'City must follow Swansea's example'
SWANSEA needs to emulate its football club's success and build on the Premier League feelgood factor.
That is the view of one tourism expert, following a report which suggests the club's presence in the most popular league has been worth more than £58 million to the local economy.
The figure was contained in a report from professor Max Munday, from Cardiff Business School, which suggested not only had the Swans' promotion to the Premier League generated that figure for the Welsh economy, but it had also created or protected around 400 jobs, 340 in Swansea.
Those figures trounce estimates made in 2011, with a figure of £30 million being bandied around at that time — the boost Blackpool enjoyed following promotion.
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Terry Stevens, tourism analyst from Loughor-based Stevens & Associates, said he was cautiously pleased about the new numbers but emphasised that it was time for the city to match the players' success.
Mr Stevens said: "We are exactly in line with what the expectations were, according to the Max Munday report.
"What needs to be looked at now is how Swansea can capitalise on that success even further."
The £58 million figure is estimated to be the result of the Premier League knock-on effects generated among shops, hotels and other businesses in the region.
And one idea already mooted, supported by Mr Stevens, is an expanded Liberty Stadium to get more fans' bums on seats.
Currently the stadium has a 20,750 capacity, with plans to boost that up to 32,000.
More ambitious thinking is called for too, he suggests.
He said: "More could be done to offer packages and to recognise the number of high-end visitors the Premier League status brings in.
"For instance, there are people who would fly in by helicopter to see the match. There are people who would come by limousine.
"That end of the market could be capitalised upon to consolidate the success the city has seen already.
"In terms of packages we could say to visitors 'you have come to Swansea to see the game, how about returning for a holiday?'
"How about trying abseiling while you are here?"
In speaking to local businesses, Mr Stevens said he has heard encouraging reports of a material boost in trade, particularly from shoppers from abroad.
"Retailers are reporting an increase in Asian shoppers buying branded, high end goods — probably students at the university.
"So there is more of an awareness about Swansea overseas now."
And while the idea of the Cardiff City finding a space in the big league alongside their Swansea rivals might rankle some Swans supporters, that result could only mean further good news for the region, he added.
"I support Yeovil Town so it wouldn't bother me, but with Cardiff looking so strong and Swansea looking quite secure in the Premier League that can only mean very good news for South Wales as a whole."
Liberty is a fitting home — page 12
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