The Development Bank of Wales is a long-term investor in Wales’ tourism sector. In the last financial year alone, we supported 14 major projects with £7.79 million from the Wales Tourism Investment Fund, which is here to support stand-out projects that add value to our rural and local economies.
As a sustainable investor, we’re taking an ever-wider view of the businesses we support and the long-term impact they can have on the communities and areas around them.
In recent years, the global community has witnessed a growing concern for sustainable development and environmental protection. One of the key sectors under scrutiny is tourism, because of the significant impact it can have on ecosystems, cultures, and economies.
With a growing global profile and world-beating attractions – ranging from areas of stunning natural beauty to white-knuckle thrills that will test even the hardiest adventurer – Wales is a fantastic place to visit and stay. We’ve got historic castles, gorgeous coastal views, sprawling mountains, peaceful towns and villages and bustling cities.
As well as having an important international role, in many parts of Wales, tourism also plays an important part supporting local communities.
At the Development Bank, we want to make sure sustainable tourism is a commercially sound route for businesses to take, reducing the impact they can have on their surrounding environment. Sustainable tourism balances the economic, environmental and social impacts of the sector, while meeting both the needs of visitors and the communities they visit. Organisations like the Development Bank have a crucial role to play in promoting sustainable tourism by providing support and investment to businesses that already focus on eco-friendly initiatives and community development and encouraging responsible practices within the industry.
Bargoed Farm – one of our longstanding customers– is a great example of how we can support businesses as they look to improve their energy efficiency and carbon-saving measures.
As well as being a working farm, they now run a camping and caravan site, a large children’s play barn and events venue.
And they’ve powered the new additions to the farm with new solar panels, electric vehicle charging points and biofuel generators, as well as investing in new electric vehicles and a baling machine to compress recyclable waste.
We also supported Gower Electric Bikes, who lend easy-to-use e-bikes to help visitors explore the stunning natural beauty of the Gower Peninsula, along with Swansea, Mumbles and Clyne Woods.
They also aim to use 100% renewable energy to charge their bikes, using local solar panels and green energy suppliers.
By providing investment, and supporting those businesses which align with sustainable principles, we can help ventures such as these to thrive. This not only reduces environmental and social risks but also incentivises companies to adopt more sustainable practices to secure funding.
These aren’t just goals across the sector – they’re also the values which more and more visitors and customers are starting to prize, particularly as eco-conscious consumers look to cut their carbon footprint by staying at home rather than flying abroad.
Sustainable tourism represents a critical pathway towards a greener and more responsible future for all of us – not just the travel industry, but those communities and areas of Wales which it supports. We have a unique opportunity to shape this transformation positively. By providing financial resources and advocating for sustainable policies, we can drive change within the tourism sector in Wales and inspire more businesses to adopt eco-conscious practices.
We have a key role to play in creating a tourism industry that not only gives visitors an experience that keeps them coming back for more, but also protects and enriches our natural and cultural heritage for generations to come.