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Tourism project is a success despite Covid-19 interruptions

By Charlotte Bentley | Oswestry | Attractions | Published:

A town granted nearly £50,000 for a tourism project has looked back on its successes as the project nears its end.

In Picture L>R: Katrina Collins and Sarah Gilder.

Arwain awarded Montgomery Town Council £49,000 back in 2016 for the Destination Montgomery project which aimed to enhance the town as a tourist spot, where people can visit and stay.

The project was due to finish this spring, but due to the outbreak of Covid-19 and subsequent lockdown affecting what can be done over the summer, the deadline has been extended into the autumn.

As well as giving time to finalise some plans, and to look at securing ongoing funding to build on what has been achieved so far, this will enable the team to do what they can to ensure Montgomery is ready to welcome back visitors when it is safe to do so.

Mike Mills, chair of Destination Montgomery, and the team of local people who took part have worked hard on numerous projects and said despite complications brought about by Coronavirus, they feel the project has been successful.

"The project has been extended so we can finish a few things off," he said. "It has been really good to have a team of multi-talented people, where we have worked together to complete this, with the assistance of the town council.

"We have managed to establish a series of walking and cycling trails that will be there for a long time and will be sustainable for the future. Anecdotally, far more walkers and cyclists have been using it recently, especially before lockdown. We also saw more footfall from visitors which was really good.

"The original aims were to promote Montgomery as a destination to visit and stay and shop. Also to encourage the usage of the town hall, as we have undertaken a major refurbishment of our town hall and looked to use it for wedding venues."

Destination Montgomery - a steering group that was set up after Arwain awarded Montgomery Town Council £49,000 for the project. Its aims were to increase Montgomery as a tourist destination and increase its sustainability. Montgomery Town Hall

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As well as creating walking trails, a geocache activity, working with local groups and promoting the town market, the group have also worked with Welsh Tourism.

Sarah Gilder, the development officer for the project, said they had plans with Welsh Tourism and other groups that were put on hold due to lockdown.

However, she said: "Despite Covid-19 putting a stop to many of our plans, I do think the aims have been met and we are hoping to get some more funding to allow it to carry on.

"We received the grant from Arwain in 2016 but the project didn't really start until 2017 when the first development officer was appointed. I took over after 18 months.

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"One of the big things that was established was the news and media team, which Claire Weston, heads up – liaising with local media and getting our community stories out there. So everyone in the town knows what's going on locally. It has been really successful.

"We have also set up Taste Montgomery with local food producers and some local accommodation. They now have a stall on the market."

They hope to secure more funding to carry on the project in the future.

Charlotte Bentley

By Charlotte Bentley
Community Reporter - @CharlotteB_Star

Community Reporter at the Shropshire Star, helping under-represented communities to find a voice in Shropshire and Mid Wales. Contact me at charlotte.bentley@shropshirestar.co.uk.

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