Raising the Standard

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					       Raising the Standard
     The Visitor Economy Strategy
           for the Dee Valley




            Volume I : Final Report
                           to

              Denbighshire County Council
Dee Valley Business Action Group (Rural Business Action)
                           by

             Parkin Heritage and Tourism
Chris Ledbury, Countryside and Interpretation Consultant
                    CONNOR & Co



                    September 2005
Contents

Executive Summary

1.   Background And Context

2.   Towards A Strategy

3.   Adopting A Market Led Approach

4.   Developing The Marketing Action Plan

5.   What Does This Mean In Terms Of Product Development?

6.   Establishing A Mechanism For Delivery
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY


1.        The Dee Valley Business Action Group (Rural Business Action), with financial assistance from
          the Welsh Development Agency and Cadwyn Clwyd, have sought a review of the current
          tourism performance of the Dee Valley within Denbighshire and proposals ‘to harness the
          area’s remarkable resources in order to deepen, broaden and add value to the experience of
          visiting the area by creating a recognisable and integrated product which draws on the area’s
          many distinctive features’.


2.        A small multi-disciplinary team of consultants was appointed to undertake the assignment
          comprising:

          *          Ian Parkin                      Parkin Heritage and Tourism

          *          Malcolm Connor                  CONNOR & Co Tourism Management Consultancy

          *          Chris Ledbury                   Countryside and Interpretation Consultant.


3.        The study has been undertaken by mean of:

          *          site appraisal

          *          extensive consultations

          *          background research

          *          client discussion and workshops

          *          team brainstorms.


4.        The study area is the Dee Valley from Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in the east to the Rhug Estate
          Organic Farm Shop to the west, the water catchment of the Berwyn to the south and
          Llantysilio and Ruabon Mountains to the north. In essence, it comprises three distinct
          components:

          *          Llangollen – the natural visitor focus

          *          Corwen – the traditional market town

          *          the rural Dee Valley.


5.        The initial analysis found there were serious shortcomings in:

          *          the identity of, and signage within, the Dee Valley

          *          the quality and extent of interpretation to help visitors and local people appreciate why
                     the area is so special

          *          the quality of the tourism product, service and customer care

          *          the quality of the public realm

          *          the current situation in relation to key projects.



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          There is a need to establish a credible destination brand for the area which reflects the
          product on the ground and to put the destination on the map.


6.        The study identified the current markets for the Dee Valley as:

          *          large numbers of day trips from the West Midlands and North West drawn by
                     Llangollen, its visitor attractions and the general scenery. These are primarily families

          *          transit traffic along the A5 making short stops for tea and toilet breaks with some
                     breaking their journey overnight

          *          around 7,000 boats per year coming to Llangollen on the canal : this is seasonal and
                     mainly groups of couples and families

          *          a small amount of business tourism and small meetings in local hotels

          *          short breaks in hotels, B&B and on caravan sites often as part of a touring holiday
                     and coming for walking, countryside and scenery. These are primarily older couples.

          *          a limited number of activity holidays

          *          the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod held in the Llangollen Royal
                     Pavilion which attracts 40,000-45,000 visits in the course of one week each July.
                     These are mainly day visitors yet the staying visitors fill all accommodation for miles
                     around

          *          a small percentage of people who own caravans on sites in the area and visit
                     throughout the year with family and friends.


7.        It estimated that the volume and value impact of visitors to Llangollen and the Dee Valley in
          2003 was estimated to be:

          *          980,000 visitors with:

                     -         815,000 on a day trip
                     -         73,000 staying in serviced accommodation
                     -         60,000 staying in non-serviced accommodation, and
                     -         32,000 staying with friends and relatives

          *          total annual visitor spend £42 million

          *          total visitor economy employment 900 people

          The overall product performance varies by sector, time and by area. There are significant
          peaks and troughs.


8.        Having assessed the current promotions it is clear that:

          *          the destination marketing is fragmented, under-resourced and not managed

          *          businesses are competing against each other for their share of a declining market
                     and selling on price. They are not working together to collectively grow the market
                     and compete through added value.




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9.        Having analysed current market and lifestyle trends and forecasts the study recommended
          that the visitor economy is a better and more inclusive description of the economy of the Dee
          Valley which includes public and private sector providers and support from the public sector.


10.       It proposes that the strategic marketing vision should be:


                              Establish the Dee Valley as a sustainable quality destination
                                           in the hearts and minds of visitors


          It provides a series of marketing objectives and recommends that the destination brand
          should be:


                                      The Dee Valley … the Best of the Welsh Borders


          It is an umbrella that provides flexibility for specific destinations and activities. The brand
          needs to be managed and communicated to the visitor economy in the Dee Valley.


11.       The Marketing Plan is based on four target markets:

          *          day visitors (including group visits)

          *          short breaks

          *          activity breaks

          *          meetings and conferences.

          It reviews each market and identifies specific product development.


12.       The Marketing Action Plan is based on a two stage approach:

          *          in the short term creating the brand and putting it on the visitor map

          *          developing product campaigns in the medium to long term.


13.       In the short term it is recommended to develop and launch a ‘Discover the Hidden Dee
          Valley : The Best of the Welsh Borders’ campaign for 2006 and 2007. This would
          comprise:

          *          an A3 folded down to A5 size full colour leaflet

          *          an inset for coach operators and group organisers

          *          a schools marketing pack

          *          a ‘where to stay’ list of quality assured properties

          *          a new ‘Visit the Dee Valley’ web site

          *          pilot on-line marketing through Google adwords



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          *          promoted through the Borderlands campaign

          *          PR to build awareness in the media.

          A budget cost for this package of activity is around £50,000 with an estimated £30,000
          in core funding and £20,000 in business support and sponsorship (excluding staff time
          and costs).


14.       The medium to long term action is essentially an evolution of the short term action. The
          ‘Discover the Hidden Dee Valley’ content will need to be realigned to reflect new features eg.
          the railway link and a ‘food and drink/country walking’ initiative which could be branded
          ‘Welsh Country Walking in the Dee Valley’. This would have:

          *          an A4 full colour brochure which would be distributed free through TIC’s (30,000 plus
                     print run)

          *          proactive direct mail campaign

          *          targeted inclusion of the flyer in key publications (200,000 plus print run)

          *          central reservation system through the web site

          *          increased number of quality assured properties involved.

          The total cost of this package of activity would be in the region of £100,000 per annum
          with an estimated £60,000 core funding and £40,000 from business partners and
          sponsorship (excluding staff time and costs).


15.       The report goes on to consider product development to enhance the visitor experience and
          in particular:

          *          visitor information and orientation

          *          the enhancement of the attractions and interpretation

          *          maximising the potential of Llangollen

          *          maximising the potential of Corwen

          *          the wider infrastructure including activity tourism

          *          maximising the cultural diversity of the area.


16.       In terms of welcome and orientation it recommends:

          *          the provision of eye-catching boundary signage into the Dee Valley based on the
                     Dee Valley brand

          *          the development of a Dee Valley Information Point which is located in laybys on the
                     main roads, in key car parks in Llangollen and Corwen and at the natural gateways
                     into the valley

          *          representing Llangollen TIC as Llangollen and Dee Valley TIC

          *          promoting Llangollen Museum as an important gateway to the valley for those who
                     want to explore the subject in more depth


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          *          introducing the Dee Valley Information Point at places which are concentrations of
                     visitor activity including attractions, viewpoints, beauty spots, railway stations, village
                     and archaeological sites

          *          village information points using shop/post office, pubs, petrol station etc.


17.       The report goes on to highlight the importance of interpretation as a medium by which to
          engage visitors and local people, enhance awareness and understanding, appreciate the
          significance of the area and to influence attitudes and behaviour. It identifies an overarching
          interpretive theme as:


               The Dee Valley is a special place where you can enjoy wonderful scenery, Welsh
                        history and culture and active and exciting outdoor activities


          It goes on to identify three key interpretive themes:

          *          the Dee Valley is a vital leisure resource used by many visitors every year as
                     somewhere beautiful and natural to relax

          *          man has lived, worked and worshipped here for 5,000 years and you can find
                     fascinating evidence in this beautiful landscape if you take the trouble to look

          *          the Dee Valley has been an historic route for communications through road, rail and
                     canal for thousands of years.

          Interpretation is delivered by many providers and it is recommended that an Interpretation
          Forum be established to achieve coordination, joined up thinking and partnership working to
          ensure high quality and innovative interpretive provision.


18.       The report makes a series of recommendations as to how some of the key attractions can be
          enhanced. In particular it identifies the potential to open up some of the more important and
          picturesque churches including Llantysilio and Corwen. It also draws attention to the value of
          the attractions working together:

          *          through networking

          *          exchanging intelligence (including undertaking an annual visitor survey)

          *          participating in joint promotions within the Marketing Plan

          *          considering the introduction of a Dee Valley ‘passport’ for those attractions which
                     charge

          *          looking to innovative use of resources eg. the historic car collection of the Llangollen
                     Motor Museum for Dee Valley Tours etc.


19.       The report identifies a range of initiatives to raise the image and profile of Corwen
          including:

          *          upgrading the car parks

          *          extending the railway to Corwen (and offering a park and ride facility for those
                     travelling from the west)



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          *          developing a strong link between the station platform and the town centre including
                     the introduction of commercial elements

          *          developing the cultural heritage of the town, and particularly Owain Glyndŵr, through
                     the creation of a community archive and resource centre linked to an enhanced town
                     trail

          *          drawing out the Welshness of the town by introducing signs and menus in Welsh,
                     introducing Welsh in greetings to visitors as well as cultural events and activities in the
                     town

          *          developing the climbing wall in Peny y Pigyn quarry

          *          raising money as a community to undertake the Feasibility Study into the future of the
                     Pavilion in Corwen

          *          developing walking and cycling routes

          *          establishing training programmes for businesses in relation to creating the Corwen
                     visitor experience

          *          promoting the Leisure Centre as a resource for visitors as well as local people

          *          encouraging shops and pubs to be more visitor focused and accommodation
                     providers to be quality assured

          *          establishing a western gateway into the valley at Rhug Organic Farm.


20.       Similarly, there are a wide range of recommendations in terms of Llangollen including:

          *          greatly enhanced entrance signs, white on brown signage, fingerpost signage and
                     visitor orientation in car parks

          *          landscaping the car parks and introducing CCTV

          *          visitor management (including park and ride using the Royal Pavilion)

          *          adopting more visitor focused opening hours

          *          environmental improvement and townscape programmes

          *          developing an attractive direct linkage between Llangollen Horse Drawn Boat Centre
                     and the new mooring basin and the town centre

          *          investigate street café and restaurant opportunities

          *          introduce ban on street drinking except pavement cafes

          *          investigate the appointment of a Town Centre Manager.


21.       At the same time we are conscious of the importance of visitors to the village communities :
          this must be promoted through walking, cycling, buses and trains whilst ensuring that visitors
          are managed to minimise the effect on local people. Village shop/post offices or pubs should
          act as a Dee Valley Information Point with the expectation that they will move towards
          providing electronic information over the next few years.




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22.       The report highlights the potential to develop the walking product strengthening links with the
          railway and public transport including a ‘Dee Valley Hopper’ bus service. It recognises the
          importance of activity tourism and suggests the establishment of a Dee Valley Activity
          Holiday Group to provide a focus for networking, training, collaborative marketing and raising
          standards. It emphasises the importance resolving the present impasse in relation to angling
          and canoeing which is losing considerable sums of money to the local economy.


23.       Mountain biking and family cycling are important and have potential. There is a need to
          consider the provision of essential facilities for mountain bikes. Climbing is an important
          element of the activity holiday package and should be promoted. Eco-tourism, in the context
          of the outstanding bird life and biodiversity of the valley, adds another dimension.


24.       There is a concern about illegal off-road motor biking : although successful partnership
          working between the police and Countryside Service has borne fruit in 2005 there is a need
          for suitable permanent venues for this sport. The success of initiatives in North Lanarkshire
          and the Brecon Beacons illustrate what can be achieved.


25.       The report emphasises the cultural importance of the valley with the Llangollen International
          Musical Eisteddfod, the Fringe, Llangollen Food Festival, other small events around Llangollen
          and the strong Welsh cultural traditions of Corwen and the rural Dee Valley. The strength of
          the Welsh language offers opportunities:

          *          to promote indigenous cultural activity including folk dancing, music, poetry and
                     storytelling

          *          the use of the Welsh language in signage, menus, greetings and interpretive initiatives

          *          the development of small events and festivals at key sites throughout the valley

          *          encouraging the use of local food through the Glyndŵr Farmers Market, the WI Market
                     and Rhug Organic Farm Shop and in pubs, restaurants and hotels which can be
                     promoted through a marketing leaflet.


26.       We propose that the project embraces the concept of Integrated Quality Management which
          should be a continuous process including:

          *          understanding visitor needs

          *          setting standards

          *          identifying training needs and delivering training courses geared to efficient business
                     development

          *          dissemination of market intelligence

          *          monitoring and evaluating the impact of tourism on the local environment and the
                     communities.


27.       We propose that the project should be called The Dee Valley Visitor Economy Initiative.
          The Dee Valley Business Action Group should oversee the project establishing a Visitor
          Economy Task Force led by a Project Director. A Dee Valley Interpretation Forum and
          Dee Valley Activity Holiday Group should also be established.




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28.       The next steps involve:

          *          seeking the approval of the Dee Valley Business Action Group, the County Council,
                     Cadwyn Clwyd, WDA and WTB to the strategy as the vision for the way forward

          *          to establish the Dee Valley Visitor Economy Initiative

          *          to seek ‘buy in’ from the business and local community to the vision through a series
                     of consultation events

          *          to produce a phased, prioritised and costed 3 year Action Plan and seek funding to
                     start to deliver the Visitor Economy Strategy.


29.       We have proposed that serious consideration is given to the appointment of a Town Centre
          Manager who shares their time between Corwen and Llangollen with the objective of
          strengthening the visitor economy of both towns.


30.       We have emphasised the need for monitoring and evaluation of the strategy and identified a
          number of evaluation techniques. We have gone on to highlight the importance of
          maintenance and management to ensure the overall visitor experience created within the
          Dee Valley is of the highest quality. This includes:

          *          road signage

          *          sense of arrival and welcome

          *          quality of car parking and toilets

          *          quality and availability of visitor orientation and information services

          *          overall environmental quality of the area

          *          quality and diversity of the retail and catering and hours of opening

          *          customer care

          *          attention to detail.

          Each element is crucial to visitor perceptions. Effective delivery of each component is crucial.
          The area will ultimately stand or fall on the quality of the visitor experience.


31.       We believe the report provides a realistic and objective assessment of the current situation
          from which a wide range of recommendations flow. The Dee Valley deserves a concerted
          approach to repositioning the visitor economy and will benefit enormously from a strategic
          approach based on Integrated Quality Management.

          We commend the Dee Valley Visitor Economy Strategy to you.


Ian Parkin
Malcolm Connor
Chris Ledbury

September 2005




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1.        BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT

101       Introduction

          The Dee Valley, and Llangollen in particular, has long been acknowledged as a visitor
          destination. Indeed, it was one of the earliest places people visited with the development of
          the railways from the 1850’s. They were attracted by its inherent beauty and heritage and this
          led to the development of hotels and restaurants coupled with activities, attractions and events
          to entertain them.

          It has always been a popular venue and although the nature of tourism has changed radically
          over the last 20 years visitors continue to come by car and, to a less extent, by coach. This
          has been reinforced over the past 60 years by the success and growing reputation of the
          Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod which occurs annually in early July.

          In many ways Llangollen has been a victim of its own success. As a small market town the
          sheer volume of visitor numbers has led to a range of facilities far beyond what it could
          reasonably have expected. Tourism providers have become complacent and there is growing
          evidence that the town has not kept up with the expectations of visitors.

          Corwen, by contrast, has never had a tourism base and has declined following the demise of
          the railway and changes in agriculture. The town suffers from the busy A5 passing along its
          main street. Despite environmental improvement and townscape schemes the community is
          unable to sustain a thriving town centre. The businesses do not help themselves by adopting
          traditional shop opening practices, there is only one restaurant in the town and the pubs do
          not serve food in the evening.

          The valley, however, is outstandingly beautiful and is increasingly being used for countryside
          recreation with the range of activities including walking, cycling, climbing, fishing, canoeing
          and even gorge walking. It has much to offer and over the past few years the County Council
          and the business community have been working hard to devise a long term and sustainable
          future which brings jobs and prosperity to the area.


102       The Need For A Study

          It is felt that there is potential for enhancing and conserving the Dee Valley’s resources in
          order to deepen, broaden and add value to the experience of visiting the area. This would
          create a recognisable, well presented and integrated product drawing upon the area’s special
          qualities and distinctiveness. It is envisaged that this could include amenity improvements,
          access improvements, enhanced interpretation and visitor orientation coupled with links to
          private sector tourism businesses and the whole underpinned by marketing and branding of
          the product.

          The vision is the provision of a coherently themed and extensively interpreted and linked
          experience of the area’s unique assets of geology, archaeology, natural environment, access
          and biodiversity using walking, cycling, public transport and motoring to create an enjoyable,
          informative and varied experience of the area that would have broad appeal. Sustainable
          development is key : it is essential to balance the need to enhance the overall visitor
          experience without affecting the quality of the environment visitors are coming to see whilst, at
          the same time, minimising the impact of visitors on the daily lives of local people.

          There have been a number of studies over recent years which have tried to address these
          issues. However, the Dee Valley Business Action Group (Rural Business Action) acting as
          client, with financial assistance from the Welsh Development Agency and Cadwyn Clwyd,
          believe it is important to prepare an Interpretive Strategy and Tourism Marketing Action
          Plan which will:

          *          harness the area’s resources in order to deepen, broaden and add value to the
                     experience of visiting the area


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          *          create a recognisable, well presented and integrated product which draws on the
                     area’s many distinctive features

          *          realise the economic potential of enhanced visitor provision without degrading the
                     very resource visitors are coming to enjoy

          *          utilise the enhanced product to attract new customers

          *          market the area to the more discerning visitor from the UK and beyond

          *          create opportunities to relate marketing to conservation.


103       The Brief

          The brief for the study was broken down into three stages:

          Phase 1

          *          undertake extensive site survey

          *          undertake extensive consultations

          *          assess the existing and potential market

          *          prepare an inventory of heritage sites and resources assessing their visitor relevance
                     and tourism potential

          *          identify key interpretive themes and how they might be promoted

          *          present findings and outline strategy to Business Action Group.

          Phase 2

          *          undertake a more detailed asset survey of the sites identified as having visitor
                     potential

          *          prepare draft a Interpretive Strategy

          *          assess existing interpretive and visitor provision and make recommendations as to
                     how the presentation of the key sites can be enhanced including interpretive and
                     associated infrastructure

          Phase 3

          *          prepare a Tourism Marketing Strategy for how the area’s heritage can be effectively
                     marketed taking into account the existing marketing initiatives of individual attractions,
                     activities and heritage sites and the wider tourism marketing initiatives

          *          assess the economic benefit that will be generated from the proposals

          *          pull together the overall document into a cohesive, phased and costed Interpretive
                     and Tourism Marketing Strategy.


104       The Study Team

          After a competitive process a small multi-disciplinary team of consultants was appointed
          comprising:


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          Ian Parkin                      Parkin Heritage and Tourism

          Malcolm Connor                  CONNOR & Co Tourism Management Consultancy

          Chris Ledbury                   Countryside and Interpretation Consultant.


105       Study Methodology

          The study has been undertaken by means of:

          *          site appraisal

          *          extensive consultations (Appendix A)

          *          background research (Appendix B)

          *          client discussion and workshops

          *          team brainstorm.

          To assist the study the client agreed to purchase from CACI Limited a Population Profile
          based on the 2001 census for the 30, 60 and 90 minute drive time of Llangollen.


106       The Study Area

          We have taken as the study area the Dee Valley from the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in the east to
          the Rhug Estate Organic Farm Shop in the west. In relation to the north and south of the
          valley we have broadly taken the water catchment of the Berwyn to the south and Llantysilio
          and Ruabon Mountains to the north. We have included the Horseshoe Pass and Ponderosa
          together with the village of Gwyddelwern to the north and west and the villages of Cynwyd and
          Llandrillo along the Dee south west of Corwen.


107       Study Management And Acknowledgements

          The consultancy team has been managed by Jeremy Knibbs Business Development
          Advisor, Denbighshire County Council who is the Co-ordinator for the Dee Valley Business
          Action Group. He has established a small Project Steering Group comprising:

          Wyn Roberts                     Welsh Development Agency

          Lisa Orhan                      Cadwyn Clwyd

          Ian Parry                       Town Clerk, Llangollen Town Council

          Nigel Davies                    Chairman, Corwen Partnership

          Nick Critchley                  Senior Countryside Warden for South Denbighshire.

          We are grateful for the time, advice and support they have given the team during the course of
          the study.

          We have also consulted widely in the course of the work. Almost everyone we have spoken
          with has been enthusiastic about the Dee Valley and its potential. We are grateful for the help
          and assistance freely given and trust our work will help to make a real difference.




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108       Structure Of The Report

          In the first stage of the study we undertook an initial assessment of the valley following site
          appraisal, consultations and desk research. In it we:

          *          reviewed the tourism market

          *          assessed the resources

          *          identified and assessed key sites of visitor relevance

          *          identified a number of interpretive themes which encapsulate what we see as the
                     essence of the valley

          *          identified the key issues which are evident

          *          suggested the key strands of a strategy.

          This was presented to the Business Action Group on 2 June 2005. Following lively discussion
          and feedback we have:

          *          undertaken further consultation in and around Corwen

          *          investigated best practice arrangements concerning angling and canoeing

          *          held specific discussions on marketing issues

          *          presented the essence of our recommendations to a meeting of the Business Action
                     Group on 20 July 2005.

          We have presented our findings in two documents under the banner:


                                                    Raising the Standard
                                      The Visitor Economy Strategy for the Dee Valley


          Volume I is the FINAL REPORT which sets out our proposals covering:

          *          marketing strategy

          *          product development

          *          interpretive approach

          *          mechanism for delivery.

          Volume II is the SUPPORTING INFORMATION and TECHNICAL APPENDICES.                           This
          includes the augmented first stage report plus a series of Technical Appendices.

          This represents the culmination of all our work and provides a clear framework of action to
          maximise the tourism potential of the Dee Valley within Denbighshire for the benefit of the
          local economy.


109       Overall Conclusions

          What is clear is that the Dee Valley is one of the most beautiful and accessible parts of Wales.
          It is already an established destination with around 1 million visitors per annum and has an


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          extensive and essentially good but variable quality visitor infrastructure. However, it is under
          performing and has lost its sense of purpose and direction.

          This report includes an objective and holistic appraisal of the existing visitor economy and has
          put forward a Tourism Marketing Strategy and wide ranging recommendations as to how the
          tourism product can be improved. The project has been called the Dee Valley Visitor
          Economy Initiative. The report has identified a mechanism for effective delivery which is
          dependant on partnership working between the public and private sector under the leadership
          of a Project Director. It stops short of providing a phased and costed Action Plan which it is
          envisaged should be the initial task of the Director and proposed Visitor Economy Task
          Force.


110       Next Steps

          We recommend that the report should be treated as a Vision and Strategy for consultation.
          It is important that it is first adopted by the Dee Valley Business Action Group, the County
          Council and the potential funders as the way forward. Funding support is required to create
          the post of Director and provide better office and administrative facilities to allow the project to
          be implemented to the highest professional standards. The current structure and facilities are
          totally inadequate.

          At the same time the Business Action Group should establish a Visitor Economy Task Force
          which should have the responsibility for the delivery of the strategy. It should widen its
          representation to include other key players in the visitor economy.

          The next step is to achieve ‘buy in’ of the local community and the business community. We
          have suggested:

          *          the Visitor Economy Conference held in September 2005 has kick-started the
                     process

          *          the strategy should be designed and published as an 8 page bilingual summary
                     which is sent to every household and business in and around the area. A simple
                     exhibition should be prepared and taken around the valley providing drop-in sessions
                     at which people can come and express their views and opinions

          *          the Visitor Economy Task Force should then take these observations and opinions
                     and produce a summary document with 3 year Action Plan which represents the
                     way forward.


111       Postscript

          We believe the report provides a realistic and objective assessment of the current situation
          from which a wide range of recommendations flow. The Dee Valley deserves a concerted
          approach to repositioning the visitor economy and will benefit enormously from a strategic
          approach based on Integrated Quality Management.

          We commend this Final Report to you.



                                                                                                    Valle Crucis
Pontcysyllte                                                                                        Abbey
  Aqueduct




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            THE OUTSTANDING ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY OF THE DEE VALLEY




                                                                    View of Llangollen from the Hooson Monument




                   View of Castell Dinas Bran form the
                                    Hooson Monument




                                                                    Creigiau Eglwyseg




                                       River Dee at Carrog




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2.        TOWARDS A STRATEGY

201       Introduction

          The research and consultation identified a host of opportunities and issues that need to be
          addressed. In this section we provide an overview of the Dee Valley, draw out the key issues
          and identify some important principles in relation to the evolving strategy.


202       An Overview of the Dee Valley

          The Dee Valley has three distinct parts:

          Llangollen

          Llangollen was an important centre for the flannel industry and later developed as an inland
          resort during Victorian times. It continues to be a popular ‘day out’ destination and its location
          on the A5 brings a lot of passing trade although this route is less important since the advent of
          the improved A55. It is often used as a quick stopover by coach visitors and other transit traffic
          bringing limited economic benefit and creating visitor management problems at peak times.

          It is a small yet attractive town in a dramatic riverside setting dominated by the surrounding
          steep hills and overlooked by the ruins of Castell Dinas Bran. There is a cluster of attractions
          with the steam railway, Llangollen Canal, Plas Newydd, Valle Crucis Abbey, Llangollen
          Museum and Llangollen Motor Museum. The town has a range of restaurants and small gift
          shops. Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod brings a large number of visitors for a
          week each July. There is also a significant concentration of accommodation in and around
          Llangollen chiefly in the form of hotels and guesthouses.

          Corwen

          Corwen is situated on the River Dee 10 miles west of Llangollen. It is a small market town
          dominated by the A5 but has a good range of shops, pubs, cafes and hotels/guest houses to
          serve the town and its hinterland but no built attractions. There is an attractive parish church
          and a few historic buildings that add character to the town. There are plans to extend the
          Llangollen Steam Railway to Corwen including the development of a station, shops and other
          facilities on Corwen Common. The Corwen Pavilion is in need or urgent investment. The town
          is surrounded by beautiful scenery. People access the Liberty Hall section of the moor from
          Corwen whilst there are public footpaths onto the Berwyn from Llidiart-y-Parc and Cynwyd.

          The Rural Dee Valley

          The Dee Valley is an attractive, dramatic valley and offers opportunities for walking, water-
          sports and outdoor activities with some packaged breaks on offer. It has a less remote feel
          than the Ceiriog Valley as the A5 is the traditional transit route across North Wales. Having
          said that it becomes much quieter beyond the Bala A494(T) intersection except at peak
          holiday times.

          The area contains attractive scenery encompassing the Berwyn Mountains, the river valley of
          the Dee and known landmarks such as the Horseshoe Pass although it is overshadowed by
          Snowdonia to the west. There are currently no AONB’s (although there are plans to extend the
          Clwydian Range AONB to include the Dee Valley) but there are a number of SSSI's. The
          Berwyn, Llantysilio and the Ruabon Mountains are a Special Area of Conservation as is the
          Dee Valley itself.

          Other important features include the Llangollen Canal with its two famous dramatic aqueducts
          at Pontcysyllte and Chirk and the River Dee. Several long distance footpaths pass through the
          area including Offa's Dyke whilst the Dee Valley Way has recently been opened linking
          Llangollen and Corwen along the north side of the valley.



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          The area has a rich history with a number of notable heritage sites and buildings including
          iron-age hillforts, castles, Rhug Chapel, Plas Newydd, Valle Crucis Abbey, Llangar Church,
          Glyndŵr’s Mount etc. Transport heritage is strong with the canal, steam railway and A5 which
          is designated and signed as a historic route through to Holyhead.

          There are myths and legends associated with many of these sites. The book ‘Keys of Avalon’
          sparked off interest in the links with the Arthurian legends (Castell Dinas Bran is reputedly the
          resting-place of the Holy Grail). Other associations include the strong links with Owain
          Glyndŵr and the historic kingdom of Edeyrnion.

          The area's natural heritage is one of its greatest strengths offering access to a wide range of
          activities. The full potential of these has yet to be developed and the area does not have a
          particularly high profile as an activity destination. There are a few multi-activity operators
          active in the area.


203       Key Issues

          From our research and consultation we have identified the following issues:

          Identity and Signage

          *          the lack of any identity for the Dee Valley. There is no boundary signage ‘Welcome to
                     the Dee Valley’ or threshold markers and certainly no white on brown destination
                     signage on the key routes which highlight entry to the area eg. on the A483 (from the
                     north), A5 (from the south and the west) or the A494 and A5104

          *          similarly the entrance signs into Llangollen and Corwen do not highlight what is
                     available in the respective towns and where to go to find it

          *          there is no effective visitor information or orientation on the key access roads in the
                     form of a Dee Valley Information Point that could raise the image and profile of the
                     valley with introductory text, high quality map showing what there is to see and do, a
                     changeable element which can provide information on forthcoming events and
                     activities and where to go for further information

          *          there is a need for high quality valley-wide visitor orientation in all key car parks and at
                     the key destinations and attractions throughout the area : visitors need to know what
                     they can see and do in the area

          *          there is a need for comprehensive white on brown signage to attractions and other
                     tourism providers eg hotels

          *          there is an opportunity to draw visitors into the valley from the west as well as the
                     east: a gateway visitor centre (or shelter) at the Rhug Organic Farm Shop which
                     attracts around 250,000 visitors per annum would ‘reach out’ to people who perhaps
                     do not know what the area can offer


          Interpretation

          *          there is nowhere that introduces and presents the story of the Dee Valley and minimal
                     or no interpretation on many sites

          *          there is no guidebook that introduces the area and its special qualities and helps
                     visitors discover what there is to see and do : this would complement and support the
                     plethora of leaflets on the individual attractions




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          Quality and Customer Care

          *          whilst there are Business Group’s in the individual towns there is no co-ordinated
                     approach to shop opening hours, or indeed to the concept of quality and customer
                     care : there is a case for the Business Group’s to sign up to the principles of
                     Integrated Quality Management

          *          there is a real issue in attracting quality staff (particularly chefs) : everyone who
                     interfaces with visitors is an ambassador for the area and should be trained in
                     customer care and knowledge of the area. It is essential to provide a warm welcome
                     eg to meet, greet and say farewell to visitors in Welsh

          *          there appears to have been little effort to develop joint ticketing and joint marketing of
                     the attractions : everyone seems to ‘do their own thing’

          *          there appears to be a general complacency that businesses do not have to work to
                     attract visitors. The market is changing and there is a need to be much more market
                     focused in every aspect of the industry

          *          accommodation are not necessarily quality assured which gives no consistent
                     reassurances to visitors : many other destinations are attempting to maximise the
                     number of quality assured properties so the Dee Valley is slipping behind as new joint
                     promotions can only feature quality assured property


          Public Realm

          *          first impressions of the two towns when travelling along the A5 and A539 is poor.
                     Derelict buildings, industrial premises, the general visual attractiveness of buildings
                     coupled with poor environmental management detracts from the quality of the visitor
                     experience

          *          similarly, the main car parks in both towns require significant visual enhancement
                     whilst the key buildings would benefit from floodlighting

          *          car parking is perceived to be a serious issue in Llangollen and the use of the Royal
                     Pavilion site (which is close to the town centre) with integrated park and ride may well
                     be part of the solution

          *          Corwen does not have a USP at the moment : the key opportunity seems to be
                     activity tourism including climbing, canoeing, mountain and trail biking

          *          the river is underused. The impasse surrounding the conflicting demands of canoeing
                     and fishing are losing the area significant economic benefit : an acceptable
                     compromise is urgently required. There is a need to learn from experience elsewhere

          *          the churches and chapels are a remarkable, but unexploited resource, but most are
                     closed and there seems no way to be able to get a key. There are programmes in
                     other parts of the UK where churches are open every day manned by volunteers
                     linked to church trail publications. Alternatively, arrangements can be made to borrow
                     the key from a local shop/person

          *          the issue of trail biking on the mountain tops needs cohesive and sustained action by
                     the Countryside Service in liaison with the police : at the same time the potential to
                     develop a couple of properly developed and managed trail bike circuits in appropriate
                     locations (perhaps a quarry or forest off the beaten track) are being investigated.
                     Ideally, there should be one to the north and one to the south of the valley. However,
                     there is a concern that rough moorland may well have greater appeal in the long run
                     compared to a formal track


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          Key Projects

          *          the Royal Pavilion site is developing an active events programme throughout the year
                     but it is clearly underused and has significant opportunities to expand its activities.
                     Events need to be a key ingredient of the overall tourism product but there needs to
                     be greater collaboration with all members of the Business Group to maximise the
                     potential all round

          *          Corwen Pavilion is an emotive issue. It has been an important part of the life of the
                     town for 75 years and has attracted the biggest names in Wales. However, it is way
                     ‘past its sell by date’ and there are problems in getting the money together to
                     undertake a detailed Feasibility Study. Whilst Corwen wants a new Pavilion which
                     could, potentially, make a significant contribution to attracting visitors to the town it is
                     difficult to see where the money will come from. The community will need to take
                     much more concerted ‘self help’ action if it truly wants such a facility

          *          there is a strong case to generate the funding to extend the railway line to Corwen
                     although there are various issues regarding the extended length of journey, ticket
                     price, location of the station and the quality of the experience that exists when the
                     visitor arrives in Corwen : real effort needs to be made to enhance the environmental
                     quality and commercial product of the town over the next few years

          *          there is considerable scope for family open boating between Corwen and the
                     Horseshoe Falls and canoeing/rafting between Horseshoe Falls and Llangollen Bridge

          *          there seems to be a real opportunity to develop a restaurant experience on the railway
                     and canal

          *          the beautiful countryside of the whole valley has great potential to expand the walking
                     and cycling opportunities

          *          it is said the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod is getting busier but
                     attendees do not spend in the town? Is this true? How do we change this?

          *          is it possible to introduce music and storytelling in the pubs to add value to the Dee
                     Valley experience?

          These and other issues need to be considered in developing an integrated strategy for the
          way forward.


204       Creating The Brand

          There is a need to create a credible destination brand for the area. It needs to reflect the
          product on the ground.

          Arguably, Llangollen is a well known destination. The Dee Valley is probably lesser known and
          carries an expectation that it covers the whole valley from the source to the river mouth. It
          could also be confused with the Dee in Scotland. This should be tested through consumer
          research.

          The core values of the destination need to be defined and agreed by the stakeholders. It then
          needs to be developed as a visual identity, communicated to businesses in the visitor
          economy and used to underpin all marketing. There needs to be a brand manager and
          dedicated branding resources.




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205       Putting The Destination On The Map

          There are two main routes to market the area and both are relevant:

          *          using the existing channel through the Borderlands > North Wales > Wales > Britain.
                     Hence, creating a destination profile within the Borderlands campaigns carries right
                     through to the work done in the UK and abroad by WTB and VisitBritain

          *          creating new routes for the destination brand by identifying specific market segments
                     and developing campaigns to generate new business.

          This has implications in terms of resources and timescales.

          Marketing resources are needed. Who will do the marketing work? The Royal Pavilion and
          Dee Valley Rural Business Action are co-funding a new marketing post for Llangollen. This
          person will have the responsibility and the remit to cover the Royal Pavilion and the town but
          not the wider Dee Valley. Funding will be needed to carry out campaigns that can compete
          with places like the Peak District and Derbyshire.

          Finally timescales need to be considered. There are product development and brand
          development tasks to be considered. There is a need to encourage more accommodation to
          become quality assured. Hence, a realistic programme might see a campaign in 2006 that
          aims to generate new business in 2007.


206       Conclusion

          We now understand the key issues that are confronting the area and this provides the basis to
          enable us to devise a realistic and achievable strategy.




                                                                         Ponderosa cafe




                                       Worlds End




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3.        ADOPTING A MARKET LED APPROACH

301       Introduction

          In this section we describe our proposed Tourism Marketing Plan for the Dee Valley. It is
          based on the market appraisal set out in Volume II : Section 2 and sits alongside the
          complementary tourism development and interpretive initiatives described in Sections 4 and 5
          below.

          The study brief states the marketing and branding of the product must underpin the proposals.
          It refers to marketing the area with product provision for the more discerning visitor from the
          UK and beyond. It also refers to opportunities to relate marketing to conservation.

          It has been agreed the marketing plan should cover the next five years. Market conditions are
          difficult to predict with any certainty and a longer term marketing plan would quickly date.
          However, the marketing plan should be reviewed and rolled forward every year to provide
          continuity. The marketing plan is dependent on product development and that is likely to take
          several years to come to fruition. Product development must precede specific promotions to
          avoid the situation of failing to meet visitor expectations leading to dissatisfaction and
          complaints. Hence, the overall approach provides some marketing actions to be introduced in
          2006/07 and then expanded in future years to reflect the emerging product.

          We describe the potential marketing resources required and the likely return on investment.
          However, we do not address the availability of new marketing resources (either funds or
          management structures) which is beyond the brief. There is currently no destination marketing
          organisation in place. Denbighshire County Council Tourism Unit works in a Borderlands
          context and focuses on products not specific areas. The Heritage section of the County
          Council promote their specific properties and the Countryside Unit promote specific walks,
          both with limited resources. The tourism businesses work partly within the Borderlands and
          North Wales promotions and partly through their own direct channels. There is little co-
          ordination. Resources are fragmented and limited which will inevitably affect the ability of the
          Dee Valley to compete effectively with other destinations in the UK. The issue of the structure
          and resources required to deliver the marketing plan is a top priority for the Business Action
          Group to address.

          In this section we cover:

          *          current markets

          *          product performance

          *          overview of existing promotion

          *          UK market trends and forecasts

          *          defining the visitor economy

          *          strategic marketing objectives

          *          establishing the brand

          *          target markets and product development

          *          marketing action plan

          *          resources and return on investment.




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302       Current Markets

          The market appraisal work has identified the current markets for the Dee Valley as:

          *          large numbers of day trips from the West Midlands and North West drawn by
                     Llangollen, its visitor attractions and the general scenery. These are primarily families

          *          transit traffic along the A5 making short stops for tea and toilet breaks with some
                     breaking their journey overnight

          *          around 7,000 boats per year coming to Llangollen on the canal : this is seasonal and
                     mainly groups of couples and families

          *          a small amount of business tourism and small meetings in local hotels

          *          short breaks in hotels, B&B and on caravan sites often as part of a touring holiday
                     and coming for walking, countryside and scenery. These are primarily older couples.

          *          a limited number of activity holidays

          *          the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod held in the Llangollen Royal
                     Pavilion which attracts 40,000-45,000 visits in the course of one week each July.
                     These are mainly day visitors yet the staying visitors fill all accommodation for miles
                     around

          *          a small percentage of people who own caravans on sites in the area and visit
                     throughout the year with family and friends.


303       Product Performance

          The volume and value impact of visitors to Llangollen and the Dee Valley in 2003 was
          estimated to be:

          *          980,000 visitors with:

                     -         815,000 on a day trip
                     -         73,000 staying in serviced accommodation
                     -         60,000 staying in non-serviced accommodation, and
                     -         32,000 staying with friends and relatives

          *          total annual visitor spend £42 million

          *          total visitor economy employment 900 people

          The overall product performance varies by sector, time and by area. There are significant
          peaks and troughs.

          The peaks are at summer weekends and bank holidays with fine weather putting visitor
          pressure on Llangollen, the Horseshoe Pass and Trevor Basin. Additional peaks are created
          by the International Musical Eisteddfod that brings around 10,000 people to Llangollen per day
          for a few days each July. The Thomas the Tank Engine events at Llangollen Railway can
          attract 3,000 to 4,000 visitors in a single day. The area around the Ponderosa café on the
          Horseshoe Pass can attract 7,000 visitors on a peak day. These peaks create severe
          congestion due to the road pattern that converges on Llangollen Bridge and the car parking
          provision for visitors in the town. Some events are currently at capacity.

          In contrast, there is considerable spare capacity between October and March although most
          attractions are currently closed during this period. There is also capacity within the wider Dee
          Valley, especially in Corwen, which is keen to attract more visitors.

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          The specific tourism sectors have the following broad trends:

          *          visitor numbers are falling at Llangollen TIC although this is a national trend as more
                     visitors refer to web sites for information

          *          visits to attractions are stable and are shown on the table below. Most are small and
                     seasonal

                      Attraction                                         2001     2002           2003
                      Llangollen Railway                                                        72,223
                      Horse Drawn Boats                                                       47,000 est
                      Plas Newydd                                        11,266   9,865          9,604
                      Valle Crucis Abbey                                 6,819    6,775          6,787
                      Motor Museum                                       4,298    4,174          5,309
                      Rhug Chapel                                        2,025    3,201          3,250

          *          the hotel sector is very fragile. Occupancy levels are below the regional average. The
                     hotel stock is diminishing in Llangollen and there is growing competition beyond the
                     Dee Valley (e.g. from Wrexham and Lion Quays on the A5). Margins are tight leading
                     to limited investment and some disposal and acquisitions

          *          there is a lack of business and conference trade which normally underpins the hotel
                     sector. The conference facilities offered at the Pavilions in Llangollen and Corwen are
                     dated and have difficulty competing

          *          the smaller B&B businesses tend to be run as lifestyle businesses and trade is
                     relatively good. However, they are not networked in terms of joint marketing or
                     reservation systems

          *          overall 53% of the accommodation stock is quality assured. This is in line with the
                     national average but VisitBritain are seeking to increase the ratio to 80% across the
                     UK by 2010. More significantly in the short term this means 59 out of 124
                     accommodation establishments are not currently eligible for destination promotions

          *          the activity holiday sector is operating on very tight margins as small lifestyle
                     businesses. They tend to operate independently competing against each other for
                     trade and do not have strong links with the accommodation sector to create ready-
                     made packages

          *          the retail and catering sector is part of the overall visitor experience. A significant
                     number of businesses especially in Llangollen are likely to be dependent on tourist
                     and passing trade. Hence, the overall performance of the accommodation and
                     attractions has a knock-on affect. Competition appears to be strong and there is
                     evidence of price discounts.


304       Overview Of Existing Promotions

          There is no destination management organisation in place for the Dee Valley. Hence
          promotion is fragmented. Denbighshire County Council marketing is either by themes within
          the Borderlands, by heritage site or by countryside activity. There are no ‘area’ promotions.

          A new Llangollen marketing post has recently been created. This is joint funded by the County
          Council (through the Business Action Group and Royal Pavilion), Town Council and local
          businesses. This post has no remit for the wider Dee Valley.



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          The Dee Valley has not been used as a destination brand to date. Llangollen is positioned as
          ‘Where Wales welcomes the World!’ although this is more of a strap-line for a leaflet than a
          brand used by the destination. This is clearly relevant to the Llangollen International Musical
          Eisteddfod. However, the acknowledged need for customer care training and language skills
          could question the relevance of this as a year round brand.

          The former Llangollen Tourist Association was the main promotional body. This received a
          significant boost in funding in 2002 to tackle foot and mouth issues which led to a series of
          new leaflets and a new web site. The lack of funding since then, coupled with winding-up the
          Association, leaves a legacy of dated leaflets in various design styles and dated web
          information.

          There is a profusion of web sites. The Courier newspaper group has created sites for both the
          Dee Valley and Llangollen. However, these are multi-purpose sites with local news and
          community information. Neither sells the destination and neither is linked to booking systems.
          These types of site play an important role but ideally should be linked to a visitor destination
          site.

          The County Council Countryside Unit has recently produced a series of walk leaflets : Walk
          the Dee Valley Way, Llangollen History Trail and Corwen Three Circular Walks. Print runs and
          distribution are fairly limited. The Tourism Unit have produced an interpretive leaflet called
          Exploring Corwen and are publishing one on Llangollen again with limited print runs (10,000
          copies each). The Heritage team promote their own properties such as Plas Newydd. Yet
          there is no overall tourism marketing strategy which co-ordinates this work and puts it into a
          wider context.

          Most of the County Council tourism marketing resources go into the Borderland campaign that
          feed into the North Wales activity (by North Wales Tourism) that, in turn, link to Wales Tourist
          Board and VisitBritain activity. However, the Borderlands consortium is weakening with
          Wrexham doing more of their own promotions. Within Denbighshire the Vale of Clwyd is also
          starting to develop a separate profile.

          The Borderlands and North Wales campaigns provide a ready-made route to mass markets
          although some 50% of the local accommodation is ineligible to participate.

          Some hotels do direct national press advertising including the Lloyd Hotel Group (which
          embraces the Bryn Howell and the Chainbridge Hotels) and regularly advertise in the Daily
          Telegraph.

          Most attractions have their own leaflet although there is no single ‘places to visit’ publication.
          The same applies to activity holiday operators.

          Overall, this sadly creates a situation where the marketing is mainly leaflet driven with a host
          of dated titles and no consistent themes or messages. This sits alongside a number of
          unconnected web sites.

          Last, but not least, most promotions work within the administrative area of the lead
          organisation. Hence places like Trefor Basin are promoted by Wrexham County Borough
          Council and the Ceirog Valley by Shropshire Tourism. There is a need to take a more holistic
          and customer led approach to incorporate surrounding areas which have synergy with the Dee
          Valley. The Borderlands partly overcomes the problem yet the name implies it covers the
          Welsh and English sides of the border.

          This suggests:

          *          the destination marketing is fragmented, under resourced and not managed

          *          more seriously, businesses are competing against each other for their share of a
                     declining market and selling on price. They are not working together to collectively
                     grow the market and compete through added value.


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305       UK Market Trends And Forecasts

          The Dee Valley is in a competitive market for visitors. The main market is England. Significant
          new resources are now being channelled by the Regional Development Agencies in parts of
          England to promote their own destination brands. So, it is important to understand the overall
          market trends and lifestyle trends in which the Dee Valley competes for visitors.

          Visitor markets have been changing rapidly and will continue to do so:

          *          short breaks : these are growing due to the greater frequency of weekend breaks by
                     couples and more longer/midweek breaks from older age groups (including coach
                     travel and camping/caravanning).        They are mainly hotel based, countryside
                     (especially National Parks) and cities are popular but there is strong competition from
                     European cities and budget airline deals

          *          staying with friends and relatives : this is growing due to increased mobility, student
                     population, functions and reunions. It stimulates the food and drink sector, visits to
                     attractions, events, entertainment and recreation

          *          overseas : there has been an overall recovery since 9/11 with further and record
                     growth anticipated. It is influenced by exchange rates and perceptions of London
                     prices as London is the primary UK gateway. Europe and USA are key markets with
                     Eastern Europe and China emerging. The London 2012 Olympics will be raising the
                     profile significantly over the next 5+ years

          *          day visits : there is major growth in health related/outdoor activity (walking, mountain
                     biking, fitness clubs, etc). Traditional visitor attractions are facing ‘new’ competition
                     (e.g. factory shopping outlets, Sunday sports, etc) plus the competition from new
                     Heritage Lottery funded attractions. Educational visits and corporate hospitality are
                     often now key markets for many attractions

          *          business tourism : this is growing with high spend per head. It is influenced by the
                     economy yet a significant part is business travel which is difficult to influence. Other
                     sectors include meetings, conferences, exhibitions and outdoor events which are
                     growing in volume and value with more smaller, more frequent meetings booked at
                     shorter notice.

          The wider lifestyle trends and forecasts indicate:

          *          discretionary income will increase and people will have more money to spend on
                     leisure. Income will increase faster than leisure time (which may decrease) so people
                     will be increasingly demanding when it comes to deciding how to spend it. Value for
                     time will be as important as value for money

          *          people will be better educated and want a broader range of experiences

          *          people will be increasingly concerned about leading a healthy lifestyle and there will
                     be increasing demand for activities and sports

          *          the impact of global warning : a mild or sunny weekend in winter can lead to a
                     significant number of people visiting the countryside. Yet, equally, a damp and dull
                     spell in August can depress peak season trips

          *          the countryside is extremely popular for a range of markets yet there are issues about
                     honey-pots, visitor pressure and social inclusion (it appeals predominantly to white,
                     middle classes)

          *          ‘out of the ordinary’ experiences will continue to grow in popularity. Examples include
                     civil ceremonies and business events in sporting venues, corporate days, functions
                     and conferences with a tour, visit or talk

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          *          the ABC1 socio-economic group will represent an increasing share of the population.
                     There will be more households without children and more single person households

          *          country living continues to grow in popularity pushing up house prices and creating
                     issues about affordable housing and second homes. This, potentially, stifles the
                     supply of rural self-catering property

          *          the Licensing Act will change the nature of the evening economy in some market
                     towns and cities leading to a more mature and welcoming ambience but with the
                     threat of more binge drinking, crime and disorder

          *          it will be easier to get abroad and to other parts of the UK by air so UK residents will
                     find it easier to go further afield and overseas residents will find it easier to get here

          *          congestion will increase as will the desire to escape it : there will be an increasing
                     premium placed on space, time to reflect, relax, and recharge batteries

          *          the web will become increasingly important for accessing information and for making
                     bookings

          *          the web will also have other impacts on tourism : it will make it easier, for example, for
                     people to trace their ancestors and will, therefore, stimulate genealogical tourism

          *          there will be increasing demand for the reliable and consistent standards offered by
                     branded products

          *          there will also be increasing demand for the individuality of high quality independent
                     products : indulgence is a key motivator

          *          the unexpected can be expected : there will continue to be regular crises that will
                     impact on tourism


306       Defining The Visitor Economy

          The term ‘tourism’ is losing popularity in favour of the ‘visitor economy’. Tourism tends to
          equate to long holidays, overseas travel, hotels, attractions and tour operators. The majority
          of visitors to the Dee Valley are day visitors, some are business visitors and some are visitors
          to friends and relatives. As for the rest, an increasing number are on short breaks and a
          decreasing number are on longer holidays.

          The visitor economy includes public and private sector providers and support from the public
          sector. It is an inclusive term that has resonance with public sector decision makers and local
          communities. The visitor economy includes:

          *          accommodation (hotels, B & B’s, camping, self-catering, etc)

          *          conference and event facilities (exhibition halls, arenas, meeting rooms, functions
                     space, etc)

          *          activity holiday operators

          *          marine and waterways (marinas, moorings, chandlery, etc)

          *          entertainment (theatres, cinema, clubs, performance venues, etc)

          *          food and drink (pubs, restaurants, bars, cafes, local produce, farmers’ markets etc)

          *          retail (flagship stores, specialty retail, arts & crafts, markets etc)


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          *          attractions (museums, heritage attractions, family attractions, gardens, galleries etc)

          *          sports (both to participate and spectate)

          *          events and festivals

          *          environment (town centres, countryside, footpaths, cycle paths, safety and security,
                     public toilets)

          *          special places (riversides, promenades, viewpoints, etc)

          *          transport (buses, rail, airport links, taxis, car parks etc)

          *          tourist guides and countryside rangers

          *          tourism officers and Tourist Information Centres

          *          town centre management initiatives

          *          tourism development, planning and licensing

          *          business support and training.

          So we refer to the visitor economy from this point on as it is more relevant than tourism to
          the Dee Valley.


307       Strategic Marketing Objectives

          The strategic marketing vision is to:


                              Establish the Dee Valley as a sustainable quality destination
                                           in the hearts and minds of visitors


          The key under-pinning themes are quality and sustainability.

          The strategic marketing objectives are to:

          *          increase the value of visitors to the Dee Valley visitor economy

          *          extend the length of the visitor season

          *          disperse more visitors from Llangollen to other parts of the Dee Valley

          *          support the regeneration of Corwen

          *          support existing businesses within the visitor economy

          *          continually meet and exceed visitor expectations through quality assurance

          *          attract new investment and employment in the visitor economy

          *          respect the wider needs and wishes of the local and business communities.

          The strategic marketing objectives demonstrate the inclusive role of marketing and the visitor
          economy. Marketing is concerned with anticipating and satisfying visitor demand. This
          requires a holistic approach to the visitor economy.

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308       Establishing The Brand

          A destination brand is the total response of a visitor - past, present or future – to the symbol
          or name that states who you are, what you offer and what differentiates you from other
          destinations. The logo or strap-line is simply the visual expression of the brand.

          Brand values lie at the heart of branding. These can be ‘emotional values’ or ‘rational values’.
          Branding is about perceptions and emotional values are very important : how will I feel there,
          what will my friends think and what will I experience? Rational values are more functional : the
          locality, the cost and the types of attractions.

          Brands ultimately exist in the minds of visitors and they are very expensive to create from
          scratch. They are the living memories of the visit. So, brands need to be simple, credible,
          deliverable, unique and well known. The product must meet the expectation or the brand will
          fail.

          We recommend the destination brand should be:


                                      The Dee Valley … the Best of the Welsh Borders


          There is rationale to the brand. The Dee Valley is the geographic area. The promise of the
          ‘best’ equates with quality. The inclusion of the Welsh Borders pins this to Wales and avoids
          confusion with the Dee Valley in Scotland.

          So this is an umbrella that provides flexibility for specific destinations and activities. For
          instance

          *          Llangollen and The Dee Valley … the Best of the Welsh Borders

          *          Corwen and The Dee Valley … the Best of the Welsh Borders

          *          The Dee Valley – Welsh Country Walking at its Best.

          It works in various orders providing all three elements are included : The Dee Valley, Best and
          Welsh Borders.

          The brand values need to be identified by the target markets. This requires qualitative
          research with focus groups and can be expensive. Alternatively, this can be done initially by a
          group of representative stakeholders from the Dee Valley.

          The brand can then be brought to life once the brand values are agreed. These values form
          the basis of a design brief and a designer with branding experience should then create the
          visualisation in terms of a logo, image library and ready-made inspirational editorial. This
          probably calls for new photography to match the brand values.

          Finally the brand needs to be managed and communicated to the visitor economy in the
          Dee Valley. Local businesses are effectively the ‘sales force’ using the brand in their
          promotions. A brand manual is required (preferably online) to ensure the material is used
          correctly. License agreements should be drawn up to manage the merchandising
          opportunities. We provide a Case Study in Volume II : Appendix D.

          The brand itself should be manifested:

          *          on the boundary signs of the area

          *          in all destination promotions, PR and web sites

          *          in interpretive media


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          *          on stickers and plaques used by local businesses

          *          at Tourist Information Centres

          *          on staff uniforms

          *          in corporate applications

          *          by guide book publishers

          *          by marketing partners in their own promotions.

          Finally, brand evaluation is essential after three years to measure the take-up by
          stakeholders and the recognition by visitors.


309       Target Markets And Specific Product Development

          The Marketing Plan is based on a number of target markets. The total number of markets
          should be manageable and in line with the likely scale of resources that could be available.
          The Marketing Plan must focus on markets where public intervention is warranted.

          There are consequently four key markets we should be concentrating on:

          *          day visitors

          *          short breaks

          *          activity breaks

          *          meetings and conferences.


310       Day Visitors

          This segment includes independent day visitors, coach group outings and school trips. The
          area's accessibility and range of natural and built attractions is the strength for this market.
          The main catchment area is people living within the 90 minute catchment. This was defined in
          the market appraisal by the CACI analysis. Overall this is a very large market although not
          particularly high spending and it can cause traffic congestion and environmental problems.
          However, it is the mainstay of business for attractions, the retail and catering sector which is
          also the vital infrastructure for the staying visitor market.

          This category includes domestic and overseas holiday visitors who are staying in and around
          the area who might make a day trip into the area from their holiday base. The key destinations
          are Chester, Snowdonia and Llandudno.

          Day trips do not necessarily take place during the day. Trips for evening entertainment, events
          and concerts, visiting clubs, pubs and restaurants are also important elements of the visitor
          economy and generate significant income for local businesses. This is particularly important in
          Llangollen and Corwen. But it can create problems in town centres through the ‘binge drinking
          culture’, related crime and the threatening environment it creates for other visitors.

          Much of the market will be repeat or regular visitors and know their way around. Others,
          however, will be new to the area and need more assistance. The day visitor market needs to
          be effectively managed.




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311       Specific Product Development

          The overriding aim and reason for intervention in this market is to increase and disperse a
          greater number of visitors from Llangollen to other parts of the Dee Valley especially Corwen.
          Llangollen is, and will realistically remain, as the hub. Spokes need to be developed. There
          are several parts to this ‘hub and spokes’ idea:

          *          The Dee Valley Hopper Bus

                     This would be a minibus service operating at weekends and bank holidays in the main
                     season for visitors (and potentially weekdays in the school holidays) who would simply
                     hop on and off at key sites on the route. It should reflect the Dee Valley brand and
                     have on-board interpretation (eg. head sets or guided commentary).

                     It could run on a figure of eight circuit using Llangollen Bridge as the focal point
                     (although if it started in Corwen it would have the benefit of free parking). From
                     Llangollen it could go westwards to Valle Crucis Abbey, the Horseshoe Pass and on
                     to Corwen returning via Carrog, Glyndyfrdwy and Berwyn stations, then running
                     eastwards out to Trevor Basin, Chirk Castle and back to Llangollen. It should service
                     the starting and finishing points of existing and planned circular walking routes. It
                     could also provide a park and ride service to relieve traffic congestion in Llangollen if
                     car parks could be developed at gateway sites to the Dee Valley. Equally, it could
                     connect with Ruabon or Chirk stations to encourage more rail traffic.

                     A feasibility study is warranted to evaluate all the options. It would probably carry a
                     revenue cost. The study needs to learn from other examples found at the Stretton
                     Hills and Cannock Chase whilst considering how it links to the Clywdian Ranger
                     service

          *          Llangollen Railway

                     The railway is essentially a ‘there and back’ to Carrog service for most visitors.
                     Virtually everyone travels to Carrog and some stay and explore the village. More
                     could be done to encourage visitor dispersal at Carrog and intermediate halts
                     irrespective of the proposed extension to Corwen:

                     -         map panels and leaflets at Llangollen Station identifying things to do and see
                               at each of the stations

                     -         similarly orientation maps and signage at each of the halts

                     -         interpretive media to tell more about the scenery, wildlife, heritage and
                               railway/stock

                     -         signposted walks between the halts

                     -         promotion of the Llangollen History Trail using Berwyn Station and Llangollen
                               Station

                     -         circular walks to the north of the river and A5 from Carrog Station and
                               Glyndyfrdwy Station with the length of the walk (and timing) loosely matched
                               to the frequency of rail services

          *    Corwen

                     The extension of the railway to Corwen creates a new means of visitor access to the
                     town although it will probably take 5+ years to complete. It is subject to planning
                     consent and funding. Corwen could then be used as a starting point or gateway for
                     visitors from the west entering the Dee Valley and using the railway. Corwen is also a
                     destination at the end of the line from Llangollen. However, visitors need a reason to


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                     stay awhile in Corwen otherwise they will simply catch the same train back 20 minutes
                     later. This has implications on:

                     -         the potential opportunity for a visitor centre, attraction or even railway
                               museum at Corwen

                     -         new events at Corwen, especially in the Pavilion, which is close to the
                               proposed terminus

                     -         the retail and catering offer to visitors within walking distance of the station

                     -         the opportunities for shuttle services (perhaps pony and trap rides) linking to
                               smaller attractions such as Rhug Chapel and Llangar Church

                     -         new signposted walks from Corwen to Carrog station.

                     This needs to be considered in the context of an impact study for Corwen. The
                     marketing opportunity is 5+ years away but product development should run in
                     parallel with the railway engineering work assuming the extension goes ahead

          *    Gateways

                     The development of gateways on the approach roads into the Dee Valley whilst acting
                     as a potential park and ride facility into Llangollen also creates the opportunity to
                     make people more aware of many of the other attractions and activities in the Dee
                     Valley.

                     This calls for a review of white on brown signage to ensure the network is
                     underpinned by a Visitor Management Plan that improves the current provision and
                     encourages dispersal.


312       Group Visit Market

          The group outings and school trips is similar to the independent day trip market although
          coaches can be easier to manage than car borne visitors. The group market is also easier to
          reach. This market has declined over the years but could be re-activated. The main catchment
          area is people living within a two hour drive time. Llangollen is already a popular day coach
          excursion from Chester, Llandudno and Snowdonia.


313       Specific Product Development

          There are some specific product requirements for this market:

          *          secure and signposted coach parks with facilities and convenient drop-off and pick-up
                     points

          *          the right combination of attractions to make up a day visit : this often involves a scenic
                     tour with a paid attraction. Coach operators need names they can sell

          *          suitable meal and refreshments stops

          *          schools are looking for museums, heritage and countryside sites that can provide an
                     educational experience linked to the National Curriculum.




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314       Short Breaks

          This is a very large market, with good growth potential, higher than average spend and a good
          seasonal spread. There is a real opportunity to develop the autumn, Christmas/New Year and
          spring breaks trade. The area has real strengths in terms of its accessibility, attractive scenery
          and the range of things to do and see.

          The target market is the population within a 2-3 hour drive time covering the North West, West
          Yorkshire, West Midlands and Mid Wales.

          The main segments are:

          *          over 55s, holidaying without children, as couples and friends. This group is growing
                     in size, has more freedom about when to travel and is reasonably affluent and active -
                     ABC1s form the bulk of it

          *          pre-family adults travelling as couples or groups of friends

          *          families with children and extended family groups : this market is more seasonal
                     with a strong demand in half terms and school holidays.

          Additional holiday and short breaks often take place at short notice and out of peak season.

          Requirements will vary according to lifecycle and age group. Families are driven by children's
          needs and may be more cost conscious. Older adults are looking for quieter although still
          active enjoyment and are more moved by scenery and picturesque villages. Younger adults
          may be looking for more adventure and excitement.


315       Specific Product Development

          The over-riding need is to create a product to ensure The Dee Valley can compete in a core
          market.

          A new food and drink initiative incorporating short breaks and country walking is proposed.
          The campaign name could be called ‘Welsh Country Walking Breaks in the Dee Valley’. It
          aims to connect with people who have interests in country walking, healthy exercise, wildlife,
          heritage, fine food and wine from the three segments above (314). This specifically needs to
          move the product from where it is now to where it needs to be in two years time to create
          visitor satisfaction. The components of the initiative are:

          *          more circular walks based on country walking matched to the fitness and interests of
                     the segments linked to the railway stations and village pubs

          *          more quality assured properties who are eligible to participate : ideally with green
                     accreditation

          *          central reservation system covering all types of accommodation but especially B&Bs

          *          drying rooms and facilities at accommodation for wet gear

          *          dog friendly accommodation

          *          maps available at accommodation either to borrow, purchase or print off web sites

          *          onward luggage transfer for those walking through the Dee Valley

          *          training to ensure accommodation staff can advise on walks, the weather, car parking,
                     etc


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          *          ‘Walks from the Front Door’ purpose designed for each accommodation establishment
                     to reduce car journeys

          *          expanded programmes of guided walks based on various green themes

          *          integration of the hub and spokes initiatives into the concept : The Dee Valley Hopper,
                     the Railway proposals

          *          raising the quality of pubs and restaurants in terms of décor, local food and service

          *          creating more ‘Welshness’ within the overall dining experience

          *          using more locally sourced food and drink, local recipes, etc

          *          creating and promoting farmers markets

          *          extending the opening season for visitor attractions

          *          encourage more specialist retailers to establish : walkers often buy new gear when
                     away on a break.

          The ‘pampering’ element also needs to be included in the package. The quality of
          accommodation, opportunity to chill out and relax, use luxury toiletries, have plenty of hot
          water for baths, use spa and sauna facilities, appreciate good food, visit friendly local bars
          with roaring log fires, etc are a key part of the overall experience.

          The initiative should not necessarily be limited to The Dee Valley. It could also include the
          Ceirog Valley which is nearby with a suitable product. It adds to the critical mass and includes
          Chirk Castle. This could also prove to be a strong hook to catch the National Trust market.


316       Activity Breaks

          These are holidays and breaks where an activity forms the prime motivation and main purpose
          of the trip. This is a relatively small market but there is growing interest in active holidays of all
          types from painting to parascending and the area has the potential to grow this market. The
          bulk of the market is for DIY activities where people book their own accommodation and
          arrange their activity programme. The main markets are younger couples and single-sex
          groups.

          Activities the area can cater for include:

          *          family cycling

          *          adventure sports : climbing, mountain biking, rafting, canoeing

          *          fishing, shooting, riding

          *          Welsh language and culture

          *          eco-tourism

          *          crafts and heritage

          Most activity and special interest holidays are self-organised and share many of the needs of
          ordinary holidaymakers. Others are buying packaged products.




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          The Dee Valley is best positioned to cater for beginners requiring tuition and people looking
          for multi-activities within one break where people can mix and match. It does not have the
          rugged and extreme terrain sought by the real enthusiasts.


317       Specific Product Development

          The over-riding need is to network the existing activity holiday operators to ensure they are
          working together to grow the market and not competing between themselves for market share.
          The opportunity for collaboration gives visitors more flexibility and choice. Bespoke itineraries
          could be developed involving more than one operator. There is also a need to link the product
          to local accommodation to develop the higher value overnight / short break and field-course
          market.

          Specific requirements include:

          *          quiet lanes network for cycling

          *          cycle routes from the proposed gateway and park and ride facilities

          *          promote carrying cycles on the Llangollen Railway

          *          attractive leaflet promoting natural history and wildlife

          *          designate official mountain bike routes

          *          develop washing and changing facilities for mountain bikers

          *          quality assurance accreditation for activity operators.

          This could be developed under the banner of ‘The Dee Valley – Get Out There!’


318       Meetings and Conferences

          The meetings and conference market is relatively small in size but can be valuable and
          generate important midweek and out-of-season business for hotels and other venues.
          Accessibility, value for money and the chance to meet in a pleasant and relaxed setting are
          the key selling points for the area. The main market will be for training, small management
          meetings, team building, sales meetings, etc geared to local corporate and public sector
          organisations. There may be an opportunity to attract some large meetings to bigger venues
          such as the Royal International Pavilion although it requires investment. The potential link with
          activity operators to provide corporate training is an important component.


319       Specific Product Development

          The over-riding need relates to improvements to the Royal International Pavilion at Llangollen
          and, potentially, Corwen Pavilion to create modern, larger venues and a distinctive conference
          product. These venues would be capable of handling larger events although they need to be
          linked with quality assured hotels to provide 24 hour residential packages.

          A conference desk is desirable to pull all of the marketing and booking activity together. This
          would help to provide easily accessed information about all the facilities that are locally
          available and provide business support to ensure hotels have an understanding of the needs
          of the business visitor and conference organisers.

          There may be opportunities to develop the conference trade at unusual venues, historic
          houses, visitor attractions, etc. Venues that can offer access to outdoor recreation facilities for
          team building have a key role to play in market development.


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          There is merit in addressing this market with a wider spread of partners perhaps in a
          Borderlands context or in partnership with Wrexham and/or Shropshire. There are economies
          of scale from joint marketing and this would create a greater share of voice in a competitive
          market.


320       Conclusion

          In this section we have highlighted the current shortcomings from a marketing point of view,
          considered market and lifestyle trends and forecasts and proposed that we should, from now
          on, be considering the visitor economy rather than tourism. We have established a series of
          strategic marketing objectives, proposed as a brand The Dee Valley… the Best of the Welsh
          Borders and considered the potential for four key markets:

          *          day visitors (including group visits)

          *          short breaks

          *          activity breaks

          *          meetings and conferences.

          Finally, we have identified a number of product development opportunities which we will
          discuss further below. We now turn to the Marketing Action Plan.




                            New mooring basin                            Carrog Railway Station
                               Llangollen




                                 Rhug Chapel                                Llantysilio Church




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4.        DEVELOPING THE MARKETING ACTION PLAN

401       Introduction

          The Marketing Action Plan covers the next five years from April 2006. It is broken down into
          two parts:

          *          creating the brand and putting it on the visitor map : short term

          *          product campaigns : medium to long term.


402       Short Term Action

          The first step is to establish the brand by identifying the core values and bringing the
          brand to life with a brand manual and through brand management. Ideally this should be
          done and launched to stakeholders by mid 2006 to enable the brand to be rolled out in
          campaigns in the rest of 2006 for 2007 promotions.

          The next step is to build brand awareness across the market place. This needs to cover a
          range of market segments. The aim is to rationalise the existing marketing activity by
          consolidating the range of print and web site information to give a focus with a clear and
          consistent message to visitors. Hence, it is not segmented by product or market at this early
          stage.

          The recommendation is to develop and launch a ‘Discover the Hidden Dee Valley : the Best
          of the Welsh Borders’ campaign for 2006 and 2007. The ‘hidden’ element aims to make
          more of the off-the-beaten-track places and creates an impression that there are lots of things
          to discover. Hidden has a positive connotation in the eyes of visitors looking to discover
          something new and special to them. There is a national Hidden Britain campaign being
          developed across the UK and this initiative could be become of part of something bigger.

          The components of this would be:

          *          an A3 folded down to A5 size full colour leaflet setting out the attractions, events
                     and activities across the Dee Valley. This should focus on the scenery, country
                     walking, wildlife, attractions, events, towns and villages as they currently are.
                     Llangollen TIC and web site (see below) should be the contact points for more
                     information. Llangollen should occupy no more than a third of the space to ensure the
                     ‘hidden’ concept is relevant. A discovery map is an important element.

                     It requires detailed information such as opening times and prices to allow visitors to
                     plan their day out. This should aim to replace much of the current out-dated literature.
                     This should be distributed free of charge through commercial brochure distributors
                     over the 90 minute catchment. It should ensure it is available at other attractions,
                     cafes and restaurants, railway stations, petrol stations, libraries, public buildings and
                     offices, etc. It should have targeted distribution to Tourist Information Centres. In
                     addition, it should be distributed to hotels and accommodation in Chester, Snowdonia
                     and Llandudno. The print run would need to be 50,000+ per year

          *          there should be an insert for coach operators and group organisers identifying
                     themes and itineraries within the Dee Valley. This should feature group rates. It
                     should be accompanied by a sales letter and mailed to coach and group organisers
                     within the 90 minute catchment. This has database implications. A help or enquiry line
                     should be publicised to give more detailed advice. The most appropriate contact
                     would currently be Llangollen TIC. The print run is likely to be in the order of 1,000

          *          the same approach should be taken with schools containing information relevant to
                     the National Curriculum and school trip organisers. This should be mailed through the



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                     education authorities of Denbighshire and surrounding councils, targeting named
                     teachers where possible. Again, a print run of 1,000 is probably enough

          *          finally a ‘Where to Stay’ list of quality assured properties should be included as an
                     insert. This could also include a ‘Where to Eat’ section. It would be used to service
                     the enquiries further afield currently handled by the TIC

          *          all of this information should be incorporated into a new ‘VisitTheDeeValley’ web
                     site. This needs to be inspirational and sell the destination. It requires sections that
                     specifically cover outdoor activities, countryside, attractions, events and shopping. In
                     addition it needs to have separate menus for Where to Stay, Where to Eat, Group
                     Organisers information and School Trip information. The Llangollen TIC should be the
                     main contact point for more information. All of the participating businesses would have
                     links to their own sites. The medium term aim would be to have a central reservation
                     system for bed bookings

          *          it would be useful to undertake some pilot online marketing through Google
                     adwords. This enables a short advert (that links to the destination web site) to appear
                     when someone searches for a specific key word (such as short break, walking
                     holiday, etc). You pay on a cost-per-click basis starting at 4p per click. This needs to
                     be done within a specified budget. Google can advise on likely hit rates and costs for
                     the search words you specify

          *          this should all be promoted through the Borderlands campaign taking a full page
                     and web entry in their promotions. The cost is £1,000. This is a ready-made route to a
                     large market. The leaflet and web site provide a fulfillment mechanism. The actual
                     fulfillment would need to be done as things currently stand through Llangollen TIC or
                     Denbighshire County Council Tourism

          *          the final part of the campaign is PR to build awareness in the media. This calls for a
                     targeted approach with travel publications, national media and special interests. The
                     services of a PR agency could be warranted to ensure there is targeted approach.
                     This should be part of a medium to long term campaign to build awareness.

          The total cost of this package of activity is likely to be around £50,000 with an
          estimated £30,000 in core funding and £20,000 in business support and sponsorship.
          This excludes staff costs and time.


403       Medium to Long Term Action

          This action needs to follow the product development and is probably two to three years away
          at present. However, the campaign planning needs to run in parallel with the product
          development.

          It is difficult to be precise about this stage of marketing since market conditions and market
          opportunities will change over the next two years.

          This stage is essentially an evolution of the short term action.

          Specifically the ‘Discover the Hidden Dee Valley’ content should be realigned to reflect the
          new features eg. the Hopper bus service, the railway as a link along the valley, the park and
          ride, and the gateway features. It should give greater promotion to Corwen as the rail
          extension proceeds and the visitor offer of Corwen improves.

          The key addition is the food and drink/country walking initiative as it is developed and
          launched. This could be branded as ‘Welsh Country Walking in the Dee Valley’. The
          principles behind the campaign reflect the Discover the Hidden Dee Valley campaign. It
          should, therefore, have:



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          *          an A4 full colour brochure (8 to 12 pages) containing the new product offer
                     including accommodation details with a central reservation number

          *          this would be distributed free of charge through TICs

          *          in addition there would be a pro-active direct mail campaign of a flyer to households
                     known to be interested in short breaks and country walking, through database rental
                     specialists

          *          there would also be targeted inclusion of the flyer or advertising in places such as
                     the monthly Country Walking magazine and the National Trust member’s quarterly
                     magazine.

          *          the web site should have a central reservation system

          *          hopefully, more accommodation places participating as the number of quality
                     assured properties increase.

          The services of an advertising agency or media buyer are required nearer the time to advise
          on the best methods. The print run for the brochure is probably 30,000+ and the flyer is
          around 200,000+. The Google adword campaign could then be adapted to reflect the new
          product.

          The joint work and advertising with the Borderlands, North Wales Tourism and Wales Tourist
          Board should then be adjusted to reflect the new product.

          The PR activity should be stepped and focused on the special interest media. This gives a
          special edge to attract travel media interest.

          Meanwhile, marketing activity is required to support the Activity Breaks market. The activity
          operators themselves should drive this forward working in collaboration with core funding
          support. This is likely to be mainly online bearing in mind the market profile using new media
          opportunities. Part of the overall PR campaign could address this market.

          Conference marketing activity is also warranted although it is largely dependent on the timing
          of the potential refurbishment of the two Pavilions. This requires a specialist marketing
          approach using PR to raise awareness and customer relationship marketing to develop
          channels of communication with conference buyers and agencies. This should be planned in
          conjunction with the two operators of the Pavilions. In addition, it could be approached within a
          wider partnership involving Wrexham and /or Shropshire.

          The total cost of this package of activity is in the order of £100,000 per year with an
          estimated £60,000 core funding and £40,000 from business partners and sponsorship.
          This excludes staff costs and time.


404       Conclusion

          In this section we have described the proposed Tourism Marketing Plan, the potential financial
          implications and the potential benefits. What is clear is that the Business Action Group, in
          association with Denbighshire County Council, WDA and WTB (or their successor bodies),
          need to be realistic in assessing potential funding sources and packaging the project in such a
          way that potential funding applications have the best possible chance of success.

          We now move on to look at the wider product development.




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5.        WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IN TERMS OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT?

501       Introduction

          In this section we consider the need for product development to enhance the overall visitor
          experience with particular emphasis on the four key markets identified in 309:

          *          day visitors

          *          short breaks

          *          activity breaks

          *          meetings and conferences.

          We have developed this in the context of six aspects:

          *          visitor information and orientation (what we call visitor communication)

          *          the enhancement of the attractions and interpretation

          *          maximising the potential of Llangollen

          *          maximising the potential of Corwen

          *          the wider infrastructure including activity tourism

          *          maximising the cultural diversity of the area.


502       Aspects Of Visitor Communication

          There are four distinctive elements to visitor communication which should be defined in this
          context:

          *          welcome and orientation – which introduces visitors to the town and area, provides
                     a plan identifying what there is to see and do and, to varying degrees, provides the
                     visitor with the wherewithal to go out and enjoy it. This can be an orientation panel or
                     something more elaborate like an interpretive shelter. Such facilities need to be
                     readily available at entrances, or ‘gateways’, to the area including on the main roads,
                     in car parks and at bus stops

          *          information – to assist the visitor get the most out of their visit. This can be in the
                     form of face to face information at the Tourist Information Centre, A5 attraction leaflet
                     or a trail leaflet available in key outlets in the town, around the area or at the Tourist
                     Information Centre

          *          referral – which is information provided to visitors at the end of a visit to a specific
                     site, town or attraction, which helps them to appreciate what else is on offer and
                     encourages them to visit other places in the vicinity. These are usually provided at
                     exit points eg. the walk to the car park or as the visitor drives out of the car park. The
                     objective is to raise awareness of other opportunities for the visitor and to influence
                     their future attitudes and behaviour which can lead to return, or repeat, visits

          *          interpretation – the media by which the themes and stories about the Dee Valley are
                     communicated to the visitor. Finding the most appropriate place for interpretation is a
                     key issue in helping the visitor appreciate why the area is so special. It should be the
                     ‘natural point’ which we call the genius loci. The choice of site is particularly
                     important and should be on the route along which visitors naturally walk or travel.


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          We need each of these elements to help visitors feel they have arrived in, and are enjoying,
          somewhere special.


503       Welcome And Orientation : The Role Of Gateways

          A recent study has defined ‘gateways’ to protected landscapes as ‘the point of engagement
          with visitors and local people as they set out to explore the protected area’. Gateways
          take different forms and are an integral part of the overall visitor experience which
          encompasses every step along the way of a visit.

          In the context of the Dee Valley ‘gateways’ should include:

          *          boundary signage

          *          orientation panels/units in laybys and car parks

          *          Tourist Information Centre

          *          Llangollen Museum (and a potential community heritage centre in Corwen)

          *          dispersed gateways at attractions, viewpoints and beauty spots which can provide
                     orientation and referral to the wider Dee Valley

          *          village information points.

          Within this framework the area enjoys several key existing gateways (places of visitor
          concentration) which are not being exploited in any way:

          *          Trevor Basin and Pontcysyllte Aqueduct with an estimated 350,000 visitors

          *          Llangollen with the TIC (75,000 annual visitors), Railway (a key attraction and
                     potential link to Corwen with around 80,000 annual visitors) and the Royal Pavilion
                     with 45,000 annual visits to the International Musical Eisteddfod plus a range of
                     events throughout the year which attract a further 60,000 visitors

          *          Rhug Estate Organic Farm Shop estimated to attract around 250,000 users at the
                     western end of the valley

          *          Horseshoe Pass and the Ponderosa cafe estimated to attract around 250,000 (and
                     potentially many more) to enjoy the view.

          However, at present:

          *          none provide a wider Dee Valley context

          *          all suffer from poor white on brown signage

          *          there is no orientation, or referral, to the rest of the valley

          *          there is no joined up thinking, joint ticketing or joint marketing

          *          no high quality copyright free map which all involved in the Dee Valley visitor economy
                     could use.




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504       Boundary Signage

          It is usual to introduce distinctive boundary signage which advises the visitor they are entering
          somewhere special. Different organisations use different techniques:

          *          Forestry Commission Wales use large gateway signs at
                     the boundaries to key sites eg. Cwmcarn and Gwydyr
                     Forests




          *          National Parks use different symbols:




          *          Blaenavon Industrial Landscape World Heritage Site
                     has created a logo and corporate identity within the
                     context of a branding strategy and are erecting boundary
                     signs at key access points into the area and then using the
                     symbol on individual sites:




          At present there is no sense of arrival of entering the Dee Valley whichever way the visitor is
          coming. New sculptures have recently been erected on some of the approach roads but their
          meaning is not immediately apparent and there is no interpretation to assist visitors. There is a
          strong case in developing the Dee Valley brand (402) to devise a new logo and use this to
          create attractive boundary signs which could be introduced at key locations:



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          *          A5 west on Froncysyllte

          *          A539 west of Trevor

          *          A542 west of the Ponderosa (travelling east)

          *          A5 east of Druid intersection with A494

          *          A494(T) south of A5104 intersection.


505       Dee Valley Information Point

          Once visitors become aware they have entered a special area they need to know a little about
          it and what there is to see and do. We are proposing the creation of a Dee Valley
          Information Point which provides:

          *          a sense of welcome and orientation

          *          visitor welcome on what there is to see and do and how to get there

          *          introduces the interpretive themes and explains why the area is so special

          *          provides an opportunity to pick up promotional leaflets on the key attractions plus
                     visitor guides which could be charged for.

          There are issues of inclement weather, leaflet top-up and security. At the lowest level this
          could be a simple structure with information panels under a shelter : alternatively a bespoke
          unit similar to the example shown below which is in a park in Kempen en Maasland (Belgium).
          This timber structure includes visitor information and orientation and also the opportunity to
          purchase publications and even puncture kits. It has a power source although solar energy
          could probably ensure sufficient background heating to protect publications from deterioration.




          Units should ideally be located in:

          *          laybys along the access roads into the area including A5 (west of Corwen), A5 (west
                     of Froncysyllte), A539 (west of Trevor) and A542 (east of Ponderosa). This would
                     provide potential visitors with an opportunity to stop, appreciate what the Dee Valley
                     has to offer and decide what to do before they get caught up in the traffic in the two
                     towns

          *          at the key gateways into the valley identified in 503 above




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          *          key car parks in Llangollen and Corwen. Once visitors have made the decision to
                     stop they need ‘support’ immediately. Such a facility should be located by the ‘pay
                     and display’ ticket machine or adjacent to the main exit from the car park.

          There is a need to investigate:

          *          the different options for the type of unit to be used

          *          the best possible locations.

          The design needs to be distinctive ideally using the branding logo. It must be attractive and
          user friendly. Once visitors have used one and they see another on their travels they will
          know it has what they want and go to use it. In truth, it becomes a high quality information and
          orientation resource that people want to use.


506       Role Of The Tourist Information Centre

          Llangollen TIC will continue to be an important point of information and advice for visitors. It
          needs to reflect the Dee Valley branding and would benefit from changing its name to
          Llangollen and Dee Valley TIC. There is a case for creating a special Dee Valley display
          area with high quality maps, photographs of key sites and racks for free promotional literature
          and publications, guides, maps to purchase etc. In addition, there should be a valley-wide
          attractive glossy publication with high quality map, details on the attractions, the route of the
          Dee Valley and North Berwyn Way and 4/5 suggested circular walks from key points.

          Staff have a powerful influence on what visitors see and do. They need training and
          familiarisation trips to the key sites and attractions so they can be ambassadors for the area.
          They also play a key role in helping people with accommodation and could sell Dee Valley
          ‘passports’ if the concept of joint ticketing between attractions was adopted (see 511 below).


507       Llangollen Museum

          The museum located on Parade Street is already attracting around 30,000 visitors. It is an
          excellent wet weather destination but has the potential to become a true intellectual gateway
          to the Dee Valley complementing the TIC and providing more detailed information for those
          who want to use it. With improved presentation, including interactive databases and the
          potential to develop a focused section on the history, culture and landscape of the Dee Valley,
          it could play a key role in the orientation and interpretation of the valley.


508       Concept Of Dispersed Gateways

          All the key sites in the Dee Valley whether they are attractions (Valle Crucis Abbey or
          Llangollen Horse Drawn Boats Centre), viewpoints (Ponderosa or Castell Dinas Bran), beauty
          spots (Horseshoe Falls), railway stations (Carrog), villages (Glyndfrdwy) or archaeological
          sites (Caer Drewyn) generate concentrations of visitor activity and are natural places at which
          the introduction to the wider Dee Valley can take place. They are, in effect, dispersed
          gateways. The facilities provided should be on similar lines to the key car parks and laybys
          (perhaps a little smaller) and include a changeable panel to include material on events, fetes,
          festivals, concerts, music in pubs taking place in the vicinity etc. They would:

          *          use the same high quality map

          *          provide more detailed information on the immediate area showing circular walks etc

          *          introduce the special stories of that particular area

          *

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          *          provide details of local events and activities (including seasonal messages about the
                     wildlife and ecology).


509       Village Information Points

          The principles described above should also be taken down to the village level. A series of
          village information/interpretation points has already been successfully developed and these
          provide a valuable introduction to the communities along the Dee Valley. In many way the
          villages are also ‘dispersed gateways’ (as described in 508) and the shop, pub or post office
          could become a mini information point within the Dee Valley with high quality orientation map,
          leaflet racks and an electronic information point. This could include details of local circular
          walks which could be selected ‘on screen’ and printed out then and there for immediate use.


510       The Importance Of Interpretation

          The brief referred to the need for a coherently themed, extensively interpreted and linked
          experience of the area’s geology, archaeology, natural environment, access and biodiversity.
          Some general guidance as to what interpretation is and the role it can play in visitor
          management is contained in Volume II : Section 6.

          We believe that the key interpretive objectives for the Dee Valley should be for visitors and
          residents to :

          (A)        Develop a better understanding and awareness:

                     *         of the cultural history of the Valley and especially its place in Welsh history
                               extending back to the independent Welsh kingdoms

                     *         of the significance of the Valley as a transport route

                     *         of the natural history of the Valley and especially its key habitats and species

                     *         of the wide range of activities that are available and to understand the
                               conflicts which can arise

          (B)        Appreciate the significance of, and be fascinated by:

                     *         the key sites and visitor attractions

                     *         the superb scenery

          (C)        Encouraging involvement and enjoyment:

                     *         in the use and maintenance of the network of routes for walkers, cyclists and
                               horse riders

                     *         of the facilities provided by the local community and by local businesses

                               and:

                     *         to make use of sustainable transport where available

                     *         to behave considerately towards others eg through controlling dogs and not
                               dropping litter.




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                                    EXISTING INTERPRETIVE PROVISION




           Sculptural feature on canal at Froncysyllte                           Cadw interpretive panel at
                                                                                    Valle Crucis Abbey




                                                                            Interpretive exhibition at Rhug Chapel


                      Village panel at Eglwyseg




                   Cadw panel at Eliseg’s Pillar                         Orientation panel in Trevor Basin car park




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511       Guiding Principles For Good Interpretation

          Several principles should be employed as interpretation of the Dee Valley is developed:

          *          partnership interpretation projects should be developed wherever possible to
                     encourage the partner organisations to work together and to contribute their
                     respective areas of expertise. This is particularly true for referral between sites,
                     guided walks programmes, circular self guided trails or developing programmes of
                     events. The aim should be to share limited resources to the maximum benefit of local
                     people and visitors and to provide coherent promotion of the wide range of resources
                     as well as activities and events already taking place

          *          use of local materials and locally sensitive design should be fundamental to all
                     interpretive and visitor management signage and media. The appropriate and
                     sensitive use of local natural materials, good local artists/craftsmen and designs
                     inspired by the local landscape will minimise visual intrusion and clutter. In this way
                     the landscape will retain its special sense of place. Careful planning has to be used to
                     provide adequate visitor orientation, reassurance and welcome without cluttering the
                     landscape with inappropriate, or inaccurate, signage.

          *          local communities should be involved in developing local interpretation eg through
                     oral history projects. Interpretation should reflect what is of importance to local people

          *          the needs of those with physical and mental impairment and compliance with the
                     Disability Discrimination Act should be central to any provision

          *          sustainable development principles should be applied and every opportunity taken
                     to encourage visitors to behave sustainably

          *          pre-testing, monitoring and evaluation should be built into any programme of
                     provision

          *          if the area is to be promoted successfully it is important to ensure that relevant
                     staff, activity providers and local amenity and community groups see interpretation as
                     an important part of their role. This could involve developing skills in:

                     -         offering face to face interpretation to visitors

                     -         developing interpretive trails

                     -         providing day to day ‘bulletin board’ panels

                     -         encouraging regular users and local experts to participate in interpretive
                               projects
                     -         training a local group to maintain a top quality interactive website

                     -         ensuring that on site interpretation is looked after and maintained.


512       Identifying The Key Interpretive Themes

          We believe that there are a number of key subject or topic areas which are important and
          encapsulate the essence of the Dee Valley. These include:

          *          the river itself which is a source of outstanding biodiversity, economic value and
                     scenic value

          *          the geology and geomorphology which has created the escarpments, mountains
                     and valleys that are so scenically beautiful and much admired



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          *          the role of the valley as a natural communications route which has been used by
                     man and wildlife for thousands of years and is today characterised by the railway,
                     road (A5), the river and the Llangollen Canal

          *          the important role of the hillforts for defence from the earliest times including Iron
                     Age hillforts, medieval castles, mottes (Owain Glyndŵr Mount) and more recently in
                     World War II

          *          man’s exploitation of the landscape through mining, quarrying, agriculture, forestry
                     and, today, recreation (from walking to trail biking)

          *          man’s footprint on the landscape through the complex pattern of settlement
                     including the towns, villages, churches, chapels, estates and houses which has
                     evolved since pre-historic times

          *          the music, poetry, art and cultural influences of the valley including the ancient
                     kingdom of Edeyrnion, Owain Glyndŵr, the Ladies of Llangollen to the modern day
                     Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.

          We propose an overarching interpretive theme which is the message above all others that we
          want visitors to take away with them after visiting the Dee Valley:


               The Dee Valley is a special place where you can enjoy wonderful scenery, Welsh
                        history and culture and active and exciting outdoor activities.


          From this we have developed three key themes with supporting sub-themes and topics as
          follows:

          Topic: Leisure

          Interpretive Theme: The Dee Valley is a vital leisure resource used by many visitors
          every year as somewhere beautiful and natural to relax

          Sub Themes                                      Topics

          You can enjoy a wide range of                   Walking. Excellent range of long and short walks. New
          outdoor pursuits in the valley                  open access. Guided walks programme. The new
                                                          Country Code and respect for the working farmed
                                                          landscape.
                                                          Cycling. Both mountain biking and family cycling
                                                          provide access to beautiful scenery
                                                          Climbing. Good routes north of Llangollen and being
                                                          developed at Corwen.
                                                          Canoeing. White water and more gentle activity is
                                                          available.
                                                          Fishing. Excellent grayling and trout and some salmon.
                                                          River management and conservation. Conflict with
                                                          other users and scope for mutual benefit
                                                          Support for local shops, pubs etc.

          The moors, woodland, farmland                   Red squirrel. Exists in the area but only at one location
          and river support an outstandingly              and very rare there, so visitors should not expect to see
          rich wildlife                                   it!



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                                                          Salmon. Low numbers for complex reasons. An
                                                          opportunity to show the complex nature of species
                                                          conservation
                                                          Otter. A conservation success story
                                                          Black grouse. Again a success story but this time of
                                                          moorland management. Links to other key upland
                                                          species eg hen harrier, merlin and ring ouzel
                                                          The limestone scarps and screes on the north side
                                                          which define the special landscape quality of parts of
                                                          the Valley and the contrast with the       sandstone
                                                          landscapes to the south. Limestone grassland and
                                                          heather moorland




          Topic: Culture

          Interpretive Theme: Man has lived, worked and worshipped here for 5,000 years and
          you can find fascinating evidence in this beautiful landscape if you take the trouble to
          look

          Sub Themes                                      Topics

          Was the Holy Grail brought here?                Joseph of Arimethea, the Holy Grail, Castell Dinas
                                                          Bran, the spring of St Collen, Eliseg’s Pillar,
                                                          Gueinevere’s Cross and the early archaeology at Valle
                                                          Crucis provide ample stories to bring the Dark Ages in
                                                          this area to life.

          You can discover some wonderful                 Valle Crucis and the Cistercians
          Medieval sites in the Valley
                                                          Rhug Chapel, Llangar Church
                                                          Corwen and Llangollen churches

          200 years ago Llangollen already                Plas Newydd and the Ladies of Llangollen provide a
          had fame and notoriety                          wonderful site and a fascinating story.

          Welsh Princes ruled this area for               The Iron Age hillfort of Caer Drewyn, the 5th century
          1,000 years                                     princedom of Edeyrnion and the several places linked
                                                          to Owain Glyndŵr especially Llidiart y Parc provide a
                                                          picture of life before and during the English invasion.
                                                          Opportunities should be taken to explain Welsh place
                                                          names and to bring to life the bardic culture that was
                                                          thriving 1500 years ago with its links to modern Welsh
                                                          culture.
                                                          If the Heather and Hillforts initiative is not successful the
                                                          Iron Age landscape will still need to be interpreted

          The signs of managing the land in               Limestone quarries. Tram roads. Disused mine. Grouse
          past centuries are still visible                butts

          Llangollen welcomes the world at                Welsh culture, poetry, music, drama and art plus the
          its annual Musical Eisteddfod                   international role of the eisteddfod




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          Topic: Transport

          Interpretive Theme: The Dee Valley has been an historic route for communications
          through road, rail and canal for thousands of years

          Sub Themes                                        Topics

          The Romans marched this way                       There is little visible evidence of the Romans in the
          and established settlements in                    present landscape. However it is thought that the
          Corwen and Bala                                   south slopes of Caer Drewyn were use for growing
                                                            grapes!

          The railway brought the first                     Historic coach route that preceded the railway
          tourists to the area in the 1860’s
                                                            Where did the first tourists come from?
          and they continue to come today
                                                            What did they do?
                                                            Development of settlements to provide for visitors
                                                            needs.
                                                            The railway today

          The Llangollen Canal carries                      The famous canal engineer Thomas Telford was
          millions of gallons of water a day                invited to construct one of the most famous canals in
          from the River Dee to the                         the country
          communities of South Cheshire
                                                            The Horseshoe Falls is an innovative weir which
                                                            provides the essential water for the canal and for the
                                                            daily needs of communities in South Cheshire
                                                            The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, standing proudly 127 feet
                                                            above the River Dee, is an outstanding feat of
                                                            engineering which has stood majestically for 200 years
                                                            The canal is a focus for pleasure boating today which
                                                            brings economic benefit to Llangollen and the Dee
                                                            Valley



513       Becoming More Interpretation Orientated

          All interpretation should aim to reflect the objectives and themes which have been discussed
          above. Several different organisations are involved in interpretation within the Dee Valley. To
          avoid duplication of effort, avoid confusion for the visitor and strengthen the overall message it
          is essential these groups work more closely together. We propose there should be an
          Interpretation Forum (514) of all providers to ensure greater cooperation, coordination and
          encourage joint working. The pros and cons of a range of interpretive media which could be
          utilised for the Dee Valley are set out in Volume II : Section 6.


514       Enhancing The Attractions

          Our assessment of the key sites of visitor relevance has found that:

          *          many had low visitor numbers eg. Valley Crucis Abbey, Rhug Chapel, Plas Newydd

          *          some have excellent interpretation including:

                     -         Plas Newydd
                     -         Valle Crucis Abbey


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                     -         Rhug Chapel
                     -         Llangollen Horse Drawn Boats Centre (commentary)

          *          many of the villages have attractive community interpretation boards which are
                     extremely valuable eg. Llantysilio, Carrog, Rhewl and Eglwyseg

          *          many attractions have little or no interpretation:

                     -         Castell Dinas Bran (new interpretation on the way)
                     -         Ponderosa
                     -         Horseshoe Falls and the Llangollen Canal
                     -         Owain Glyndŵr motte
                     -         Trevor Basin (orientation panels to be installed and Information Point
                               operational)
                     -         Caer Drewyn
                     -         Peny y Pigyn

          *          there is no general interpretation (interpretive panels or marker plaques) in Llangollen
                     and Corwen telling the story of the evolution of both towns, the key buildings etc

          *          Llangollen Railway provides a nostalgic experience but could do much more to
                     present its story and the railway’s role in tourism in relation to the growth of Llangollen
                     and the Dee Valley. The individuals stations all have a story to tell (whilst capturing
                     the nostalgia) and the train ride could be augmented with descriptive commentary

          *          Llangollen Motor Museum has a special character of its own which is drawn out by its
                     collection, memorabilia and owners which cannot be replicated or improved

          *          Llangollen Museum has a huge role to play and will inevitably need to move towards
                     more professional presentation

          *          the churches and chapels are a huge underexploited resource : a ‘church open doors’
                     initiative should be introduced working with the Diocese

          *          other key sites on the public rights of way network eg. Nant y Pandy quarries and
                     viewpoints deserve interpretation.

          We would recommend:

          *          each site has an important role in placing the site, building or feature in the wider Dee
                     Valley context

          *          high quality visitor orientation should be introduced at each site by developing the Dee
                     Valley Information Point

          *          discussions with potential partners (including Forestry Commission Wales, Cadw and
                     British Waterways) should be held with the objective of adopting a co-ordinated
                     approach to interpretation within the valley : an Interpretation Forum should be
                     established

          *          agreement is required to produce a copyright free map available for all the
                     organisations involved in the Dee Valley visitor economy

          *          a programme of on-site interpretation should be introduced at the key sites which
                     currently have little or no existing interpretation : particularly Horseshoe Falls, Caer
                     Drewyn and Ponderosa




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          *          interpretive proposals should be developed for Llangollen and Corwen to draw out the
                     historical importance of each town through their respective architectural and cultural
                     heritage

          *          the Countryside Service, in association with the Heritage Unit, should identify key
                     sites and features on the rights of way network which should be interpreted : funding
                     should be sought and a programme of implementation should be undertaken

          *          discussions should be held with the Diocese and individual churches to assess
                     whether some of the more important and picturesque churches could be opened to
                     visitors during the peak visitor period eg. Llantysilio Church.


515       The Importance Of Networking

          Our initial analysis identified common problems across the attraction sector:

          *          every site doing ‘its own thing’ with no joined up thinking

          *          no consideration of collaborative ticketing and marketing

          *          no recognition that they are located in the Dee Valley.

          Whilst we have addressed the Dee Valley wide orientation issue there are a number of
          attractions which would benefit from working together by:

          *          exchanging intelligence (including undertaking an annual visitor survey)

          *          participating in joint promotions within the marketing plan

          *          considering introducing a Dee Valley ‘passport’ for those attractions which charge
                     entrance

          This could give visitors a discount on admission, or a retail and catering incentive, and be
          promoted as part and parcel of the new short break initiatives.

          Joint working could be extended to another level where, for instance, historic cars from
          Llangollen Motor Museum could be used for a programme of Dee Valley Tours promoted by
          hotels, or where the Countryside Unit could promote circular walks of different length and
          difficulty using the train or public transport and linked to hotels and B & B’s which makes the
          whole valley more accessible and interesting.            Establishing the Interpretation Forum
          (discussed in 513 above) to encourage this to happen is crucial.


516       Maximising Corwen’s Potential

          Whilst Corwen functions effectively as a market town the economy is dependant on a few key
          businesses. It has a range of traditional shops, broadband, a good range of community
          facilities including the one-stop shop, sports complex and leisure centre. It is also developing
          new cultural and tourism facilities with the Workhouse and Corwen Arts Centre but there is
          only one restaurant and no pubs serve evening meals. There are issues of yobbish behaviour
          (similar to Llangollen) and the condition of the public toilets leaves room for concern.

          Corwen has a rich cultural heritage that deserves to be recognised and presented. It is an
          important gateway at the western end of the valley but, being realistic, at this stage it cannot
          compete with Llangollen in the mindset of the visitor. It has its own special qualities which
          need to be maximised and it should take advantage of Llangollen and what it can bring to the
          whole Dee Valley. It must recognise its weaknesses and build on its strengths and,
          particularly, its Welshness.



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          The overall environmental and townscape quality of the main road through town needs to be
          upgraded. A sustained programme of improvement is required to catch the eye of the traveller
          and encourage them to stop. There is a need for an Environmental Improvement Strategy
          for the town which can be phased and implemented over say 5 years. In the short term
          hanging baskets on lampposts and on properties would make a great difference.

          We set out a number of core proposals for the town to grow its potential:

          *          the three car parks in the town need to be more attractive and welcoming. At present
                     they are not landscaped, scruffy and uncared for. The main car park is particularly
                     important in the context of the railway

          *          the extension of the railway to Corwen is essential. Not only would it extend and
                     enhance the railway experience for visitors but it would bring 80,000 captive visitors to
                     Corwen : the challenge is then to get them to stay and explore. Even if they spent £2
                     per head in the local economy this is equivalent to £160,000 per annum and an
                     additional 5 FTE jobs

          *          the railway could also offer a ‘park and ride’ facility for visitors coming from Bala and
                     the west which would not only be an attractive way of arriving in Llangollen but would
                     reduce traffic congestion in the town : it should be positioned in this way

          *          the link between the station platform and the town centre is crucial : this needs to be
                     built into the Environmental Improvement Strategy. Visitor orientation at the station
                     will be essential and the opportunity to introduce food, drink and speciality retail along
                     the route would strengthen the economic benefits that can be derived for the town

          *          the cultural heritage of Corwen, including the ancient princedom of Ederyrnion and
                     Owain Glyndŵr, is important and precious to local people. The potential to develop a
                     community heritage project which celebrates Corwen’s role in Welsh history should be
                     investigated. By developing this at a community level with local people interested in
                     local history and initially using vacant premises, establishing a community archive
                     based on community reminiscences through oral history and creating displays which
                     celebrate the rich heritage of the town it will be possible to develop a community
                     museum which reflects what is special about Corwen. It should major on the
                     Welshness of the community and have displays (or electronic feature) on local hero
                     Owain Glyndŵr

          *          a key element of this community heritage should be strengthening and enhancing the
                     town trail as a high quality route around town picking up the key buildings including
                     Corwen Church (and finding a way to have it opened regularly), introducing on-site
                     interpretation, marker plaques on historic buildings and considering the use of modern
                     technology eg. an audio trial

          *          as part of drawing out the Welshness of the community local businesses should work
                     with the Welsh Language Board to ensure all signage and menus are bilingual,
                     encourage all staff working with visitors to use Welsh as a sign of welcome and
                     farewell and to introduce events and activities in the pubs and in the town square
                     which celebrate Corwen’s cultural heritage eg. folk dancing, music, harp, poetry,
                     storytelling etc

          *          it is important to create and effectively manage the proposed climbing wall in Pen y
                     Pigyn quarry to the highest possible quality. This should be marketed to visitors and
                     not just perceived as a local resource : it should be part of the activity visitor economy
                     package for the Dee Valley

          *          developing a circular walk around Corwen which links Yr Graig, Peny y Pigyn and
                     Caer Drewyn and the riverside which should ideally start at the new station




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          *          supporting the Countryside Unit in developing the North Berwyn Way (the link
                     between Corwen and Llangollen on the south side of the valley)

          *          working with Forestry Commission Wales to develop footpath links out of the town
                     onto the Berwyn and also a mountain bike trail with links down into the Ceiriog Valley

          *          through sustained community fundraising seek grants to enable an objective
                     Feasibility Study to be undertaken into the options available for Corwen Pavilion : for
                     there to be a realistic future for the building and the site this study is essential. It is
                     going to require strong commitment and belief from within the community to raise the
                     funds required to undertake the necessary study and then to pursue further funding to
                     realise an agreed vision. There is evidence of similar projects across the UK which
                     have been achieved against all the odds by communities : why not in Corwen?

          *          develop training programmes for businesses in relation to creating the Corwen visitor
                     experience

          *          to promote the leisure centre, with its swimming pool, gym and solarium, as a facility
                     for visitors staying locally as well as locals

          *          to encourage shops and pubs to adopt a more visitor focused approach to their
                     operation including opening later and pubs considering the provision of evening meals

          *          encourage all accommodation providers to become quality assured

          *          negotiate with Rhug Organic Farm to devise a way to create a western gateway into
                     the Dee Valley on their site. Raising awareness of what the Dee Valley has got to
                     offer for people visiting the farm shop will inevitably change attitudes and behaviour
                     and encourage people who had not thought about the area before to explore the
                     western end of the Dee Valley

          *          commission a Feasibility Study into the potential to establish a mountain bike trail with
                     support facilities on the Rhug Estate

          *          investigate the potential to floodlight key buildings (including the church) and the cliff
                     face and to consider an annual son et lumière to celebrate Owain Glyndŵr

          *          there is a need for a small grants conservation scheme which could be used to top up
                     Cadw grants to achieve steady townscape improvement. Experience elsewhere in
                     Wales eg. Brecon has shown that such schemes, especially when applied with the
                     minimum, of bureaucracy can gradually achieve significant improvements in the
                     townscape quality of small towns.

          The role of the Business Action Group is
          crucial. It should adopt the philosophy of
          Integrated Quality Management. There is a
          need to create an ethic of ‘can do’ :
          technical sub-groups should be established
          led by people with time, vision and
          commitment to make things happen.




                              Selection of leaflets on Corwen




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517       Making More Of Llangollen

          Llangollen is the traditional focus and magnet for visitors drawn by the dramatic river, the
          International Musical Eisteddfod and the stunning scenery. We have highlighted that the
          visitor infrastructure is tired and there is evidence of complacency : businesses seem to think
          that they do not have to do anything to attract visitors. The retail offer should be stronger and
          there is a case for appointing a Town Manager to take a proactive role in stimulating the
          business community.

          The core proposals are:

          *          improve the town entrance signage : signage stimulating eager anticipation rather
                     than the dull and drab existing signage

          *          the need for much better white on brown signage to lead visitors to the key car parks

          *          the need for attractive car parks (with CCTV) and a sense of welcome. These should
                     not be pay on arrival for visitors since this gives a poor first impression (finding
                     change etc) and invariably people underestimate their length of stay and then have to
                     leave earlier than they might otherwise. Pay on departure is preferable

          *          the need for quality visitor orientation and information in the key car parks

          *          enhanced fingerpost signage around the town and particularly to the TIC

          *          concentrate deliveries on Castle Street before 10:00am to reduce congestion during
                     the day and improve the visual appearance of the shops

          *          adopt more visitor focused opening hours

          *          eliminate temporary and illegal signage on the streets

          *          reduce or remove signage and poster clutter

          *          undertake feasibility study into the concept of park and ride using the Royal Pavilion

          *          make more of the river : extend public access and the footpath network

          *          develop an effective link between the Llangollen Horse Drawn Boats Centre and the
                     new mooring basin and the town centre

          *          instigate environmental improvement and townscape programmes on the main streets
                     (not least the A5) and raise the level of maintenance and management

          *          investigate the potential to develop street café and restaurant opportunities whilst
                     ensuring there is a safe and secure town environment

          *          introduce a ban on the consumption of alcohol in the town centre using the powers of
                     the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 in order to reduce drink related crime and
                     yobbish behaviour. Orders under this Act give the police the power to confiscate
                     alcohol from drinkers in named streets and areas. The drinkers behaviour is the
                     deciding factor in any action by police which means responsible drinking eg.
                     pavement cafes are not affected. Fines can also be imposed by the courts. The
                     regulations provide for wide ranging consultation before an order is introduced. Many
                     towns and cities throughout Britain have introduced such orders to control antisocial
                     drinking in the last 4 years including Brighton, Stoke on Trent, Aberystwyth and Rhyl.

          Llangollen ‘holds all the aces’ : nearly 1m visitors per year, an attractive town and river, nice
          restaurants and good attractions. It is fundamental to the ‘attract and disperse’ principle from


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                                                    ISSUES IN LLANGOLLEN




                                    Faded fingerposts                               Signage clutter




     What’s this                                                                                              Signage remnants
      all about?                                                                                              in the town centre




           How many signs can you have outside a hotel?                                  A real difference?




How many signs
can you get on a
     wall?




                                                                            Tourist and Visitor car park but not signed in
                                                                                 these terms from the edge of town


   Raising the Standard : The Visitor Economy Strategy for the Dee Valley                                      Page Number 58
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          which the whole of the Dee Valley stands to benefit. However, there is a need to raise the
          stakes, adopt Integrated Quality Management, insist on quality, be more customer focused
          and to market its qualities better if it is to sustain its popularity and spread its benefits along
          the whole of the Dee Valley.

          There is a strong case for the appointment of a Town Centre Manager like almost 500 towns
          and cities around the UK. Town Centre Management is a coordinated proactive initiative
          designed to ensure that the town is a desirable and attractive place in which to live, work,
          shop and recreate. They are almost always a partnership between the public and private
          sector which brings together a wide range of key interests. The Manager becomes the
          interface between the local authority and the business community and can play a promotional
          and entrepreneurial role in stimulating new initiatives and, in the Dee Valley, delivering the
          elements of this vision.

          It is worth investigating the Association of Town Centre Managers web site www.atcm.org and
          researching some of the case studies. Our strategy sets out to achieve many, if not all, of the
          initiatives that other towns have faced before and the role of the Town Centre Manager has
          been pivotal in this.




                                                                                Selection of leaflets about facilities
                                                                                           in Llangollen




           Heritage attractions leaflets in
                   the Dee Valley




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518       Making The Most Of The Villages

          Without sustainable visitor economies village facilities like shops, pubs and post offices will
          suffer. Ideally each community should, in addition to a Community Appraisal, have a brief
          community visitor economy strategy setting out its aspirations and constraints. Walking is an
          obvious source of income along with other outdoor recreation. Village shops, pubs and
          information boards need to provide appropriate information for walkers and cyclists and to
          actively welcome them. Some villages can also benefit from heritage tourism. Funding
          streams such as the HLF ‘Your Heritage’ programme are available for interpreting and
          promoting local cultural heritage.

          There is also scope for a more coordinated approach to village and farm tourism in the Valley
          and for individual providers to make more use of supportive networks. Farmstay UK, for
          example, is a network of farm-based accommodation with good links into the European
          market. It is a member of Eurogites, the European Federation for Farm and Village Tourism.
          There are plenty of members in Wales and over 1100 in the UK but none in the Dee Valley.

          Llandrillo, Cynwyd, Gwyddelwern, Carrog, Rhewl and Glydyfrdwy all have potential to benefit
          from increased outdoor recreation. At Glyndyfrdwy better parking and interpretation would
          enhance the attractive walk which has been provided. Gwyddelwern, with its superbly
          renovated ancient pub, could act as a gateway in the north west corner of the valley with
          effective visitor orientation. At Carrog and Glyndyfrdwy railway stations better interpretation
          could be provided.

          As previously explained most of the villages already have attractive village interpretation and
          notice boards. These introduce the history of the village and some offer walking routes.
          None, however, put the village in the context of the wider Dee Valley. We have suggested the
          concept of a Dee Valley Information Point and a smaller versions should also be introduced in
          the villages.

          We have also discussed the increasing role of the village shop/post office or pub in acting as a
          village information point. In the next 5 years the use of computer terminals in these facilities
          offering print outs of interpreted circular walks or interpretation on the geology, wildlife or
          village church will be increasingly available and should be aspired to.


519       Maximising The Potential Of The Countryside

          Walking

          There is currently no Countryside Strategy, Walking Tourism Strategy or Rights of Way
          Improvement Plan for Denbighshire and there is little explicit information available on the
          needs of the walking tourist in the Dee Valley. Thus, while the target may be to have all the
          public rights of way open and useable there appears to be little guidance on which routes
          should be given priority for promotion and maintenance. A basic priority paths network,
          including permissive as well as public rights of way, which could be cross-checked against
          environmental sensitivities and community aspirations would be valuable. This also applies, of
          course, to byways and bridleways as well as footpaths. The needs of those with disabilities
          could also be addressed by such an approach. This may be developed in the Rights of Way
          Improvement Plan which has to be completed during 2007.

          Priorities are determined by the existence of the Offa’s Dyke National Trail and the Dee Valley
          Way. The latter will provide a circular route on both sides of the Dee Valley (the south side
          called the North Berwyn Way) offering attractive walks of a day or more linking the various
          villages. The promotional booklet and website (www.deevalleywalks.com) are already
          excellent. This is supplemented by a range of shorter walks described in various leaflets and
          walks publications.




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          Generally the network is adequate with good routes linking the valley bottom to the hills
          above. It must continue to be well maintained and managed. The economic return to the local
          community for every pound spent on the network should be assessed as it will be significant.

          The main gap is along the river itself where, as so often happened in Wales, powerful land
          owning interests prevented paths from being placed on the definitive map in the 50s and 60s.
          West of Horseshoe Falls there are very few riverside paths. More permissive routes here
          would be of real benefit but may be difficult to negotiate.

          Above the hill fence there are opportunities for excellent hill walks on Ruabon and Llantisilio
          Mountains on the north side and the Berwyn on the south. The Countryside and Rights of Way
          Act has, of course, secured access to these areas and south of Corwen new connecting
          routes are being negotiated to give easier access to the open hill.

          The County Council provides 5 or 6 guided walks in the valley each year. There may be scope
          for significantly increasing this number but that may depend on having enough enthusiastic
          and trained volunteer walk leaders. Other organisations also provide guided walks eg the
          Edeyrnioin Ramblers Association.

          The landscape of the Dee Valley is superb and has so much to offer walkers but is not well
          known partly because it is overshadowed by the adjacent Clwydian Range AONB and
          Snowdonia National Park. With more coordinated promotion and marketing it should attract
          more walkers.

          The core proposals are to:

          *          collate all Dee Valley walks information into a single publication

          *          offer to provide at least contact details for other organisation’s guided walks in the
                     annual County Council ‘Out and About’ booklet

          *          provide basic walks information (the top 10 walks of the Dee Valley) in French,
                     German and Dutch available from the TIC and on-line

          *          provide a separate ‘Access for All’ publication directing visitors with disabilities to
                     suitable sites and walks

          *          make information on the sheer range and diversity of walks available in the Dee
                     Valley more widely available especially at accommodation providers including caravan
                     and campsites. There is huge potential for being able to down-load local walks maps
                     from computer terminals in accommodation, information points, garages, post offices
                     and the like. This is the way forward and will become the ‘norm’ over the next five
                     years. It is already proving successful along the Pembrokeshire Coast

          *          improve links with public transport. The proposed Dee Valley Hopper should be
                     strongly promoted to the walking market. The railway should also make more of the
                     walking market with circular and connecting walks at and between stations

          *          the capacity of businesses in the walking market should be assessed. A questionnaire
                     should be issued to the accommodation, catering, outdoor retail, guided walking and
                     training sectors to identify barriers to development

          *          develop an annual Walking Festival for the Dee Valley to raise awareness

          *          improve on site interpretation for a small selection of popular walks eg Horseshoe
                     Falls, Castell Dinas Bran and the Nant y Pandy Tramway

          *          improve parking facilities for key walks eg. at Glyndyfrdwy

          *          create short circular riverside walk from the new station in Corwen.

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          Outdoor Countryside Activities

          The concept of Integrated Quality Management is considered in 602 below. This is
          particularly important to the outdoor activity sector as it is the process through which both
          destinations and activities can be managed through partnership. The process can also be
          used to identify the strengths and shortcomings of a destination in relation to the activities
          themselves. Activity providers need support in investing in their businesses

          With the exception of some of the rock climbs and one stretch of white water the Dee Valley is
          likely to be more attractive to beginners and intermediates than the high adrenaline expert and
          product development should reflect that. Many visitors want an outdoor experience that offers
          challenge and excitement without real danger. They also look for good food, a friendly
          welcome and comfortable accommodation in an attractive landscape. The Dee Valley should
          be able to provide for those who wish to try out new activities and those who want to learn
          new skills in a convenient and safe location.

          Visitors who undertake activities in the countryside without spending money locally impose
          costs on the landscape without bringing benefit to local businesses. Products should be
          developed that encourage overnight stays and use of local food outlets. How this is done will
          vary with each market segment.

          The core proposals are to support:

          *          investment in appropriate equipment, instruction facilities, changing/drying rooms,
                     catering, accommodation and offices/reception facilities including ICT. These are as
                     important to the one person operator working from home as to the large business

          *          training for staff at all levels in customer care, quality management, health and safety
                     and the use of ICT (as well as any technical skills required)

          *          investment needed to meet the Disability Discrimination Act requirements

          *          development of links and partnerships with the accommodation and catering sectors
                     (where these services are not provided internally) so that customers can be given an
                     efficient and integrated service and so that all sectors understand the needs of their
                     partners. This includes the need for information on activities to be linked to
                     accommodation so that visitors can make bookings in a seamless way.

          Clearly a public : private partnership is needed if the outdoor activities market is to realise its
          full potential but it is necessary for the providers to work closely together. Although they cover
          larger areas the Outdoor Activity Charter Groups in Pembrokeshire and Brecon Beacons offer
          a good model. A Dee Valley Activity Holiday Group should be established to:

          *          give a focus for the delivery of training and business support for activity operators

          *          develop collaborative marketing projects

          *          network and refer business between operators

          *          give a stronger local voice for the adventure activities industry

          *          ensure the promotion of environmental good practice, safety and quality within the
                     adventure activities industry.

          Green accreditation is becoming increasingly important for outdoor activity providers.

          Environmental considerations are now likely to form part of visitors thinking. Whilst the more
          highly focused participant often does not overtly care about values other than the sport in
          hand, many visitors are here for the landscape and wildlife values rather than just the
          adrenaline experience. Outdoor people are already interested in their environment and this is


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          a trend that is only likely to intensify. The adoption of the Green Dragon Standard by WTB
          gives an excellent chance to take this process forward. Investment to comply with Green
          Dragon is eligible for WTB Section 4 funding and should be seen as a priority.

          The market for “Red Letter Days” is rapidly developing and gives destinations a profile in high
          quality and high value promotions. There are significant opportunities for individual businesses
          but a mechanism is needed to make the necessary links and ensure the Dee Valley breaks
          into this market.

          The concept of the Walking Festival can, of course, be expanded into an Outdoor Activities
          Festival providing demonstrations, advice and retail opportunities. The Ludlow Spring
          Festival : a Celebration of Outdoor Activity and the Brecon Festival of Adventure and
          Exploration are good examples.




                                           Adventure and outdoor activity leaflets


          Angling and Canoeing

          While there is lack of agreement about the best way forward there is general consensus
          amongst consultees that the conflict between the canoeing and angling interests needs to be
          resolved for the long term benefit of the local economy. Canoeing has the potential to bring
          significant income into the area and increased access for canoeing generally has government
          support.

          A paper giving the background and suggesting a way forward is provided in Volume II :
          Appendix F. The key point is that angling and canoeing can be of mutual benefit if properly
          managed. Income provided from canoeing could be used for habitat improvement and to
          improve angling facilities. Four types of group are suggested as options for making progress
          but a prerequisite is to independently assess the full potential benefits to the local economy of
          improved angling and better canoe access. A wide range of figures has been mentioned and
          an agreed figure might provide the impetus to make progress.

          Suggestions have been made for a pumped white water canoe facility to be created at Corwen
          on the flood plain and there is support for this locally. However, this would require very
          significant capital investment and would depend on funds being allocated for flood mitigation
          measures. The most recent tranche of mitigation funding announced by the Welsh Assembly
          Government does not include Corwen and, realistically, creation of such a facility is very
          unlikely in the short term. Certainly the extension of the railway should have higher priority.




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          Mountain Biking

          There does appear to be potential for expanding mountain bike provision within the Dee Valley
          given the size and accessibility of the catchment market and the significant economic benefits
          that can accrue. Spending by mountain bikers using Forestry Commission Wales trails was
          estimated to be around £3.3 million in the local economy in 2003.

          Three official routes are promoted by Denbighshire County Council but there are many
          unofficial routes. Agreements need formalising for these and then the package needs
          marketing.

          Tilhill Forestry have developed and opened a mountain biking centre at Llandegla (and also
          considering a Go Ape Ropes Course). Those wanting longer rides will extend from Llandegla
          into the valley and along the northern edge. Rhug Estate is keen to develop mountain biking.
          It might also be possible to extend the successful Ride the Clwyds website to the Dee Valley
          under a Ride Denbighshire umbrella.

          The USPs of the area should be its accessibility and the quality of infrastructure that is
          provided. Mountain bikers tend to be extreme sports enthusiasts and are prepared to travel
          considerable distances to enjoy their favourite sport. They normally need to change into their
          cycling clothes, find a toilet and construct their bike which is carried in the back of the car or
          on a carrying frame located on the roof / rear of the car. Mountain biking inevitably means
          getting hot, sweaty, sometimes wet and invariably the bike is also dirty at the end of a long
          ride. Evidence suggests that without facilities bikers change in car parks and go home dirty
          with their bike dirty in the car. When they experience heavy rain they have no facilities to dry
          off. By doing so they generate no economic value into the visitor economy.

          The provision of modest facilities could significantly enhance the quality of the overall visitor
          experience and encourage them to stay, spend and recommend the Dee Valley to their
          friends:

          *          providing changing facilities (perhaps with lockers)

          *          providing showers with instant hot water

          *          bike wash with jet water spray

          *          having access to a good wholesome drink and food.

          Such facilities could be provided in an area like the Rhug Estate. The feasibility of such a
          project needs to be tested and evaluated.

          Family Cycling

          Promoting cycle tourism and providing improved cycle routes and facilities can lead to an
          increase in visitor numbers.

          The main potential for family cycling is along the railway east of Llangollen but access is likely
          to be opposed by landowners. Most of the route is in public ownership and is protected in
          planning policies. Access agreements could be devised. The railway west from Corwen to
          Bala also has potential. Disused railways are excellent for the less mobile as the gradients are
          so gentle. More family friendly cycling facilities are required including cycle hire facilities or
          cycle shops.

          The main opportunity is to promote family cycling on a quiet lanes network as pioneered by
          the Countryside Agency and several partners in different parts of England. Quiet lanes are
          minor rural roads which are appropriate for shared use by walkers, cyclists, horse riders and
          motorised users. These roads should already have low levels of traffic travelling at low
          speeds. Quiet lanes are part of a toolkit of ideas the Countryside Agency has for improving



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          travel choice, quality of life and strategic traffic management of rural roads to the benefit of
          local residents and businesses as well as visitors.

          The minor roads along the north side of the Dee eg. between Rhewl and Carrog and between
          Rhug and Llandrillo would appear to be suitable. This initiative would need the active support
          of the Highway Authority for:

          *          Quiet lanes signs informing drivers that they are entering and leaving a Quiet Lane

          *          Quiet lanes repeater signs within the network

          *          gateway treatment and traffic calming to remind all users that they are on a Quiet lane

          *          signing through traffic on to the most appropriate route.

          Such a network would need appropriate promotion and monitoring.

          Climbing

          Climbing is still a fast growing sport and good climbing and abseiling opportunities exist in the
          area especially on Trevor Rocks and at Creigiau Egywyseg. A new guide, Clwyd Rock, will be
          available during 2005 and should bring in more climbing business. The area is good with 4-5
          miles of cliff with a good range of traditional, single and multi pitch and sports climbs. It tends
          to be overlooked as it is located en route to Snowdonia but there is scope for increased use.
          Plans are well advanced for an outdoor climbing wall in the Coed Pen y Pigyn quarry in
          Corwen which should prove popular. However, it requires to be developed to the highest
          quality, effectively managed and marketed to generate its full potential.

          This facility should be supported and the climbing opportunities throughout the valley should
          be promoted as part of the activity holiday package.

          Horse Riding

          There seems to be little enthusiasm for developing equestrian business in the area. The
          bridleway network is not particularly good, with many dead ends, but some areas have good
          routes eg. Llantysilio Mountain and the area east of Llandrillo. Bridleways onto the open hill
          provide good opportunities for hacking and pony trekking and this would seem to be a niche
          waiting to be filled. In the overall scheme of things equestrian activities are of a lower priority
          than other activity programmes.

          Motor sports

          The issue of illegal off-road motor biking was discussed in Volume II : Supporting Information
          407. Recent research (Countryside Recreation Vol 13 Number 2) refers to a 55% increase in
          sales of off-road motorbikes and quads in 2004. The problem is clearly with us for a number
          of years to come and needs to be addressed in a positive way.

          Enforcement is certainly part of the answer and recent legislation (Police Reform Act 2002)
          allows seizure of ‘mechanically propelled vehicles’ being used to cause ‘alarm, distress or
          annoyance’ if the owner refuses to stop or leave. Coordinated efforts by countryside staff and
          police in several parts of the UK have reduced the problem significantly.

          However, the problem is normally moved elsewhere and alternatives to enforcement are
          needed. Alan Kind, an expert in this area, has written:

          ‘In the mid 1980’s to mid 1990’s there was a spate of trail park development with considerable
          grant support. Many sites failed completely and those that survived did so by evolving away
          from motorcycle based activity to karts, quads and 4 x 4’s:




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          *          apart from motocross practice tracks there is very little ‘gate money’ in motorcycling
                     and well regulated karting, quadding and 4 x 4 driving is disciplined, safe and,
                     crucially, insurable

          *          the idea that sites can be provided where current illegal off-road motorcyclists can
                     replicate the type of riding they do now is imply untenable on risk and liability
                     grounds’.

          Nevertheless, despite this view there are examples of good practice which may help to show
          the way ahead. In North Lanarkshire illegal biking complaints to the policy throughout the
          council area dropped from 7,000 in 2002 to 1,100 in 2003 making an estimated saving in
          police time of £70,000. This amazing turnaround resulted from the formation of the North
          Lanarkshire Scramble and Quad Bike Club (www.nlsqbc.com). Along with other initiatives the
          club has established two trail bike tracks on private land which was old iron ore workings
          surrounded by forestry.

          Illegal motor biking is a major problem especially on Llantysilio Mountain. Similar to other
          places like North Larnarkshire and Brecon Beacons National Park concerted partnership
          working between the Denbighshire Countryside Service and the police has proved very
          successful during Summer 2005 but it is clear the problem will not disappear overnight. A
          ‘carrot’ in the form of an official site is required as well as the stick of confiscation.

          In the Dee Valley FCW may be able to provide a site but has not found an operator. A
          commercial partner, such as Wirral Off-Road, who are organising events on farms in the Dee
          Valley and throughout North East Wales may be the answer. If, as we recommend, Dee
          Valley Activity Holiday Group is established to monitor and develop recreational provision over
          the next 10 years then this issue, along with the angling : canoeing problem, should have high
          priority. The North Lanarkshire Club involves a high level of commitment from volunteers and
          parents. In the Dee Valley context there may be a need for several local authorities eg.
          Wrexham, Denbighshire and Flintshire to cooperate and, perhaps, provide initial finance and
          staffing expertise.    The resultant savings on enforcement costs, however, could be
          considerable.

          Other motor sports take place mainly west of Corwen with various initiatives under way. FCW
          is allowing rally testing in Cynwyd Forest in association with the freeholder Rhug Estate.
          Buggy racing is provided in a quarry area near Plas Isaf.

          Eco tourism

          This is a niche market but one which should not be underestimated. There are over 1million
          members of RSPB in the UK and the Dee Valley offers the chance to see rare and exciting
          species like the black grouse. A leaflet on the wildlife of the Valley with more easily accessible
          website information would help accommodation providers to make more of this asset. This
          should be one aspect of the Discover the Hidden Dee Valley initiative.

          Conclusion

          To make the most of the opportunities offered by outdoor activities we would make the
          following recommendations:

          *          bring providers together to prepare an Outdoor Activities Plan for the valley covering
                     the next 10 years

          *          a Dee Valley Activity Holiday Group is established

          *          a menu of outdoor activities for the area with information on restaurants,
                     accommodation and public transport is promoted

          *          establish good links between activity providers and other relevant businesses
                     especially quality assured accommodation


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          *          it is essential to resolve the perceived angling : canoeing conflict at the earliest
                     possible opportunity

          *          develop an agreed approach to the expansion of mountain biking

          *          agree use of the disused railway line for cycling and develop a Quiet Lanes network

          *          locate a site for legitimate motor bike and 4x4 use

          *          provide additional information on the ecology of the valley.

520       Maximising The Cultural Experience

          To many visitors to the Dee Valley the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod is the focus
          of cultural activities in the valley. They might not visit but see it as all things Welsh. Nothing
          could be further from the truth. The Musical Festival is international and it is The Fringe and
          other events and activities which widen the cultural dimension of Llangollen and the valley.
          Further, cultural activity in Llangollen tends to be more anglicised than in the west of the
          valley.

          Corwen, by contrast, has a strong Welsh tradition with its historical links to Owain Glyndŵr.
          The Pavilion has been the focus of cultural events for 70 years and more recently the National
          Young Farmers Eisteddfod, international sheep shearing competitions and concerts which are
          televised by S4C (Welsh Television Channel). The town has also established the Gwyl
          Glyndŵr.

          Welsh language activity has greatly increased in recent years with Corwen becoming a
          Language Programme Area (part of the Welsh Language Board’s strategic direction).
          Activities stimulating the development of the Welsh language are on the increase. Youth and
          Young Farmers groups have been established as well as Welsh language concerts and
          workshops. In other places across Wales the programme has encouraged the development of
          bilingual signage for retail and commercial businesses, menus in Welsh etc. It is important
          that this happens in Corwen which will contribute to the overall visitor experience. There could
          also be opportunities to enhance the cultural knowledge of the area through:

          *          promotion of indigenous cultural activity through ‘While you are Here’ initiatives eg. to
                     see, and experience, dancing, music, poetry and storytelling

          *          use of the Welsh language in interpretive initiatives

          *          the development of smaller and more frequent events and festivals at key sites
                     throughout the valley.

          Emphasis on the use of local food should reflect the growing importance of sustainable living.
          The regular Glyndwr Farmers Market and WI Market allow local produce and crafts to be sold
          on a regular basis. Rhug Organic Farm Shop promotes this principle to as many as 250,000
          visitors per annum. It is important that emphasis is placed on the use of local produce on
          menus in pubs, hotels, restaurants and in B & B’s in the Dee Valley. This could also be
          promoted through a marketing leaflet.

          The annual October Llangollen Food Festival has the potential to be bigger and better and,
          with wider promotion, can stimulate the short break market at a beautiful time of year.

521       Conclusion

          The Dee Valley is an inherently beautiful place offering a good product. However, as we have
          shown in this chapter so much more can be done to maximise its true potential. We now
          move on to describe how the effective coordination and management of this wide ranging
          initiative can be achieved.


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6.        ESTABLISHING A MECHANISM FOR DELIVERY

601       Introduction

          We have proposed a wide ranging programme of initiatives to enhance the economic
          prosperity of the Dee Valley. In this section we discuss how the project should be promoted,
          coordinated and managed to maximise its potential.


602       Embracing The Concept Of Integrated Quality Management

          The WTB has adopted the philosophy of Integrated Quality Management as a means of
          recognising and, by so doing, managing the positive and negative impacts tourism can have
          on the environment and local communities. IQM is described as:

          ‘….improving visitor satisfaction while seeking to improve the local economy, the
          environment and the quality of life of the local community.’

          It recommends 15 key principles:

          *          integration – concern for quality should be integrated into all the tourism functions of
                     a destination. The visitor experience does not just relate to the quality of
                     accommodation and attractions. The quality of welcome in shops, tea rooms, pubs
                     and other public places has an influence on how enjoyable and memorable a visit was
                     : what we have described as the whole visitor economy

          *          authenticity – visitors are seeking genuine experiences. The rural heritage should be
                     presented in a real way which does not fabricate or devalue it. The use of locally
                     produced food in restaurants, coffee shops and pubs is an important element of local
                     distinctiveness. Using locally produced pottery and furniture in accommodation can
                     also add to the uniqueness of a visit but visitors should be informed as to the origin of
                     these items so they are aware and can fully appreciate their significance

          *          distinctiveness – bringing out the special qualities of a destination. Visitors want to
                     experience something different. Speciality retail, drawing attention to local architecture
                     and distinctive buildings, interpreting local folklore and stories all add to the
                     distinctiveness and sense of place

          *          market realism – making realistic assessments of an area’s potential. Understanding
                     the product and its strength in terms of its competitors is crucial to avoid expensive
                     mistakes. It is important to build upon the strengths of the Dee Valley rather than try to
                     create something false

          *          sustainability – managing the impact of tourism on sensitive natural and
                     archaeological sites as well as villages and settlements

          *          consumer orientation – getting close to the visitor, understanding visitor needs and
                     finding out if they are being met. Regular visitor surveys should supply valuable
                     qualitative information as well as facts and figures. This needs to be filtered down to
                     individual operators so they are in a position to respond to the needs and aspirations
                     of their visitors

          *          inclusiveness – providing a good experience for all visitors including those with
                     special needs

          *          attention to detail – supplying appropriate information, checking on facilities and
                     providing extra services where needed. It is often the little things that visitors notice
                     when staying away from home. Providing drying rooms, cleaning facilities, safe
                     storage for walkers and cyclists and bike washes is important and is something all
                     businesses should aspire to


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          *          rationalisation – making decisions not to do things, stopping activities that the under-
                     performing or changing them into something different can be as important as
                     developing new activities and facilities. A bad experience will not encourage visitors to
                     return or recommend to others

          *          partnership – involving people and working together at all levels. Developing joint
                     projects and sharing the costs of promotion and marketing can be important to smaller
                     operators. Partnerships are also valuable mechanisms for sharing information and
                     making sure that area and regional wide strategic objectives are integrated into local
                     activities

          *          interdependence – quality rural tourism can support many other activities such as
                     agriculture, crafts, transport and local services. Developing local food supply chains to
                     hotels, pubs and shops and supporting farm diversification into tourism activities is an
                     important part of ‘joined-up thinking’

          *          time – improving quality takes time and we must set realistic targets which are
                     achievable. ‘Quick wins’ are essential for morale and maintaining momentum

          *          commitment – everyone must be committed and involved in order to be successful

          *          accurate communication – information distribution and communication between all
                     stakeholders at all levels is crucial. This should be bottom up as well as top down

          *          monitoring and evaluation of impacts on visitors, the environment, businesses and
                     the local community. Regular surveys and discussion will highlight problem areas
                     before it is too late and identify potential for further developments.

          Adopting and implementing IQM should become a continuous process within this Dee
          Valley initiative. The partners including The Dee Valley Business Action Group, the
          County Council, Cadwyn Clwyd, WDA and WTB can play a vital role in acting as leaders
          and enablers to ensure that the principles of IQM are embraced and adopted
          throughout the area. This will involve a series of actions, including:

          *          understanding visitor needs by undertaking regular visitor surveys and ensuring that
                     those needs are met

          *          setting standards for others to follow and ensuring that those standards are met

          *          working with people to identify training needs and deliver training courses which are
                     geared to efficient business development and enhancing the overall visitor experience

          *          disseminating market intelligence and other information as necessary to all involved in
                     tourism along the valley

          *          monitoring and evaluating the impact of tourism on the local environment and the
                     communities.

          The partners should agree to adopt these principles (if they have not already) and
          establish a series of protocols they will follow as the initiative evolves. The principles
          are fundamental to an effective development of the Dee Valley product.




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603       Who Leads? Who Is The Project Champion?

          This initiative has evolved out of the Dee Valley Business Action Group (Rural Business
          Action) with financial assistance from the Welsh Development Agency and Cadwyn Clwyd.
          At a working level it is coordinated by the Dee Valley Rural Business Action Coordinator.
          This person lives and works in the community and has practical first hand experience of how
          the visitor economy operates, its strengths, weaknesses and potential.

          Every successful project from running the London Olympic Bid 2012 to developing a new
          community facility needs a vision and a Project Champion. They require leadership,
          coordination and management and the implementation of this strategy is no different.

          It would be sensible to ‘raise the anti’, create a new name and give the initiative some status.
          We suggest (as a working title) The Dee Valley Visitor Economy Initiative. It needs a
          Director and significantly improved office accommodation. This person should be the Project
          Champion and driving force.

          The Dee Valley Business Action Group has been instrumental in getting this far. We are
          recommending that the project is about enhancing the overall visitor economy and we propose
          that there should be a Visitor Economy Task Force which is a sub-committee of the wider
          BAG and should take on the delivery of the strategy. It should invite other representatives of
          the visitor economy to become members. The proposed Interpretation Forum and Activity
          Holiday Group should be connected to this structure.

          The first step is for the partners including the Dee Valley Business Action Group, the County
          Council, Cadwyn Clwyd, WDA and WTB to accept and approve the strategy as the vision
          for the way forward. They also need to approve the establishment of the Visitor Economy
          Task Force and its membership. The Task Force should then, by means of a visioning day,
          review the strategy and produce a 3 year Action Plan. This must include short term ‘quick
          wins’ as well as longer term strategic initiatives. Target outputs and milestones need to be
          established.

          There is a need to achieve ‘buy in’ from the business community across the spectrum of the
          visitor economy. These businesses will need to ‘put their hands in their pockets’ and must be
          convinced as to the validity of the proposals. A ‘visitor economy’ conference needs to be held
          when the strategy is presented with ‘break out’ sessions to discuss specific aspects. The
          findings need to be reflected in the 3 year Action Plan.

          The local community should also have a say. There is value in producing a summary
          document which can be circulated as a consultation document to all businesses and
          everyone living in the valley and publicised in local newspapers. A small exhibition which
          can be displayed at ‘drop in’ sessions held in Llangollen, Corwen and some of the villages
          would be worthwhile. The views and opinions of local people and businesses are really
          important and must be taken into account in the proposed 3 year Action Plan.

          Advice needs to be taken on the most appropriate way to package the funding for the
          branding and marketing. We have suggested that £50,000 per annum is required initially
          including consultancy support but this may take a little time to generate.

          The Visitor Economy Task Force, through the Director who should be employed on a 5
          year contract, needs to publish the 3 year Action Plan and report back on a monthly basis to
          the Dee Valley Business Action Group identifying issues, problems and delays. They have a
          key role to play in establishing partnerships with a wide range of agencies and organisations
          who will be delivering specific aspects of the strategy. Everyone involved has to ‘buy into’ the
          strategy and ‘sing from the same hymn sheet’. There is a need for more dedicated people to
          volunteer to help deliver the vision at the end of the day. It is the job of the Director to ensure
          this happens.




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604       Need For Town Centre Management

          Many of the issues related to the economic well being of the two towns requires ‘hands on’
          working to identify issues and devise practical solutions by discussion and partnership. This is
          similar in many ways to problems in the countryside where tried and tested countryside
          management techniques have found practical solutions to managing recreational and
          ecological pressures on agriculture and forestry.

          If the Dee Valley Visitor Economy Initiative is to achieve things then the Director cannot put a
          lot of time into Town Centre Management. There is a case to appoint a Town Centre
          Manager who shares their time between Corwen and Llangollen with the objective of
          strengthening the visitor economy in both towns. Experience right across the UK has shown
          the benefits of Town Centre Management. The Association for Town Centre Management
          www.atcm.org has a wealth of experience to offer on the benefits and can provide job
          specifications etc.


605       Resources And Return On Marketing Investment

          The current structure of marketing for the Dee Valley will have difficulty delivering the short
          term action plan and is not capable of delivering the longer term vision.

          Destination marketing is highly competitive. Most destination brands and countywide tourism
          organisations in England are gearing themselves up as Destination Management
          Organisations with significant RDA funding to make a real impact in the market. The Dee
          Valley has the product and opportunity to compete but needs a step change in delivery to do
          so.

          The short term actions are costed at £30,000 core funding plus staff support. The long term
          actions are costed at £60,000 core funding plus staff support. The presence of a dedicated
          marketing resource is clearly required. In the short-term this could be done by out-sourcing the
          campaign management but in the long term would be more cost effective in-house. This
          effectively puts the long term revenue cost at around £100,000 per year.

          In addition, there are many product development and interpretive initiatives to be followed up.

          Ideally this requires a Dee Valley Visitor Economy Partnership of which marketing is a part,
          hosted by the County Council, with strong levels of business support. Or, it could be a Dee
          Valley Marketing Partnership with a wider remit for regeneration of which the visitor
          economy is part. Either way it needs dedicated staff and core funding to get things done.

          What returns could be expected?

          The current baseline is 980,000 visitors spending £42 million per year. The potential scale of
          gains are:

                                                                          2003     By 2010 growth    Annual
                                                                                         of          growth
                                                                                                    thereafter
            Day visitors                                                 815,000      +16,000          2%
            Staying visitors – serviced                                   73,000      +7,000           10%
            accommodation
            Staying visitors – self catering                             60,000        +3,000          5%
            accommodation
            Staying visitors with friends and                            32,000        +1,000          3%
            relatives
            Total                                                        980,000      +27,000          3%




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          Based on current volume and value data an overall growth of 3% per year from 2010 onwards
          could generate additional visitor spend of around £1.25 million per year. This suggests that
          between 15 – 40 new jobs per year will be created within the visitor economy. This is an initial
          assessment and we would recommend that the preparation of a cost benefit or
          economic impact analysis is desirable.

          Overall growth of £1.25 million per year gives a return on marketing investment of £12.50 for
          every £1 spent.


606       The Need For Monitoring And Evaluation

          It is important that we monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the wide range of initiatives
          proposed. Integrated Quality Management constantly refers to understanding the visitor and
          proposes regular visitor surveys. This is an essential pre-requisite but other issues also need
          to be assessed:

          *          ensuring that the 3 year Action Plan is delivered on time and on budget and
                     measuring whether the outputs, or targets, have been achieved eg. X FTE jobs

          *          measuring the benefits of the branding and marketing in terms of volume and value of
                     visitors

          *          monitoring visitor numbers to attractions and the benefits of joint working

          *          monitoring the effects of visitors on the footpath network and wildlife

          *          monitoring the economic performance of businesses across the visitor economy
                     including room occupancy.

          A number of evaluation techniques exist including:

          *          direct visitor feedback through visitors surveys, focus groups

          *          auditing by an expert (including mystery shopper)

          *          direct measure of visitor behaviour

          *          self-complete questionnaires

          *          establishing customer focus groups

          *          observation of features eg. erosion of paths.

          The pros and cons of the main types of evaluation techniques are included in Volume II :
          Appendix E.

          Monitoring and evaluation is increasingly required. Delivery of targets is expected and if not
          achieved can result in clawback of grants. In this case where we anticipate a mixture of public
          and private sector funding everyone involved needs to know the money has been spent wisely
          and has achieved expectations. Finally, within the concept of IQM the project aims to be
          much more customer and business focused and adopting professional practices is essential.


607       Maintenance And Management

          The overall success of the Dee Valley Visitor Economy Initiative as a destination is dependant
          on ensuring that the overall visitor experience is of the highest quality. If a visitor has a good
          experience then they will recommend the Dee Valley to their friends as a good place to visit :
          personal recommendation is the most powerful means of communication. If they have a bad

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          experience they will tell many more people and the Dee Valley will get a poor reputation.
          There are many factors which make up the overall visitor experience including:

          *          road signage

          *          sense of arrival and welcome

          *          quality of car parks and toilets

          *          quality and availability of visitor orientation and information services

          *          overall environmental quality of the area

          *          quality and diversity of the retail and catering and hours of opening

          *          customer care

          *          attention to detail.

          Each element is crucial to visitor perceptions. Only one has to be poor eg. the condition of the
          toilets, attitude of staff in a shop or pub, dirty towels in the bedrooms, rubbish bins overflowing
          etc and the image of the area is tarnished. Effective delivery of each component is crucial.
          The area will ultimately stand or fall on the quality of the visitor experience.


608       Conclusion

          In this section we have highlighted the need to put the right delivery mechanisms in place.
          Nothing meaningful can be achieved without partnership working. The role of the Director is
          crucial to drive the Dee Valley Visitor Economy Initiative.


609       Postscript

          We believe the report provides a realistic and objective assessment of the current situation
          from which a wide range of recommendations flow. The Dee Valley deserves a concerted
          approach to repositioning the visitor economy and will benefit enormously from a strategic
          approach based on Integrated Quality Management.

          We commend this Final Report to you.




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