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RCT Tourism Strategy will be adopted by the Council

Following agreement by Cabinet, the Council will now adopt the proposed RCT Tourism Strategy to promote the County Borough to visitors – after the strategy was updated using feedback from a consultation earlier this year.

At the Cabinet meeting on Thursday, September 23, Members considered an Officer report which outlined feedback from the consultation exercise and presented the updated version of the strategy. The strategy commits to a number of set priorities which will be delivered over the coming years.

Thursday’s Cabinet report outlined the growth of the tourism sector over recent years, before the onset of the pandemic. In 2019, Rhondda Cynon Taf had 1.5 million-day visitors and more than 500,000 overnight visitors. The sector contributed £179m to the local economy, while more than 2,000 Full Time Equivalent jobs were supported by tourism in the County Borough.

The RCT Tourism Strategy targets five areas to maximise the local landscape and heritage – Product and Attractions; Accommodation; Accessibility, Infrastructure and Connectivity; Skills and Employment and Experience.

It intends to promote the County Borough as a tourist destination, encouraging visitors to communities and attractions such as Zip World Tower, Royal Mint Experience, National Lido of Wales, A Welsh Coal Mining Experience at Rhondda Heritage Park, and Dare Valley Country Park. A full version of the updated strategy is available to view as an Appendix to the Cabinet report.

The report also outlines some key findings from the five-week consultation, held from May 17, 2021. It asked residents, business owners and visitors for their thoughts on the draft strategy. A total of 321 responses were received, with 55% of respondents identifying as being Rhondda Cynon Taf residents.

In total, 87% of respondents said they agreed with the vision of the strategy and, in comments invited to be submitted as part of the process, talked about the County Borough having areas of natural beauty with lots of potential which need to be promoted. A total of 90% of respondents agreed that the local culture, heritage and landscape are our key strengths in the tourism offer – while more than 89% agreed with the aims of the strategy’s five key themes.

Some additional underlying themes were also referenced – including adding motorhomes to the Accommodation theme, and the importance of marketing and promotion. These considerations are now added to the updated strategy, along with other factors which needed to be included due to developments since the strategy was drafted – for example, the opening of Zip World Tower.

The draft strategy was discussed by the Finance and Performance Scrutiny Committee in July 2021, and Members agreed for it to be reported to Cabinet for final approval. Having considered the report and consultation feedback on Thursday, Cabinet Members agreed to approve the RCT Tourism Strategy.

Councillor Robert Bevan, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Enterprise, Development and Housing, said: “I’m pleased that the RCT Tourism Strategy has now been approved, and will be formally adopted to underpin the Council’s tourism priorities and efforts. Tourism will be one of our key growth industries as the pandemic continues, with people staying local and enjoying holidays locally where perhaps they have not done previously.

“The future is bright for tourism in Rhondda Cynon Taf, and I think staying local has allowed us all to appreciate what we have on our doorstep. We’ve seen the popular Zip World Tower open recently, coupled with our investment in Dare Valley Country Park and Ynysangharad War Memorial Park. It’s clear that tourism based on our landscape and heritage has enormous potential.

“The feedback received in the consultation was also very positive, with participants agreeing with the overall targets of the strategy and the five key themes presented. In consideration of this, Cabinet Members agreed with Officer recommendations for the Council to formally adopt the strategy.”