Rowland Rees-Evans, chairman of MWT Cymru, says the figures produced by The Tourism Barometer were generally positive but warned that business profit margins were being squeezed by rising costs. The Tourism Barometer provides ‘snapshots’ of industry performance and assesses business confidence throughout the year. The barometer revealed that nationally 42% of the businesses surveyed had more visitors than last year, while 39% reported a similar level – in Mid Wales the figures were 44% and 35%.
More than half (54%) of food venues fed more people in 2017 than they did last year and 50% of attractions and activity operators had seen more visitors. Two in five (42%) serviced accommodation operators said that 2017 had brought more staying visitors.
Forty-one per cent of caravan and campsite operators welcomed more people and 43% of self-catering operators reported a similar number of visitors to last year, with around a third (35%) taking more bookings. A third (33%) of businesses said their own marketing, including social media, had contributed towards the increase in visitors. Two fifths (39%) of businesses reported an increase in profitability while 35% said profits were about the same as last year.
The survey also showed that 39% of operators had noticed more British people enjoying their holidays and short breaks in Wales. About half of respondents expected more visitors next year and a further 45% expected the same level. The main barriers to growth identified by tourism businesses were rising costs, local authority austerity measures, economic conditions and changing business regulations.
Mr Rees-Evans, who runs Penrhos Park, a country club, golf complex and holiday park at Llanrhystyd, near Aberaeron, said: “The survey shows that we are attracting more visitors to Wales but also reflects concern about the rising costs that are eating into the profitability of businesses.
“Speaking on behalf of Penrhos Park, I can vouch for the fact that more British people are staycationing and that there is a trend towards shorter breaks. Our forward bookings for 2018 have been good which is very positive.”
Looking forward to 2018, which has been themed ‘Year of the Sea’ by Visit Wales, he believes that Ceredigion and Meirionnydd are well placed to benefit due to the popularity of their coastline.
Mr Rees-Evans encouraged tourism businesses located near rivers and lakes in Mid Wales to take advantage of the water-based theme next year. He is also keen for tourism businesses to benefit from Visit Wales’ promotion of the scenic Wales coastal route and the A470 road through the heart of Wales during 2018.