We debated tourism yesterday and I was able to mention a number of initiatves in the Rhondda:
Leighton Andrews: My colleague, Lynne Neagle, mentioned that the Ryder Cup is coming to Wales in 2010. That year is also the centenary of the Tonypandy riots. I had not considered the slogan ‘from the Ryder to the riots’ before, but, who knows, it may catch on.
I wanted to mention two aspects of the Valleys’ appeal to tourists. One is the heritage industry and the other is outdoor pursuits. A series of initiatives is being developed. We have heard from other colleagues in the Valleys today, who have been working hard to promote initiatives in their areas, and many groups in the Rhondda are working to develop a series of historical initiatives. For example, there is the attempt by the Penrhys Partnership to develop the Cistercian links of St Mary’s well at Penrhys. Work is also being done to try to create a future life for the Powerhouse building, which was at the centre of the Tonypandy riots in 1910, and which might, in part, make a suitable home for a people’s history museum, although I am sure that there will be much competition in the field.There are also huge opportunities in the Valleys for a range of outdoor pursuits, from paragliding to cycling and walking. I commend the work of the Treherbert Communities First group, CwmNi, in developing an attractive brochure about the many different walking routes in upper Rhondda Fawr. I am pleased to see that those groups concerned with promoting tourism in the Valleys are working hard at promoting those opportunities, particularly for walking, and are doing so on the internet. They shared some of that information with me during tourism awareness week some weeks ago. Indeed, I suspect that many of us got a similar briefing from organisations that saw us then on the need to increase the number of overnight stays in Wales, and the number of people who visit attractions and then stay on to spend money. Clearly, the longer they stay, the more money they spend.
We need to increase the range of accommodation available in the Valleys. I was pleased to see the additional investment in the Heritage Park Hotel in the Rhondda and the upgrading of its rooms. However, we also need bed-and-breakfast accommodation. I suggest that the Minister considers a grant regime that starts at a lower level of grant, perhaps a £2,000 to £5,000 bracket, rather than a £10,000 bracket, which would lead people to consider using their own homes to provide bed-and-breakfast accommodation.
I will make one suggestion to the Minister about the Visit Wales website. Much can be done to make that site more interactive and to show more readily the range of tourism opportunities in Wales and to bring them to life on that website. I hope that work will be done to develop that.
I will therefore conclude by saying that there are huge opportunities for promoting tourism in the Valleys and I hope that, in the next Assembly, we can take that work forward.