Neath Port Talbot
- Funding amount:
The concept for the Cognation Bike Give Sustain project in the Afan Forest Park evolved from the recommendations of the Cognation Visitor Giving Business Plan, which was produced after a successful pilot study to develop additional mountain bikes trails across South Wales under one banner was undertaken in 2010.
The pilot identified the need for a ‘visitor giving’ scheme, using donation boxes at various strategic locations in the Afan Valley, ensuring legacy of financial contribution towards the future maintenance and sustainability of the mountain bike trails in Afan Forest Park. The project worked with partners, stakeholders and volunteers ensuring that the Cognation brand continued to be used positively to promote the trails.
What will the project achieve?
The purpose of the Cognation Bike Give Sustain project was to generate income through a visitor giving scheme to maintain the mountain bike trails in Afan Forest Park, which would help to ensure their continued use and sustain the contribution that mountain biking visitors make to the local economy.
In order to achieve this objective, the project:
- Aimed to engage a host of local businesses and facilities and to have branded donation boxes located in their sites enabling bikers to make voluntary contributions towards the maintenance of trials. Additionally, to work with businesses and establish a visitor giving scheme in partnership with accommodation providers by using an ‘opt out system’ whereby visitors are charged an additional donation amount at the point of booking, which they can choose not to pay.
- Aimed to market Afan Forest Park as a premier destination for mountain biking.
- Worked with local businesses and stakeholders in the area to ensure that they were able to take advantage of cooperative Cognation merchandising and marketing opportunities to the mountain biking community.In terms of long-term sustainability, the project aimed to establish a new trail maintenance volunteer group, a dedicated taskforce of enthusiasts and stakeholders committed to maintaining the trails for long term use and to provide training opportunities for these volunteers to learn new skills, enabling them to have a better understanding of sustainable maintenance and promote responsible usage of the trail environment.
The project Delivered:
- A visitor giving scheme and engaged with 9 businesses/facilities to host branded donation boxes.
- Engaged with 30 stakeholders including businesses to maximise marketing opportunities afforded through the adoption of the Cognation branding (Afan Valley Mountain Bike Stakeholders Group, Afan Forest Park Stakeholder Group, MbWales South Wales Cluster Group).
- Established the Afan Trail Volunteers Group with 18 volunteers signed up to participate in training and maintenance days on the trails.
- Established a partnership of key stakeholders: Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Afan Trail Volunteers Group (ATVG) and Neath Port Talbot Council.
- Legacy with the Afan Trail Volunteer Group committed to maintain trails.
And, contributed towards the following National Strategies:
- Prosperity for All: the national strategy Taking Wales Forward
- The Welsh Government Strategy for Tourism 2013 – 2020, Partnership for Growth
- Shared Purpose: Shared Future (Statutory guidance on the Well-being of Future Generations Wales Act 2015)
Who are the project beneficiaries?
Local communities, local businesses, sponsors, mountain bike and tourism partners.
What was the result of your project?
The Project’s performance was mixed, but the creation of the Afan Trail Volunteers Group the long term sustainability of the trails looks to be in safe hands. Participation in relevant training and regular maintenance days has allowed this volunteer group to thrive, enabling not only membership to grow but the confidence of the volunteers themselves to play an active part inthe fu ture delivery and maintenance of mountain biking activities and trails in the area.
What were the challenges?
From the information the RDP Team has gathered, it appears that the donation boxes earned just over £3k during the lifetime of the project.
However, information regarding the success of the ‘opt out’ payment scheme in terms of money raised at the point of booking accommodation in the area by mountain trail users/visitors, is unfortunately unknown.
Engagement and data capturing mountain bikers themselves was difficult which unfortunately meant that evidencing participation with young people, women and Welsh speakers was not as successful as had been originally hoped.
What’s next for the project?
The establishment of the Afan Trail Volunteers. The group is taking an active approach in promoting outdoor activity and is a key member of the Afan Valley Mountain Bike Stakeholders Group.
Regular training and maintenance days continue on the trails.