Nine tourism projects have secured over £3million from the Development Bank of Wales in the first half of 2023/24 from the dedicated Wales Tourism Investment Fund as demand for funding gains momentum post Covid-19.
Since its launch in 2020, the Wales Tourism Investment Fund has supported 17 different companies with £15.3 million made up of £13.81 million in loans and £1.1 million grant funding from Visit Wales. Co-investment is £6.7 million.
Launched specifically to support stand-out tourism projects that add value to the rural and local economies of Wales, the Wales Tourism Investment Fund offers loans between £100,000 and £5 million with up to 15 years payback terms.
Dawn Bowden, Deputy Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism said: “Tourism is an economic, social and cultural asset which is why we want to grow tourism for the good of Wales. This means creating a first-class holiday experience that delivers real benefits for people and places with attractions and accommodation that meet the needs of visitors and locals alike.
“I’m delighted that the collaborative approach by the Development Bank of Wales and Visit Wales is enabling more tourism businesses to get the funding that they need to invest in new and existing projects that are helping to put Wales on the map.”
Those who have benefitted to date include Penderyn Distillery and Tenby Golf Club along with Innoflate, Wales’s first intergenerational park that has opened at Newport Retail Park on Seven Stiles Avenue in Newport. 27 FTE jobs have been created and 100,000 visitors a year are expected following a loan of £350,000 from the Development Bank alongside an £80,000 grant from Visit Wales.
John McGee is Chair of Innoflate. He said: “With six sites in Scotland, we’re excited to be entering the Welsh marketplace with the next generation in inflatables. We’re working with the community, schools, charities and local authorities to create a destination with facilities that nurture physical and mental well-being.
“The joined-up approach between Welsh Government and the Development Bank has made the investment in Wales an attractive proposition, part-funding our set-up costs so that we could get up and running.”
With five young children, outdoor lovers Chloe and Neal Priestley are living their dream having opened Grassroots Caravan and Glamping in rural Waterston near Milford Haven. The 4.2 acre site has been purchased with a £205,000 loan from the Development Bank. A mix of hard-standing and grass pitches are available with on-site facilities.
Chloe and Neal Prisetley said: “We’re keen travellers and love to explore the world but have realised over the years how beautiful our home county is and what is has to offer. It was a long eight months of solid graft to get our dream across the line but with the help of the Development Bank, we have finally done it. Our mission for this campsite is to make sure that visitors of all ages have an affordable stay with us and enjoy our surrounding countryside.”
Other projects to benefit from funding include the soon to open Dylan’s restaurant in Conwy with a loan of £308,000 and a grant of £77,000, creating a restaurant and bar area on High Street with seating for 150 guests. The new site is in addition to three existing restaurants in Menai Bridge, Criccieth and Llandundo and retail outlets in Conwy and Menai Bridge.
Directors Robin Hodgson and David Evans are proud to have been named as the Welsh Food and Drink Champions at the Wales Food and Drink Awards 2023. David said: “North Wales is a global tourist destination and we’ve got a vibrant high street here in Conwy. As the Welsh Food and Drink Champions for 2023, we’re delighted to be the custodians of this wonderful building and to safeguard it for many years to come, selling local produce and hosting events for locals and visitors alike to enjoy.
“The funding from the Development Bank means that we’ve now been able to open our fourth restaurant and continue our mission of celebrating the local produce, character and natural beauty of North Wales.”
Named by the Independent as ‘one of the coolest new UK hotels’, the Elan Valley Hotel in Rhayader has undergone a refurbishment funded by a loan of £200,000 from the Development Bank. Married couple, Lyn and Rachel Morgan bought the hotel via their existing business, Lyn Morgan Furnishings. They’ve now renovated the bedrooms, creating a 60-seat restaurant, added solar panels and integrated Lyn Morgan Furnishings bespoke sofas and chairs.
Director Lyn Morgan said: “The Elan Valley is a must visit destination and we’re in the perfect location to access all the many attractions in this area of outstanding beauty. The funding from the Development Bank means that we’ve been able to complete the refurbishment and breathe new life into this beautiful hotel, attracting more visitors to our local area.”
Clare Sullivan is a Regional Manager with the Development Bank. She said: “The tourism sector is getting back on track post Covid and we’re definitely on an upwards trajectory with this bespoke fund able to meet demand from the sector. Our ability to also offer grants alongside loans means that more businesses can benefit and we’re supporting the transition of the tourism sector from grant reliance to a commercial basis.
“The flexibility of the fund means that we can support specific projects that will benefit our local and rural economies by mobilising public money where it can make a real difference and add to the tourism facilities that Wales has to offer. This means that strategic investments like Penderyn Distillery can access a funding package that enables them to make a significant contribution to Wales’s reputation as a vibrant and must-visit destination while smaller projects like the development of Tenby Golf Club have a real benefit for local and rural economies. It’s all about adding value and doing what we can to put Wales on the global tourism map. The message is simple - if you want to invest in the tourism sector in Wales then come and talk to us.”
The £50 million Wales Tourism Investment Fund is financed entirely by Welsh Government. Loans between £100,000 and £5 million are available with repayment terms of 10 – 15 years for distinctive, stand-out tourism projects that align with the priorities of Welsh Government, demonstrating commitment to the Economic Contract.