Port Talbot's vast steelworks is to form the unlikely backdrop to a new tourism campaign
The sprawling, dirty Tata steelworks at Port Talbot, whose smoking towers are visible from the M4, might not be everyone’s idea of a dream holiday destination.
Yet a new Neath Port Talbot council tourism campaign is to embrace their most iconic location rather than hide it away as it seeks to encourage people to visit.
The authority has won £81,000 grant from Visit Wales for a tourism campaign with which it aims to raise the profile of the county as a visitor destination.
As part of that, it’s “Tough as Steel Experience” will use the “the iconic steelworks as backdrop to experiencing invigorating outdoor activities, whilst also challenging perceptions of Port Talbot as a place to visit”.
Officers say: “The experience is likely to consist of surfing on Aberavon Beach, outdoor adventure at Margam Park such as stand up paddle boarding, go carting and cycling and also a high wire adventure ropes and zip wire course.
“This experience could also include the emerging markets from the Aberavon Aquathon and Steelman multisport events in the area.”
The authority will also be promoting other areas of the borough.
An In Their Footsteps Experience would enable visitors to walk or cycle the paths once trodden by their ancestors or by the county’s famous faces such as Richard Burton.
A valleys outdoor adventure experience would focus on the popular “waterfall country” and introduce potential activities like rock climbing, canyoning and orienteering.
Mountain bikers will be targeted to visit the Afan Forest Park with plans to offer bike hire, guided rides and tuition, while a beginner family mountain bike adventure tour would also be promoted for absolute beginners, with the potential for specialist female-only tuition and guiding.
Finally, a Margam Park heritage tour would involve a guided tour of the country park, Margam Abbey Church and Margam Stones Museum with afternoon tea or lunch within the park itself.
There is also work being undertaken on a wellbeing experience at the country park which could tap into the growing “mindfulness” market with yoga and meditation among possibilities.
In a report which went before councillors at a recent council meeting, officers said the six core experiences aligned with the Visit Wales Year of Discovery 2019 and Year of the Great Outdoors 2020.
They said there had already been interest from a range of operators and the exact experiences to be developed would be further refined in the coming months.
The council is adding £12,000 to help fund the campaign which aims to increase overnight stays within the area.
The campaign is due to run from October 2019 until December 2020.