Lynne Richards tells Sydney Paulden of the advantages it brings to event organisersTake huge stretches of beautiful landscape, a world-renowned hotel and golf resort and top-level experience in hosting international political and military leaders; mix in an array of state-of-the-art sports facilities; put them all together. What have you got?
The answer is South East Wales.
First announced at The Meetings Show in London, this is a newly formed promotional entity funded by a grant from Capital Region Tourism, which promotes the wider Welsh region around Cardiff.
The new body of South East Wales encompasses Newport, Monmouthshire and Torfaen and it has a valiant, very coherent spokesperson to make its case on the MICE markets. She is Lynne Richards, Tourism Officer of Newport City Council, who spoke to Sydney Paulden of ITCM Website at the Show.
‘The South East Wales region is very compact, easily accessible from all parts of the UK, Europe and elsewhere’, says Lynne. ‘It is small in area but very rich in facilities that are exactly tuned in to organisers of all kinds of events. We are ideal for large conferences, highly confidential gatherings, team-building activities, sporting events, cultural incentives and health-focussed gatherings.’
To back up these claims, Lynne gives examples of a remarkable array of facilities and features that South East Wales has to offer – and all within easy reach of each other.
No mention of Newport can be complete without bringing in the world-renowned Celtic Manor Resort. This was recently the venue for the 2010 Ryder Cup, hosting some of the world’s finest golfers on one of its three courses. I now has been granted planning permission to create the 20,000sqm Wales International Convention Centre. To be opened in 2018, it will boast a 1,300-seat auditorium, an exhibition hall of 4,000sqm and 15 additional function rooms.
Celtic Manor is shortly to host the NATO Summit in September 2014 and already has under its belt the experience of hosting a European Foreign Ministers Summit.
Lynne turns her attention to sporting events. ‘My region’, she goes on, ‘has hosted the Paralympics and the British On Road Cycling Championships and last year Michel Platini, the UEFA President, came over to open Dragon Park. This is our new £5m football training centre for the Welsh FA near Newport.
‘We are’, she adds, ‘also a region where hi-tech events will find a suitable partner. Newport is home to BAE’s facilities for design and production of very advanced defence and aviation systems. And we mustn’t overlook, either, the advanced expertise in cardiology at Royal Gwent Hospital.
‘Event managers of every kind can find in South East Wales the finest facilities in a particularly calm and secluded region. This is the message we are now bringing to the MICE sector’.