Not much mention of tourists, however... 'Developing places' which enrich people’s lives is at the heart of Wales’ new planning policy, which was launched by Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths last month. The refreshed Planning Policy Wales, will underpin all future planning decisions, will put an emphasis on people and places and ensure developments built today leave a legacy of well-designed, sustainable places which improve lives. Let us hope so.
The new policy has a firm focus on ‘placemaking’ – an approach to development which ensures communities have all the services they need within easy reach and development is of high quality. Wales will be the only country in the UK to take this approach to planning.
Other key changes to Wales’ planning policy which are designed to help Wales lower its carbon emissions at the same time as creating places people can live well, include:
Passport Office issues advice as part of their Contingency Planning in the event of a No Deal Brexit
UK nationals travelling to the EU after 29 March 2019 need to have six months left on their UK passport from the date of travel. This applies to both adult and child passports. Those who have had extra months added to their existing ten year UK passport, because they renewed their old passport before it expired, may find that these additional months do not count towards the six months that should be remaining. As the UK could crash-out the EU at the last moment, it is therefore important that any customer with a passport that expires within six months of their date of travel get their passport renewed as soon as possible.
Following a year of celebrating Wales’ epic shoreline during Year of the Sea, Visit Wales has launched gearing up for Year of Discovery 2019 - when people will be encouraged to rediscover Wales and find something new about Wales and about themselves.
Lord Elis-Thomas said: “I’d like to thank the industry for their support during the Year of the Sea as well as during the previous themed years. By coming together and working in partnership Wales has a strong voice – in a very competitive marketplace. We know that our themed year campaigns are generating over £350m a year in the economy and that the 2018 television advert, featuring Luke Evans, was positively received by our target audiences. And now we will embark on our Year of Discovery. In 2019 we want to encourage our visitors to discover Wales anew, to discover new parts of Wales and to try out enriching outdoor, adventure and cultural experiences across the country".
“Wales is full of hidden corners; as well as world-famous attractions. And so the challenge is set to visit places you have never been before; or to try something for the very first time. Go coasteering or zip-lining; tick off more of Wales’s 600 castles from your must-see list; or to visit one of our galleries or museums to learn something new about our past. Sain Ffagan’s new £30 million redevelopment is a great place to start.”
A multi-media international campaign on the theme of discovery will run throughout 2019, with activity planned in Wales, across the rest of UK, Ireland and international markets. The campaign will be on digital, television, on on-demand platforms, and in key travel hubs from January in Wales - with the main marketing push across the rest of the UK taking place in March around the key holiday booking times.
Further events and activities are planned throughout the year – with more details to be announced early in 2019. The Deputy Minister will kick-start Year of Discovery 2019 with visits to west Wales.
Six months into my role as Chair, it is a great opportunity to extend my thanks to all our members for their continued support and to our four new members recruited over the last twelve months – and therefore to convey a brief end of term update. It has, as they say, been an interesting six months.
The Tourism Industry in Wales is undoubtedly entering a new world, politically, socially and technologically. Whilst we may feel powerless to influence seismic political events, there are issues closer to home where the WTA can and has been making its mark. At this juncture, it would be remiss of me not to record my appreciation of the sterling work carried out by our Policy Advocate, Adrian, whose level of knowledge and insight never fails to amaze me. Special thanks also to Eirlys, Ffion and Zoe for their unstinting admin support which is so critically important. So progress to date in brief:
We have advocated our case and met with Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM, Minister with Tourism portfolio, to register our stance as per our strategy (which we updated in August this year) on devolved tourism issues. We have also contacted UK Government Ministers, including the Chancellor of the Exchequer, again setting out our position here in Wales. Taking in the possibility of a change of UK Government, we have also sent correspondence to the Shadow Tourism Minister, with a request to meet in the near future.
We have responded to consultations on various issues, including more recently the Welsh Government’s proposals for a new Land Management Programme, proposals for the National Development Framework for Wales and the Inquiry into the implications of Brexit for Welsh ports. We have also been consulted on issues as wide ranging as Non-Domestic Business Rates; consumer protection in the package travel sector and of course the on-going issue of tourism tax!
We have also represented the WTA and your interests in face to face meetings with Welsh Government; VisitBritain, sector related seminars, tourism interest & association membership groups and presented evidence to committee on the industry’s behalf. Responses also given to the media. Whilst this is brief resume, we will continue to keep you informed on a daily basis via our tweets and of course here on our website (www.wta.org.uk/news) and for members at our membership meetings.
Please don’t forget Wales Tourism Week (w/c 12th May 2019), so please put that date in your diaries. More details to follow....and finally many thanks to the Caravan and Motorhome Club for hosting us at the Christmas Luncheon, it was great to see so many friends of the WTA in London yesterday.
May I wish you all, Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!
Andrew Campbell – Chair
Wales Tourism Alliance
The Law Commission recognises that the legislation governing the planning system in Wales is often confusing and unhelpful, whilst it has been much amended over the last 30 years, it is still full of obsolete provisions. The Welsh Government invited the Law Commission to review the legislation relating to planning as it applies in Wales and their final report was put before the UK Parliament and the Assembly on the 3rd December. The Welsh Government will now provide an interim response to the report by the end of May 2019, and a detailed response by the end of November 2019.
The Law Commission now hopes that their proposed reforms will be adopted and form a key input into a new Planning (Wales) Bill, possibly alongside a new Historic Environment (Wales) Bill to be laid before the Assembly during this assembly term. This new legal basis for planning control in Wales, will replace the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the Planning (Wales) Act 2015, the Listed Buildings Act 1990, the Historic Environment (Wales) Act 2016, five other Acts, the relevant parts of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, and parts of another 25 pieces of legislation.
Public Law Commissioner Nicholas Paines QC stated: “Planning law is simple in principle, but notoriously complex in practice. This Report contains a wide range of recommendations as to technical reforms to the legislation, that will hopefully lead to the creation of a well-structured Planning Code for Wales.”
The report can be downloaded from here: www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/planning-law-in-wales/
The WTA congratulate and look forward to working with Mark Drakeford AM, following the announcement of his appointment as the new leader of Labour in the Welsh Assembly.
"We are confident that Mark Drakeford will stand up for communities across Wales and support our tourism industry which is so crucial to the sustainability of the Wales economy, particularly in rural areas. We look forward to working with him to discuss how we can make tourism more competitive and ensure Wales builds on its strengths and becomes an even more desirable tourism destination to visit." Andrew Campbell, Chair, WTA.
Chair of the WTA welcomes the UK Government announcement that they will be taking forward the Tourism Industry bid
The Secretary of State, Jeremy Wright has announced that the Government will take forward the Tourism Bid under the UK Industrial Strategy. There are six sector deals in place, 'if' this finally goes ahead then this will be the seventh and gives the tourism industry the recognition it needs and deserves. We say, 'if' as there are still detailed negotiations required until the deal can be signed-off. Detail for the proposals in the bid document will now need to be hammered out, match funding and industry commitment found. Therefore, considerable work is still required on what exactly is needed to boost skills, jobs and productivity.
Andrew Campbell, Chair of the WTA remarked, 'Whilst we welcome and recognise this important milestone, we are well aware there is still a great deal of work to be done before we see the final bid'.
It is hoped a final deal will be ready by the end of the first quarter next year and thereby implemented as soon as is possible after Brexit.
Following on from the evidence that the WTA provided in October, the External Affairs Committee has today published their report: Preparing for Brexit - Follow-up report on the preparedness of Welsh ports. A copy can be obtained from the link below.
The Wales Tourism Alliance highlighted a number of concerns about the implications of Brexit for the tourism sector:
- In addition to emphasising the need for seamless travel, the WTA stated that there has been a singular lack on information and direction given which we believe has caused much widespread frustration.
- The WTA also expressed concerns about the lack of time available for detailed analysis of the issues and preparation of the sector.
- Wales Tourism Alliance stated that a no deal, hard border option would be the worst possible option and expressed a preference for the continuation of “seamless travel” after Brexit.
Andrew Campbell, Chair stated 'The WTA believe it would be helpful for the Welsh Government to demonstrate leadership by disseminating information to transport operators, stating that action is needed to allay fears and to provide urgent reassurance".
The Wales Tourism Alliance attended the launch of the South West and Mid Wales Regional Employment and Skills Plan on Friday 23rd November 2018 at the Liberty Stadium, Swansea. There are three RLS partnerships in Wales which are working to drive investment in skills training, based upon local and regional need. As the WTA has often propounded, a skilled workforce is an essential component for economic growth and in a fast moving, technologically driven world it is crucial for tourism businesses to develop training provision to keep pace with change. The Employment and Skills Plan is at the heart of WG skills policy, which is striving to support the delivery of a post 16 learning environment which is fit for purpose. In respect of tourism, the plan makes mention of the misguided perceptions held by potential learners about the sector, which has a serious impact upon recruitment and retention. Objectives to undertake targeted interventions in schools to provide information about the true nature of working in tourism, together with the need for businesses to develop training, which is aspirational and motivational, have been included as key action points.
WTA Chair, Andrew Campbell said, “whilst it is gratifying to note the increased number of employers who have been involved in developing the RLSP plan, there is still a clear need for more tourism businesses to become involved in regional cluster groups, both to highlight training requirements and also to influence educational curriculum. Significant opportunities will be made through respective City and Growth Deals across Wales, which is exciting, but will only be fully realised through increased employer engagement. Tourism needs to make its voice heard!”
Rt Hon Kevin Brennan MP
Labour Member of Parliament for Cardiff West
Dear Mr Brennan,
The Wales Tourism Industry – WTA Highlighting Urgent Issues
As the newly appointed Chair of the Wales Tourism Alliance I thought it appropriate to firstly introduce myself – and secondly to bring to your attention some Wales tourism issues, which have relevance to your role as Shadow Minister for Heritage and the Arts.
The tourism industry in Wales has consistently demonstrated a very high return on public investment and has been at the forefront of the UK’s economic recovery. VisitBritain calculates that it only takes £26 of public funding to generate £624 of additional tourism revenue for the UK – which equates to just £225 of investment to create an additional job. This is supported by Office for National Statistics research which show that tourism generates considerable additional employment, export earnings and revenue for the Exchequer.
Within Wales tourism generates approximately £6 billion of visitor spend and provides jobs for 172,000 people. In economic terms it contributes 13% of GDP to the nation which is significantly higher than in England (8.6%), Scotland (10.4%) and Northern Ireland (5%). But tourism in Wales operates in an increasingly competitive global marketplace, which can be evidenced by the recent publication of IPS data. Feedback received from our members invariably focuses on rising operating costs together with threats posed by external agencies and even the threat of new taxes, while other industries receive substantial subsidies.
96% of our businesses in Wales are small, even micro, providing employment and self-employment where other industries simply cannot. Many are subsistence in nature, providing a sustainable income where little or no other employment exists. Therefore although they may not contribute large amounts to National GDP they are vitally important to our local communities and deserve greater attention than they currently get.
The Wales Tourism Alliance believes that to maintain and grow our market share, a number of measures should be considered by the UK Government and be part of the new Tourism Sector Deal specifically highlighting Wales. This would alleviate financial pressures, provide a more equitable trading environment – and create additional opportunities:
Therefore, I am taking this opportunity to draw your attention to a number of issues that the Wales Tourism Alliance members are particularly concerned about with regard to the lack of support we feel we are receiving from UK led initiatives:
VisitEngland’s Remit seems to be being confused with VisitBritain’s remit. Visit England’s role is to concentrate on English domestic tourism marketing and development and VisitBritain’s is to concentrate on overseas marketing for the UK. It is becoming increasingly difficult to separate the two organisations, it is understandable, particularly following cuts to VE’s budget in recent years that the two organisations working physically together are going to become ever closer. We are concerned that Wales’ visibility is too low with regard to VB Marketing. The default seems to err toward Wales simply being treated as a region of England. To counter this a pronounced boost should be provided to Visit Britain to place Wales on a level playing field with England.
Is GREAT delivering for Wales? Related to the above, The Wales Tourism Alliance is generally supportive of the GREAT campaign, we recognise that it has been very successful in establishing a coherent brand for UK Plc and has markedly increased recognition of the UK in target markets, however, the GREAT campaign is not a substitute for direct marketing of Wales overseas. Successful international tourism marketing of Wales requires long-term strategic investment that cannot be provided through an initiative that generally targets markets more susceptible to English London centric product. Does Wales potentially needs specific campaigns in overseas markets that are not part of the GREAT campaign, but crucial to Wales?
On-line Travel Agencies have had a huge impact on our local NfP destination management organisations and partnerships, we need to find new means of support to bring our disparate industry together locally.
Review current tax rules on home sharing, which has particular relevance in terms of second home ownership in Wales and introduce regulatory requirements for those individuals renting property within the sharing economy, not visible to HMRC, to ensure guest safety and to minimise risk;
Reduce current rate of VAT, which would help mitigate the UK’s low ranking by the World Economic Forum in terms of tourism price competitiveness (135 out of 136 countries);
Increase the minimum threshold for employer National Insurance Contributions to stimulate recruitment by smaller businesses;
Ours is an industry that post BREXIT contains considerable opportunities for growth, but growth that is dependent on both Wales devolved Government and the UK Government delivering in partnership. We believe that the value of tourism to the UK and Welsh economy, requires more attention in relation to the above points we raise.
Adrian Greason-Walker, WTA Policy Advocate and myself would be happy to meet with you to discuss the issues further. And of course if the WTA can be of any help to you at all, over any matters, please do not hesitate to get in contact.
All good wishes.
Chair - Wales Tourism Alliance