Tourism brings big cash boost to area
Record amounts of cash are pouring into Neath and Port Talbot, thanks to soaring visitor numbers and improved facilities.
Figures just released by the council shows tourists ploughed over £68 million into the area's economy last year.
It is a huge rise since 2001, when £49.5 million was brought into the county.
Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council Derek Vaughan said: "These figures are very positive and confirm the growing importance of tourism in the area."
The tourism industry now provides over 1,000 jobs in Neath Port Talbot. The number of visitors staying in hotels and bed and breakfasts went up by 13 per cent in 2006.
"In the past five years tourism in Neath Port Talbot has been on the increase," said Councillor Vaughan.
"With improvements to Aberavon seafront, Afan Forest Park and the Vale of Neath, the future of tourism in Neath Port Talbot looks even more promising."
Paul Peet set up Afan Valley Bike Hire near Glyncorrwg in 2003.
He has seen the business boom along with Neath Port Talbot's tourism trade.
As well as hiring out mountain bikes to tourists using the world-renowned trails in the Afan Valley, he provides training for youth leaders and guides.
"Trade has improved dramatically," said Mr Peet. "I've gone from running the business on my own to employing four to five part-time staff.
"We are busy all the year around.
"Last week I had people hiring bikes from us who were from Holland and Norway.
"The only time we are not busy is the last few weeks of January and first few weeks of February."
Mr Peet believes his success is mainly due to the mountain bike trails in the Afan Valley which have been rated among the best in the world.
"More and more people are definitely coming to the area.
"Because the trails are man-made they drain well and mountain-bikers use them whatever the weather."
South Wales Evening Post