Rhys Powell and Louis Ross were on a mission. The duo from Barry, in the Vale of Glamorgan in Wales, wanted to put the town back on the map for its residents and increase tourism.
Rhys Powell and Louis Ross were on a mission. The duo from Barry, in the Vale of Glamorgan in Wales, wanted to put the town back on the map for its residents and increase tourism. At the core is a social media campaign as well as a new website with the hope to bring the world to Barry, known in the UK and internationally as the backdrop for the BBC programme Gavin and Stacey.
Kettle spoke to Ross about the campaign and what it hopes to bring for Barry. Below is that conversation:
How crucial has social media been to getting Barrybados going?
Social media has been crucial. We already had the Facebook/Twitter and Instagram pages before we even launched. The idea was in our heads months before actually attempted anything. We had to make sure we had these accounts ready for the launch. We’ve increased our followers rapidly.
Our Twitter account has become a place first for news in Barry and we aim to keep it that, so our followers trust what we are doing. In the coming months, we’re looking to expand into new areas of social media, it’s such a crucial part of what we’re trying to do, and people use it more and more every day.
What was the idea behind the launch of Barrybados? What had been your perception of Barry prior to setting this up?
The idea of Barrybados started off a bit crazy. Residents have called it Barrybados for years—we have a Barrybados flag that we take to football matches. One day we said ‘why don’t we put our flag on a mug.’ after realising this wasn’t going to work, we drove round Barrybados looking at the landmarks. We drove past the road sign by the Island, Both looked at each having the same idea, and the rest is history.
Before we started ‘Barrybados’ we both loved the town we lived, both disgruntled by the fact that we had lost so much and gained so little. We’re not trying to rename the town, but we’re both trying just to change perception, having fun and embracing what we have.
With the relaunch of the web site and the added social media work, what image do you hope to give of Barry to the rest of Wales, the UK and indeed the rest of the world?
We hope to create a better view of Barry, not just for residents but for tourists too. Over the past 20 or so years, Barry has lost nearly everything: Butlins, the bars swimming pool, the cinema and the fun fair is all but gone. People say that Barry isn’t what is use to be, but we view Barry still as a great town, we are blessed by beautiful scenery, and we appreciate what we have.
The relaunch of the website aims to be a full tourism website for Barry, as well as a shop for us. We hope that by marketing ‘Barrybados’ people might take a different view.
The image of Barry that many people, particularly internationally, have comes from the show Gavin and Stacey – what do you want to add to that image with the campaign?
Gavin and Stacey was great for the town. But the town has a lot more to offer. It helped put Barry back on the map since losing Butlins. But since it ended in 2010, there has been a lull and maybe Barry has lost popularity. We can’t rely on a TV show that ended 4 years ago to boost tourism.
The next iconic feature needs to be created, something for the next generation to look back and remember on. Hopefullly, plans are in place. There’s a lot of people in the town attempting great things. GlastonBARRY was one of the best events to happen in the town for years. Imagine GlastonBARRY on a bigger scale, like when Radio 1 use to come to town back in the 90s. It can happen.
What changes do you hope to see of Barry as Barrybados becomes known? Do you think you can engage tourists and visitors to Barry instead of other parts of Wales?
Hopefully we can create more awareness of the town. Once the website relaunches, we have big plans of ‘showing off’ what this town can offer. It’s constantly going to be a work in progress. The Island gets a lot of visitors per year, hopefully one day it can get the heights it was many years ago.
We are only able to do so much. We can promote the good in town via our website and social media, but it’s up to other people within the town to help create good, and ensure we can build something to be proud of for the next generation.
What do you want people to remember about Barry with this campaign and what is the message you have for people in the UK and the world with this campaign?
The message is, Barry is not a town that once was, it’s a town that is. Take a look at our blue flag beaches, talk a walk through Porthkerry Park, enjoy our scenery and be proud to live or visit ‘Barrybados.’
What do you think of the campaign? Would you visit Barry? Have your say in the comments section below.