What Does The Chamber Do?
A quick round up of some of the Chamber’s achievements, actions, and involvements over the past year.
The Chamber ran a successful 2 year project Refreshing North Pembrokeshire (RNP) with a grant of £291,000 from the Coastal Communities Fund. This concluded in March 2017 with major investment in the meet and greet for visiting Cruise Ships at the port which came to be called Fishguard Bay Welcome (FBW). The FBW team of staff and volunteers has been jointly funded by Stena and the Chamber and has placed Fishguard as “the most welcoming port in the world” according to the feedback from cruise passengers and the cruise companies. An estimate of > £680,000 has come into our immediate area this year from the 28 cruise calls. More are expected next year.
The Chamber was able to purchase a former Army recruitment trailer which was adapted to promote Fishguard and area, with a grant of £4,000 from RNP. This has served well at the port during the cruise season and could do more with a supporting budget.
The Chamber has successfully won a grant of £17,000 from LEADER (funds from the EU) to develop boutique tours across North Pembrokeshire. This expects to start development work before the end of the year employing one person.
Our members have benefited from regular information to assist businesses, which comes from the Welsh Government or Pembrokeshire Tourism – with which we are also a member for your benefit. Our members qualify for a reduction in membership fee to Pembrokeshire Tourism.
The Chamber has joined with other Chambers in lobbying Government on business rates and has responded to enquiries from Government and others on a range of issues. Complaint about poor advice given to visitors about Fishguard has been taken up with Oriel y Parc.
The Chamber’s website, on which you have your own page showcasing your business, has been very well used by an average of 200 hits daily. This website is more than a business directory – it is the place for visitors to go for information on what is happening and for information about the area. Members qualify for a free page on this website www.gofishguard.co.uk
The Chamber’s Fishguard Bay App is well advertised in the car parks and at the train station. It has nearly 1500 users who, having downloaded it, can use that information wherever they go. This is a very quick way of seeing contact information for businesses. Our Facebook page has 659 followers.
The Chamber has led on the first Community Business Awards organised for Fishguard and Goodwick. With support from both members and the Town Council, the Awards, which are being decided by public voting, were presented at an event in Theatr Gwaun on November 13th.
The Chamber led on the Carnegie Twin Town initiative, having been selected to be one of 10 towns in the UK for this project. Following mutual and helpful exchange visits with our twin Berwick upon Tweed we both decided that our current work programme would not be helped further by continuing with the twinning operation. A digital audit on how our towns are using digital technology is now available on request from the Chamber secretary.
The Chamber convened a meeting for Goodwick businesses to learn how Goodwick is a model of the modern economy – one retailer, more eateries and serviced bed spaces than Fishguard but sustaining 37 businesses with an emphasis on personal service.
The Chamber has convened a meeting of a range of stakeholders to review signage in our twin towns; seeing current signage does not show this as a prime destination giving access to the National Park, the world famous coast path and the Last Invasion Tapestry. It is gratifying that the Town Council has set up a working group to focus on this aspect of promoting our towns.
The Chamber published On Our Doorstep in 2016 and 2017 as a way of promoting our twin town’s businesses to the wider area; it is planned to publish 20,000 copies of the blue booklet called Last Invasion Country which Brian Howells, the Chamber’s previous secretary, had published for several years. There is popular demand for this publication and businesses, events and attractions will be invited to advertise in it.
The Chamber’s secretary approaches all new business start-ups offering advice and support in matters of marketing, premises, training and funding needs, either directly or through other agencies. Always offering a friendly face and sometimes bringing other local businesses in to advise and help.
The Chamber has provided the tear off pads of town maps for use by any business as well as the Tourist Information Centre – available from the Secretary on request.
The Chamber is pleased to have secured sufficient coach drop off positions in the new Link Road scheme to be constructed next year. This will make it easier to attract coach tours into town some of which will come because the Chamber is a member of the UK Coach Tourism Association.
The Chamber is an active member of the new Pembrokeshire Enterprise Network, which means we can press more effectively for Government support services to be made available in the north of the county, such as the recent social media for business workshop, held in the Bay Hotel.
The Chamber has promised £500 as match funding to the County Council led INTERREG project which should bring more cash from this EU fund into our area with subsequent benefits from increased visitor spending, when the project is approved. Collaboration with two other Interreg projects is being explored with Aberystwyth University and Carmarthenshire CC, both of which would bring benefits to our area.
The Chamber plays a lead role in Fishguard and Goodwick Town Team that has brought £100,000+ into the twin towns on sundry projects, many of which were arranged by local people and organisations. As the Town Team looks to review its aims the Chamber proposes the Town Council will take more of a lead role, once it has established full communication systems with its partners, including the business community.
The Chamber hosted a well-attended public meeting on the Brexit process from David Hughes, the EU Commissioner for Wales on June 19.
The Chamber is exploring the potential of a beach enhancement project that would create a new tourist attraction area while also contribute to the longer term sea defence of the Parrog.
Our newly updated and highly visual Chamber Newsletter is sent to those who have signed up as “Friends of Fishguard” from the GoFishguard website.