European tourism conference hailed a success

The week long conference – hosted by Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority and Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council – saw leading tourism experts gather together  from the UK, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands and as far away as South Africa to develop new tourism strategies for managing local business clusters in the fields of creative arts, culture, outdoor activities, local food and hospitality providers.

As part of the conference, eighty staff and associated delegates from the partner regions visited tourism business in and around the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park and Merthyr Tydfil to share ideas and working experiences.  Guest speaker Matt Drew, Chief Executive of the Midlands Meander, shared the success story of how enterprises working together have created a rural destination that rivals the wine routes of the Cape in South Africa. 

Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council Leader Jeff Edwards informed attendees about the area’s unique history and its future plans regarding tourism and the involvement of the COLLABOR8 Project.  He stated “Each of the key partners bring experience of well developed tourism infrastructures within their respective regions; and it’s through the COLLABOR8 programme that we hope to develop our knowledge and understanding of this sector in Merthyr Tydfil, and in doing so, become an active partner in this initiative”.

Sustainable Tourism Manager for Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority, Richard Tyler said:  “With many European markets facing economic decline, the COLLABOR8 project will encourage tourism businesses in the Bannau Brycheiniog to work together more effectively.  We are already working with many local businesses and look forward to developing our work with them.  We are particularly pleased to be working so closely with Merthyr Tydfil Council.”

Bannau Brycheiniog Tourism is a sub- partner in COLLABOR8. Their Director General Punch Maughan said: “We are very pleased to be involved in this important new project as it expresses just how we want to work.  Bannau Brycheiniog Tourism is all about getting businesses working together.”

The COLLABOR8 Project is 50% funded by the ERDF Interreg IVB NWE Programme, and consists of nine different organisations from Ireland, Wales, England, Netherlands and Belgium.  It aims to actively involve the collaboration of society as a whole where shared goals aim to produce quality, sustainable products and services that promote local ‘sense of place’.  The idea is that each tourism cluster will be able to capitalise on the uniqueness of their regions to compete in the EU and global markets. 


Picture credits:  Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority and Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council

The partners involved in the COLLABOR8 project are: South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd. (IE) – (Lead Partner); DLG Government Service for Land and Water Management: Office of the National Project New Dutch Waterline Department (NL); Stichting Veemarktkwartier (NL); Flemish Land Agency (BE); Tourisme Meetjesland (BE), Westcountry Rivers Trust (UK); South Downs Joint Committee (UK); Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority (UK); and Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council (UK).  We all look forward to a sustained and mutually beneficial working relationship over the years to come and beyond this EU project funding period.