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Research Reveals What the English Really Think of Wales and its Business Environment

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To celebrate Wales Week in London 2022, leading Welsh communications agency, Golley Slater, has uncovered what the English really think about Wales and the Welsh – with some surprising results.

Headquartered in the Welsh capital, Golley Slater commissioned the research with Cardiff-based Beaufort Research to gather insights to better understand how people in England perceive Wales, its industries, and its people.

The rivalry on both sides of the bridge is well documented – especially when it comes to rugby – but research reveals that the English have positive perceptions when it comes to Wales and its attributes.

Wales was deemed by more people in England as being welcoming (55%) and passionate (42%) compared with 38% and 29% respectively who recognised those attributes in their home nation.

When it comes to patriotism, the English are also more likely to classify the Welsh as patriotic with half (50%) describing Wales as patriotic compared with 45% considering it true of England.  

Attribute % applying to Wales % applying to England
Welcoming 55 38
Scenic 50 30
Patriotic 50 45
Passionate 42 29
Kind 37 24
Tolerant 14 31
Innovative 11 28

But it’s not all positive, with research showing that there are still outdated views on Wales from those on the other side of the bridge. Just one in 10 people consider Wales to be innovative, and only 14% feel the country and its people are tolerant.

Meanwhile, one in three people believes Wales has poor transport connections and one in four think Wales has poor internet connection.

Talking business

When it comes to the industrial landscape of Wales, research reveals that 15% of people still associate Wales with the coal and steel industries. This is particularly true of Londoners, where one in five people think it’s still a key industry.

Meanwhile, tourism (62%), agriculture (51%), food and drink (25%) and the public sector (25%) were the top industries identified as being associated with Wales by people in England.

While tourism, food and drink and the public sector are indeed key industries in Wales, it seems that people in England overestimate Wales' reliance on agriculture, which only accounts for roughly 1% of all our industries.

The English also underestimate Wales’ skills as manufacturers, which actually accounts for 16% of all our industries.

Doing business in Wales sees people in England sitting on the fence, with 50% believing it’s a good place to do business. This drops to 42% among Londoners.

The Good Life

Despite the fact people in England feel they know more about Scotland (51%) compared with Wales (42%), there is a lot of positive sentiment towards Wales and its people from England.

Here’s what they think:

  • One in two people in England believe Wales has strong political leadership
  • 72% of people in England believe Wales is a fair society
  • Almost nine in ten people in England (86%) believe Wales has a strong sense of community
  • 81% of English people think that it’s important that Wales stays in the union.
  • 71% believe Wales offers a great quality of life

Perhaps unsurprising then, that 92% of households in England with children are interested in visiting Wales, and 79% of households without kids feel the same.

Head of Strategy and Insights at Golley Slater, Angharad Thomas, said:

It’s clear that our passion and patriotism hasn’t gone unnoticed by our longstanding rugby rivals, and no doubt they’ll feel the full force of it for this weekend’s game at Twickenham.

“Our research has revealed some really interesting statistics and we’ve been pleasantly surprised by some of the positive perceptions people in England have about Wales and its people.

“While many of the results have confirm an English fondness for Wales, there is still evidence of some outdated views and stereotypes.

“We’ve enjoyed unpacking these gems and will be looking at how we can use these insights to support businesses, brands and organisations looking for opportunities on both sides of the border.”

Angharad Thomas will be joined by Fiona McAllister, Managing Director of Beaufort Research, as they host a free online webinar today at 4pm to analyse the results of the research and what it means for businesses in Wales.

For more information on how to sign-up to the webinar, contact [email protected].