As the tourism industry in Wales celebrates Wales Tourism Week (May 11 – 19), the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) celebrates the success of one of its own graduates in this exciting and highly valuable sector.
Having purchased a farm in the village of Llangynin on the outskirts of St Clears, Elizabeth was captivated by one of its majestic yet crumbling outbuilding and quickly started thinking of ideas for its potential use. Instead of taking the easy option of renovating the building and turning it into a home Elizabeth realised that it provided her with something more – it offered her a significant business opportunity.
“When we started thinking about developing Llety Cynin, we were doing a lot of research and I noticed that a Masters course was being taught at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David in Carmarthen,” says Elizabeth. “I was lucky enough to be accepted and in doing the course, it gave me the confidence I needed to move my idea forward and to go ahead and actually open the business,” she adds.
Dr Louise Emanuel was one of Elizabeth’s lecturers during her time at UWTSD and remembers her first meeting with Elizabeth when she presented her plans for the outbuilding.
“A few years ago, Elizabeth came into the University with a set of plans and said she wanted to diversify,” says Louise, a senior lecturer at UWTSD’s Carmarthen Business School. “She had some outbuildings that she wanted to develop but needed some support. We discussed what would be best for her and suggested that she studied a Masters degree with us and through that, we could help her develop the skills and knowledge that she needed to develop Llety Cynin.”
Elizabeth soon turned those ideas into a reality and today, she – along with her daughter, Gwawr – run the resort and are continuously thinking of new ideas and ways of developing the business even further. Having recently extended the main property, Llety Cynin is now boasts even more hotel rooms, a new function suite to cater for weddings as well as a new restaurant and bar.
“Doing the Masters degree made me look at all the opportunities that were available and because I was studying with a group of people, it gave me a chance to test the water and to discuss our plans with other students – to find out what they thought about them and to hear from those with different perspectives,” adds Elizabeth.
Elizabeth’s thriving business in the heart of rural Carmarthenshire is an inspirational tale for all rural entrepreneurs. With a focus on sustainable business practice, UWTSD’s Carmarthen Business School’s progressive and transformational approach develops independent and self-determined graduates who are equipped to succeed in a challenging environment. And this is certainly evident in Elizabeth’s tale.
Roger Maidment, Dean of UWTSD’s Faculty of Business and Management is extremely proud of the University’s success in engaging with the local community and the way in which it helps develop and sustain the local economy.
“Our University has to be measured on impact and most importantly, measured on the impact on the local economy and local region – and when it works well, it provides a seamless and iterative engagement between the educational programmes, student achievement and the impact on local businesses,” says Roger Maidment. “Therefore Llety Cynin is really important and is one example of the way in which an entrepreneur wanting to diversify their business engaged with the University, enrolled on one of the courses and used the work they wanted to do in a way that meant they were supported and assisted by the University.”
And although Elizabeth graduated from UWTSD several years ago there is also potential for her relationship to continue with the University as she looks to tackle one of the business’ main challenges – the recruitment and retention of staff.
“With regard to working and developing a business in a rural economy, there are many challenges and one of those key challenges is staffing,” says Andrew Campbell, Senior Academic Lead at UWTSD’s Faculty of Business and Management.
“But at UWTSD, we’re able offer opportunities for those working within the Tourism industry and to offer support for businesses such as Llety Cynin to help develop staff and to help upskill employees – and through the programmes that we offer, help to move businesses forward. The relationship between the University and rural businesses is extremely important because we are a rural University and need to be sensitive to the needs of rural operators,” adds Andrew Campbell, who’s also a leading authority on Tourism and Chair of the Wales Tourism Alliance.