The Minister toured Pembrokeshire to meet the owners of Bluestone National Park Resort and The Grove Hot el at Narbeth to hear about their expansion plans in order to meet visitor demand.
Bluestone employs 450 staff – 99 per cent of which come from Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion – whilst The Grove has a team of twenty eight local people based at the hotel. The Minister saw the 60 new lodges built at Bluestone last year by a Swansea company and discussed with company CEO, William McNamara, key issues such as working with l ocal suppliers and future expansion plans.
Over 44 per cent of guests to the resort during 2011 said they had not been to Pembrokeshire before. Last year it reported a 27 per cent increase in guest numbers compared to 2010, with 65,393 people staying at the resort - the majority of which will also visit local attractions and eat and drink outside the Park.
CEO William McNamara said;
"Our growth in 2011 demonstrates how a Welsh business can grow and succeed in the current economic climate and through our nationwide marketing efforts we’re also promoting Pembrokeshire and West Wales as an overall visitor destination.
"Being a sustainable business supporting and working with local businesses and communities is very important to us and forms an integral part of our business model."
The Minister also visited the resort’s biofuel centre which uses crops grown locally to heat its Blue Lagoon waterpark and indoor Adventure Centre and solar technology used to heat water within some of the lodges before heading off to The Grove Hotel in Narberth to see their plans for expansion supported in part by the Welsh Government.
Owner Neil Kedward said;
"The eight new bedrooms, much needed kitchen and new front of house, restaurant, lounge and bar facilities on the ground floor will create hospitality jobs of the highest quality including management roles. The constraints inherent within the current financi al climate mean that the funding we received is vital to a young, growing business like ours which is hungry for capital expenditure to realize its vision."
The Minister also met with the Sunderland Trust Flying Boat Centre to discuss visitor numbers over the last year and plans to create a heritage centre telling the story of Pembroke Dock.
Business Minister Edwina Hart said;
"It’s been heartening today to see business grow and prosper in the current climate – by part funding these expansions we as Welsh Government are able to bring banks on board to also support the plans. As a result we are creating jobs for local people and bringing some of the £9 million a day that tourists spend in Wales to Pembrokeshire."