The Welsh and UK Governments are being challenged to realise the potential of the tourism industry and wider visitor economy in their post Brexit plans.
The call comes from the Wales Tourism Alliance, an organisation that represents all sectors of the tourism industry in Wales, which has set out the main challenges and opportunities facing the nation’s tourism industry when the UK leaves European Union.
The WTA has set out a seven-point mainfesto for discussions with Assembly Members, MPs and local authority councillors to secure a thriving future for tourism in Wales. Tourism businesses are being advised to lobby AMs, MPs and councillors to hammer home the key points.
The WTA wants the Welsh Government to:
- Agree a new strategic development plan, including a review of destination partnerships
- Adopt appropriate land and coastal management policies to enhance Wales’ natural environment
- Introduce taxation policies which promote the competitiveness of the industry
- Allocate financial support for capital investment and product improvement by business
- Set a meaningful marketing budget to promote tourism to Wales
- Maintain and improve the skills needed by the Industry
- Ensure key tourism infrastructure investment, including reliable superfast broadband
WTA officials plan to raise the points with Ken Skates, the Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, Alun Cairns, Secretary of State for Wales, Suzy Davies, chair of the Assembly’s Cross Party Tourism Group and Steve Thomas, of the Welsh Local Government Association.
Calls for the UK Government to confirm at the earliest opportunity in the Brexit negotiations the continued right of EU nationals to remain working here are endorsed by the WTA. Tourism businesses are encouraged to reassure their EU workers during this uncertain time, as they are said to play an important role in some sectors of the industry in Wales.
“Brexit presents challenges for the tourism industry in Wales but also great opportunities for growth in business and employment,” said WTA chairman Adrian Barsby. “This will be achieved so long as individual tourism businesses respond to the challenge and are supported by the right government policies, including financial support for the industry commensurate with its needs and potential for growth.
“The reconsideration, which must be given post Brexit to all government support across the spectrum of economic activity, is an opportunity for a fresh look at the needs of the tourism industry and the returns which will be obtained from a more realistic level of Government support.
“It is a time when the rules are being re-written. Let it be done in a way which realises the potential of the tourism industry and wider visitor economy.”
On support for businesses, the WTA says:
“Welsh Government support for capital investment in the industry from all its various support schemes has probably been running at no more than £10 million annually. An earmarked development tourism fund of double the existing annual spend would not be out of place bearing in mind the £2.7 billion contribution of the industry to GDP and its further growth potential.”
On tourism marketing, it says:
“Welsh Government support for the marketing undertaken by Visit Wales is just over £10 million for this year with a one-off increase to £15 million promised for next year. By comparison with competitor destinations, the current marketing budget is inadequate. The Visit Scotland budget, for example, is currently around £55 million which includes provision for a staff complement of around 600, itself an indicator of the competition we are up against.”