MWT Cymru, an independent, not for profit company representing tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and Meirionnydd, is attracting more members and visitors.
The company’s annual meeting, held at Portmeirion, heard that 56 new members had joined during 2019, boosting membership to 614
More visitors are also being attracted to the company’s websites, which welcomed 1.73 million unique users, 38% up on last year and 14.4 million page views, up 54%. There were 99,000 direct referrals to businesses from the www.visitmidwales.co.uk website.
The positive membership and website figures provided the platform for a very busy and successful year for the MWT Cymru team, based in Machynlleth.
“MWT Cymru is a tourism organisation which has highly experienced staff and directors and 600-plus member businesses,” said chief executive Val Hawkins. “We pool our knowledge and expertise, working collaboratively with partner organisations and local tourism groups, to grow and develop a resilient tourism sector and ensure we are able to weather any storms which may be headed our way.”
Successful marketing projects run during the year included #RealMidWales, which is grant funded by Visit Wales and aims to put Mid Wales on the map as a “must visit” destination.
A live streaming project, organised at four locations in partnership with Visit Wales, National Trust Cymru, Hafren Dyfrdwy, RSPB Cymru and National Resources Wales, reached 589,000 people in the target audience – people aged 27-45 years. This campaign will be further developed in 2020, said Mrs Hawkins.
She also revealed that a ‘This is Mid Wales’ integrated marketing campaign, funded by Visit Wales, started in May to promote the region and the #realmidwales messages. The campaign will include targeted advertising on Sky TV, social media, user generated content, a mixed media destination guide and workshops.
A ‘Real Ceredigion Experiences’ pilot project, aimed at the county’s attractions and activities sector, saw 12 businesses attend workshops and receive consultancy support to develop their digital selling techniques.
One of the 2020 marketing campaigns will be targeted at the “conscious traveller” by promoting Mid Wales as a staycation destination, particularly outside the peak tourism season.
Chairman Rowland Rees-Evans said:
Working in partnership with other organisations is in our DNA and I am delighted that MWT Cymru continues to work closely with the Visit Wales national tourism team.
“We will continue to champion the need for increased funding for the tourism industry in Wales and to encourage our local authorities to work closely with MWT Cymru in order to best maximise return on investment on their own limited budgets.”
He urged the Welsh Government to invest more money on marketing tourism in Wales, comparing the investment of £40 million in Ireland and £45 million in Scotland to the £20 million in Wales. The return on investment was €6 billion in Ireland, £9 billion in Scotland and £5 billion in Wales.
He had recently attended a Hoseasons conference where it was reported that the company was investing £40 million to enhance its IT system because ‘staycationing’ was forecast to continue growing. He also referred to the growth of “gramping” where grandparents take their grandchildren on holiday.
Both he and Helen Jones, Visit Wales’s regional engagement manager for Mid Wales, congratulated the MWT Cymru’s team for organising “fantastic” Mid Wales Tourism Awards in October, which showcased what the region had to offer.
Rob Bullen, from the Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth, welcomed the focus on the “conscious traveller”, while other members expressed concern about the unreliability of the Transport for Wales train services to the region and the need for “joined up thinking” on the location of charging points for electric cars across Wales.
Members also spoke about the demand for accommodation for short breaks for groups, the attraction of visitors in the shoulder season and the importance of tourists to support golf clubs.
Meurig Jones from Portmeirion and Paul Fowles from Aberdovey Cottages, Aberdovey, were appointed Gwynedd trade directors of MWT Cymru for the next three years.