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Key venues continue their bounceback from the pandemic

Plantasia Zoo is one of the venues that recovered from the pandemic.

VISITORS continue to flock to major leisure and destination venues supported by Swansea Council as staff there continue their bounceback from the pandemic.

Freedom Leisure, Wales National Pool Swansea (WNPS), Plantasia and the National Waterfront Museum are all enjoying healthy levels of custom.

Visitor numbers at the city centre LC and Freedom’s other community leisure facilities in the 2022-23 financial year were up almost 30% to more than 1.8m on the previous year. Income rose almost 36% to around £8m.

WNPS increased its income by more than £300,000 to around £1.3m.

Plantasia, run by Parkwood Leisure, saw attendance figures up from around 98,000 in 2022 to more than 117,000, with revenue up more than £200,000 to almost £950,000.

At the free-entry waterfront museum, in-person and online visitor figures were up around 10 per cent to almost 277,000.

And while all the venues face challenges ahead, particularly with high energy bills and the need to continue to build visitor numbers, Robert Francis-Davies, cabinet member for investment, regeneration, events and tourism, said their continuing success was vital.

On 18 April, the cabinet considered its Leisure Partnerships Annual Report, looking at 2022-23 visitor numbers and financial performance of organisations in the city to which the council provides support in a range of ways.

Cllr Francis-Davies said, “We continue to be there for our leisure services partners during the ongoing cost-of-living crisis because they play a critical part in the life of our city and our local communities.

“Through 2022-23, for example, Freedom Leisure’s numbers of gym members, Learn to Swim students, group exercise participants and Free Swimming Initiative attendees were all up.

“WNPS hosted 27 event days, including 15 Swim Wales events, three Welsh Lifesaving Still Water Championships and a number of local club events.

“At Plantasia last year, staff ran free educational tours for over 50s, employed two full time zoology students from Swansea University and launched the world’s biggest escape game.

“2022/23 highlights for the waterfront museum included the creation or hosting of 10 temporary exhibitions, more than 100 events and he engagement of more than 9,300 students in the museum’s formal learning activities on-site.

“These are achievements that go above and beyond. Our communities would be poorer places were it not for our leisure partners and their commitment to the health, wellbeing and enjoyment they offer residents and visitors to the city.”

The report to cabinet focussed on the 2022-23 period and highlights how leisure organisations, like others across Wales and the UK, were emerging from the pandemic, assessing their challenges and opportunities for the years ahead.

Through separate and differently-arranged partnership agreements, Swansea Council also provides key facilities through partnership arrangements at Swansea Tennis Centre and Swansea Bowls Stadium.

Attendance figures at Swansea Tennis Centre were up around nine per cent in 2022-23 to more than 63,000.

2022-23 saw tennis centre staff visit 20 schools delivering taster sessions to 2,500 children aged four to 10. Performance players continue to represent Swansea and Wales across the UK and European tours – and, on occasions, male and female players of all ages from the centre and programmes were ranked number one in the UK for their age group.

Attendance figures at Swansea Bowls Stadium were up around 17 per cent to more than 44,000. 2022-23 saw the stadium’s over 60s championship team win the Welsh National over 60s title.