- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
Assembly Member Joyce Watson accompanied Powys County Councillor David Thomas on a recent visit to the National Showcaves Centre, near Abercrave.
The Labour member for Mid and West Wales met Dan-Yr-Ogof caves boss Ashford Price to discuss sustainable tourism and the impact of the wet summer on visitor numbers to Wales.
Mrs Watson said: “After speaking to businesses last summer I produced a report for the Welsh Government, Small Businesses, Big Impact. This visit is about updating that work and taking businesses’ views back to the Assembly.
“The weather we have had, especially the early summer months, has really brought home the need to weather proof Welsh tourism. Dan-Yr-Ogof is a great example of this. It offers visitors an indoor and outdoor experience and is in a beautiful area, renowned for walking and outdoor pursuits, that people can enjoy whatever the weather.”
Mrs Watson and Cllr Thomas (Tawe Uchaf ) also learned how the visitors’ attraction is now a self-sufficient zero carbon venue.
In April, the complex switched on a £300,000 hydro-electric generator. The installation produces 65KW of energy – all the electricity needed by Dan Yr Ogof Caves. Surplus electricity will be sold back to the National Grid. The hydro-electric project, which took 12 months to complete, has been finished in time for the showcaves’ centenary year. The complex also harnesses wind and solar energy.
Cllr Thomas added: “Dan-Yr-Ogof is not only a major visitors’ attraction, it is also a major employer. It supports 62 local jobs and all the board members are from the surrounding area. It’s a great example of economic and environmental sustainability going hand in hand.”
Mrs Watson is a member of the Assembly’s Enterprise and Business committee. Last summer she toured businesses across the region and signed up for the ‘business buddy’ scheme organised by the Forum for Private Business, meeting over 30 individual traders, businesses, groups and trade boards across mid and west Wales and surveyed more than 50 businesses.