in Wales: Best Practice and Lessons Learnt

Cardiff Met is the Wales partner in the Next Tourism Generation (NTG) Alliance that aims to help address digital and sustainability skills gaps in tourism and related sectors. Over the last ten years in different parts of Wales, various Tourism Ambassador training programmes have developed to help deliver destination management objectives. Ambassador programmes recruit and train people to be experts on their distinctive area and provide a unique and authentic experience for tourists imparting a “sense of place”. Training programmes increase customer care and digital skills and promote conservation of the natural environment and cultural heritage. Benefits to the destination from such programmes potentially include active networking, improved local product knowledge and communication, enhanced visitor experience and higher visitor numbers, spend and length of stay by presenting perspectives of Ambassadors and other organisations that attended. The workshop was a collaboration between the NTG project at Cardiff Met and Snowdonia National Park to develop an Ambassador training programme for Snowdon Mountain (Yr Wyddfa), the highest and most visited peak in Wales.  

 

Workshop on Tourism Ambassadors: sharing best practice

The free workshop for Snowdonia businesses – Tourism Ambassadors for Wales: Best Practice and Lessons Learnt – took place on June 20th 2019 at the Imperial Hotel, Llandudno in North Wales. The Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas opened the event. He highlighted that, “It is essential that visitors get consistent and engaging information that helps them have a genuine experience in an area, and engages them with all the things that make Wales special – from our bilingual culture to our iconic natural environment.  This is where local Ambassador schemes play an important role and this first pan-Wales workshop on Tourism Ambassadors is an excellent way to share best practice.”

 

 

Approximately 100 people attended the event chaired by Iwan Thomas, Chief Executive Officer of Pembrokeshire Local Action Network for Enterprise and Development. Ambassadors from Wrexham, Denbighshire, Brecon Beacons and the Gower talked about their schemes and the benefits for businesses and the destination.

 

A great opportunity to network and showcase an Ambassador scheme

 

Tracey Purnell, a Brecon Beacons National Park Ambassador said, “It was an extremely informative event and I thoroughly enjoyed the day. I had the opportunity to network with passionate people with the same passion and goal. It was also a great opportunity to showcase the fantastic scheme that Carol Williams, Brecon Beacons National Park Tourism Growth Officer, has created. The Ambassador scheme really does help us promote and protect the National Park and enhance the visitor experience.”

 

Ambassadors are a real bonus to a destination providing local knowledge

 

Dean Jeffery, a Gower Ambassador emphasized that, “It was a super event with opportunities to learn from other Ambassador schemes in Wales. Ambassadors are a real bonus to a destination, providing a friendly welcome and recommendations to visitors with local knowledge and a personal touch. It was an honour to be chosen alongside brilliant schemes in other areas – we must be doing something right in Gower, and we are glad to provide input for Snowdonia National Park. Several members of Tourism Swansea Bay are Gower Ambassadors and find it a benefit for their business.”

 

Public-private partnerships are key to the success of Ambassador schemes

 

Sam Regan, Chair of This is Wrexham that supports an established Ambassador scheme added, “It was a fantastic event and a great opportunity to not only showcase Wrexham but also to share in the success of the Ambassadors programmes taking place across the country. It is notable that although different areas approach their goals differently, all our objectives are aligned. Partnership between public and private organisations is key to success overall, and the work being done by everyone across Wales is having a big impact on the tourism industry.”

 

Best practice can be incorporated in the new Snowdon Ambassador scheme

 

Catrin Glyn, an Officer from the Snowdon Partnership highlighted that, “The workshop offered us at Snowdonia National Park Authority an opportunity to pick and choose the best aspects from different Ambassador schemes across Wales, which will enable us to design a sustainable and bespoke scheme for the area. Yr Wyddfa {Snowdon} and Eryri {Snowdonia} have a special place in so many people’s hearts, so it was extremely encouraging to have such a valuable discussion on the development of a scheme in Eryri. There are so many positives that we can take out of this event. The next step will be to continue our discussion with local residents and businesses to develop clear and coherent objectives as to what we aim to achieve.’’

 

Heini Jones from Cardiff Met said, “We really appreciated all those who attended, sponsored, exhibited and presented at this landmark workshop. The day exceeded everyone’s expectations. The event was very well attended by businesses, giving them the opportunity to learn from different types of Ambassador schemes. Participants discussed the potential benefits of a Yr Wyddfa Ambassador programme and shared ideas directly with Snowdonia National Park Authority. It was an important networking occasion that strengthened partnerships for the promotion of sustainable tourism development in Wales”.

 

Workshop sponsors

 

The Imperial Hotel, Retreats Group, RibRide, National Botanic Garden of Wales, Loving Welsh Food and GreenWood generously donated prizes for a Snowdon quiz. The Wales Tourism Alliance and MWT Cymru kindly supported the event. Paula Ellis, Group General Manager at the Retreats Group said, “Twr y Felin Hotel, Penrhiw Priory and Roch Castle were delighted to sponsor the inaugural event and offer prizes to stay at each of our venues. We look forward to welcoming each of the three winners to Pembrokeshire.”

 

Workshop exhibitors promoting sustainability and socially inclusive tourism

 

There was a range of exhibitors at the workshop. John Kinnear, Head of Programmes at the Family Holiday Association that gives struggling families British seaside trips was delighted to exhibit. John reflected that, “Many struggling families never take part in tourism so it was great to meet many people keen to work with us at the Family Holiday Association to help more families benefit from the fantastic experiences Wales has to offer.”

Exhibitor Craig Grimes, Managing Director at Experience Community, a not-for-profit organisation that provides films and information about walks and other leisure activities for disabled people in the UK provides said, “It was great to be part of the Tourism Ambassadors event, people were very interested in discussing what opportunities they could provide for disabled people. We spoke to bike hire companies, accommodation providers, outdoor activity centres and National Park staff.  It is encouraging to see that there’s a real possibility to develop fully inclusive tourism products in Wales.”

Other exhibitors at the event included:

  • Keep Wales Tidy runs Green Key and Blue Flag environmental accreditation schemes.

 

  • An ecomuseum – Ecoamgueddfa – digitally promoting community-based cultural tourism in the Llŷn Peninsula in Wales.

 

  • The Snowdonia Society works with local communities, organisations and businesses to conserve the nature, landscape and culture of Snowdonia.

 

  • Snowdonia Active who helped develop Adventure Smart that encourages tourists to consider whether they have the right knowledge and skills for adventure activities.

 

 

 

  • Llechi Cymru Wales Slate that aspires to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

 

Follow the efforts of the Next Tourism Generation via our website, Facebook, Twitter | #NTGskillsalliance or via LinkedIn

By Louise Dixey, Dr Sheena Carlisle and Heini Jones, Cardiff Metropolitan University

 

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