The inaugural Mid Wales Tourism Awards, designed to celebrate and showcase the region’s exceptional tourism industry, were a resounding success last night (17/10/2019). To be recognised alongside the winners is the exceptional job undertaken by the team at Mid Wales Tourism, led by Val Hawkins for delivering such a professional and well received awards dinner and ceremony.
There were forty-two finalists in 13 categories at The Hafren in Newtown which was compered by Welsh tourism personality Jonathan Jones, CBE. The biennial awards are organised by MWT Cymru with support from Mid Wales Regional Tourism Forum, a public and private sector partnership and Visit Wales, the Welsh Government’s tourism arm. (Inset: Best place to eat & drink: WTA with award winners the Nags Head, Garthmyl. For a full list of entrants and winners please visit Mid Wales Tourism website).
The largest category was Young Tourism Person of the Year, supported by Grŵp Colegau NPTC Group of Colleges, which had seven finalists. The award is designed to recognise young entrepreneurial, professional and business talents aged 30 years and under.
Granted an Awards Trust Mark by the Independent Awards Standards Council, the awards are open to all businesses, organisations and individuals who contribute to tourism within Mid Wales. Sponsors this year were Cambrian Training, Grŵp Colegau NPTC Group of Colleges, Royal Welsh Agricultural Society, Busnes Cymdeithasol Cymru/ Social Business Wales, Cambrian News, County Times and Express and Gazette, Mid Wales Journal and NFU Mutual.
MWT Cymru is the regional destination marketing and membership organisation for Powys, Ceredigion and Meirionnydd district of Southern Snowdonia. As a not-for-profit social enterprise company, MWT Cymru supports and represents more than 550 tourism businesses and organisations across the region.
'Access to Banking' Inquiry Report Released - Assembly for Wales Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee
The Wales Tourism Alliance input into the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee 'Access to Banking' Inquiry Report, with Adrian Greason-Walker, WTA Policy Adviser appearing to give evidence before the Committee on the 19th June 2019.
The WTA's main argument is that access to banking services should be maintained, particularly access to cash in order that our visitors are able to maintain their spend, which per head, is lower in Wales than other parts of the UK. Many of our micro and small businesses particularly in seaside and rural areas are dependent on cash. We are pleased to see that the Committee has taken our concerns on-board as per much of the recommendations below, although not explicitly relating to tourism, cover much of our industry’s needs. We look forward to their implementation.
Recommendation 1. The Welsh Government must prioritise its engagement with the Joint Authorities Cash Strategy Group (JACS) and ensuring that the specific needs of Wales are represented and reflected in the actions taken to protect and improve access to cash.
Recommendation 2. The Welsh Government must continue to work with LINK and the regulators on efforts to strengthen and support the existing free-to-use ATM network, and ensure that coverage is where it is needed most.
Recommendation 3. The Welsh Government should explore how regional hubs, and cooperation and collaboration between different agencies can improve the access to cash in Welsh communities (recognising that cash-handling is an expensive business).
Recommendation 4. The Welsh Government must work with local government to ensure that local development plans address any barriers to maintaining the cash infrastructure, for example by balancing heritage conservation measures with the need to maintain ATM access in rural areas.
Recommendation 5. The Welsh Government should update the Committee on how its plans to amend the Consolidated Use Classes Order and permitted development rights will take account of the need to protect and maintain banking infrastructure in Welsh communities.
Recommendation 6. The UK Government and the JACS group should review whether the Access to Banking Standard is sufficiently robust to address the impact of bank closures on vulnerable people, SMEs and local communities, or whether regulatory or other mitigating action is needed.
Recommendation 7. The Welsh Government should review its support for the Post Office Network and explore with the UK Government and Post Office Ltd how to support efforts to expand the cash-in-out and other services it can offer, and to raise public awareness of its banking services across Wales.
Recommendation 8. The Welsh Government should properly map the gaps in banking services overall - access to banks, Post Offices, free-to-use ATMs and connectivity for digital banking. Based on an increased understanding of the gaps, Welsh Government should explore what more it can do to address the wellbeing impacts associated with reduced access in rural communities, e.g. investing in Access to Banking 8 transport options, partnership approaches, planning interventions and connectivity projects to improve access in the worst affected areas.
Recommendation 9. The Welsh Government should continue to pursue urgently with the UK Government and Ofcom, the implementation of measures to provide adequate connectivity for digital banking across all of Wales.
Recommendation 10. The Welsh Government’s support for digital inclusion should prioritise a) maintaining support for existing digital skills training, b) consulting stakeholders on how to further address barriers to older and vulnerable people safely accessing online banking, and c) providing additional support to teachers to deliver financial education within the school curriculum.
Recommendation 11. Welsh Government to set out in detail how it intends to consider the impact on communities, town centres and high streets of bank closures and the loss of free-to-use ATMs in its regeneration and community wealth building activities.
Recommendation 12. Welsh Government should ensure that any community banking proposal in Wales takes full account of the need to deliver bilingual banking services.
Recommendation 13. The Welsh Government should: ▪ Provide assurances that the due diligence process for supporting the Banc Cambria community bank included a rigorous assessment of the impact this could have on the credit union sector, and set out how it will mitigate potentially negative impacts in consultation with that sector; ▪ Detail its strategy for managing the ongoing risks associated with putting public money into the un-tested Community Savings Bank Association banking model, and clarify the level of future support it anticipates offering the community bank; ▪ Confirm the timescales for delivering a community bank for Wales; and ▪ Confirm whether it is confident the Banc Cambria proposal will meet the evidenced desire for physical face-to-face banking services for elderly, disabled and vulnerable customers.
Recommendation 14. The Welsh Government should actively pursue other collaborative ideas for delivery of banking services, including through partnership arrangements, alongside its support for the Banc Cambria community banking model. Its criteria for supporting proposals to improve access to banking services Access to Banking 9 should have a strong emphasis on guaranteeing greater financial inclusion.
The Queen’s Speech contains a significant number of items that have implications for the Tourism industry:
- Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill - This Bill will end the free movement of EU nationals into the UK and set the framework for a new points-based immigration system to be introduced in 2021. UKinbound’s research has highlighted that, finding people with the skills needed by tourism businesses is going to be one of the industry’s most significant issues post Brexit so it will be important that this Bill takes account of soft skills such as languages.
Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill - This new Bill aims to replace a voluntary Code of Practice within the industry with legal obligations on employers to pass on all tips to workers in full and, where they distribute tips amongst workers, to do so on a fair and transparent basis.
Broadband - New legislation is proposed in order to roll-out gigabit capable broadband across the UK in order to achieve nationwide coverage as soon as possible
Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill - This Bills aims to make aviation travel quicker, quieter and cleaner by modernising airspace, as well as modernising the licensing framework for air traffic control, the Bill will also give the Government powers to direct an airport or other relevant body to prepare and submit a proposal to the Civil Aviation Authority to change the design of their airspace.
Airline insolvency legislation - This new legislation comes in the wake of the Thomas Cook collapse and will be aimed at protecting passengers in the event of an airline insolvency by reforming the insolvency process to make sure the industry can get passengers home quickly and effectively when an airline collapses. One of the key elements will be to keep the company’s aircraft flying long enough for passengers to be repatriated
Railway Reform - The Government will publish a White Paper on the Williams Review recommendations later this autumn with the aim of implementing reforms in 2020. At the heart of this will be initiatives to simplify fares and ticketing
UKinbound has released a major piece of research that they commissioned from Canterbury Christ Church University on the impact of leaving the EU and the proposed £30k threshold in the Government’s Immigration white paper on employment in the UK tourism industry.
The research shows that the Government’s proposed post-Brexit immigration reforms have the potential to severely destabilise the tourism industry in the UK. The key findings of the research, which centred on a survey of tourism businesses, are that:
65% of businesses said that the proposals would impact negatively on their ability to continue to operate
71% of businesses believe that the proposals would impact negatively on their ability to expand
75% of businesses believe that the proposals would impact negatively on their ability to remain competitive
68% of tourism businesses cited the limited domestic labour market as the key reason for the continued need for EU workers
80% of tour operators and destination management businesses cited the lack of home-grown talent with foreign language skills as the driving force behind the need for EU workers.
The main report is available on the UKinbound website https://www.ukinbound.org/ and there is also a video that sets out the findings. https://vimeo.com/ukinbound/a-perfect-storm
The Grove is the 4th hotel in Wales to achieve 5 stars. The Deputy Minister for Culture Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas visited the hotel to congratulate the team and meet with owner Neil Kedward. The hotel is privately owned by Neil and Zoe Kedward who have since taking ownership in 2007 as a derelict building turned it into a 26 bedroom luxury country house hotel. What an achievement. The WTA Chair, Andrew Campbell, (far left) also met with Lord Elis-Thomas (left) on the day (16/09/2019), to forward his congratulations to Neil and the team and to discuss various issues alongside Policy Advisor, Adrian Greason-Walker (Centre). Including quality assurance, the development of tourism infrastructure and marketing.
Visit Wales will be on the road in October for the latest series of tourism industry roadshows.These half-day events will focus on the Future Priorities Action Plan for Tourism in Wales – which will be the successor to the current Tourism Strategy; Partnership for Growth.
Andrew Campbell, Chair WTA and Adrian Greason-Walker, Policy Advocate attended the Tourism Deal Conference in Birmingham (18/09/2019). It was also a great chance for the four Tourism Alliances from around the UK to catch up. From left to right: Marc Crothall, Scottish TA; Kurt Janson: English TA; Adrian Greason-Walker Wales TA; Joanne Stuart; Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance
The new Minister, Helen Whateley, opened the conference and re-affirmed her, and the Government’s, commitment to the Deal. The overall message was that the one year Comprehensive Spending Review Settlement has curtailed the implementation of some aspects of the Deal which rely on Government funding, the emphasis is now on the Government’s continued commitment and that the streams of work are being taken forward regardless and will be firmed-up when a full three year CSR takes place next year.
UK Tourism Data Hub: VB on the data hub are in talks with a number of organisations able to provide in depth visitor data. A representative for EE discussed the type of work that they have done for Heathrow. The capacity of using big data has great potential. Big data can also be overlaid with other data sets to provide predictions of visitor number. The Data Hub will be available for organisations to use without charge and will provide information at the regional and local level. Significant issues remain regarding privacy and the benefit of involvement to the data suppliers.
The International Business Events Action Plan is being implemented and there were offers of help from VB with Growth Fund support and soft support from DCMS such as Ministerial letters for destinations wanting to win events and reduce seasonality. Head of Business Events, Kerrin MacPhie, and the Director of Europe and Business Tourism, Robin Johnson, at the key contacts at VB.
The one year CSR settlement has meant that the Tourism Zone initiative has been affected as it needs a long-term financial commitment from Government. We do not yet know how this will be implemented in Wales. The delay will be used to undertake more work on the concept and to finalise details of the bid process and requirements.
'Do You Have Paying Guests guidance' sets out the rules on Fire Safety. The revised draft has been forwarded to the WTA for circulation to industry members. Please see attached below.
If you have any specific points you feel need changing in the draft then please feed them back directly to Steve Pomeroy who leads on all aspects of policy relating to fire and rescue services in Wales - Steve.Pomeroy@gov.wales Once those comments have been collated and the guidance redrafted, it will be re-circulated with the aim of getting a version published by the New Year, which is backed by the Industry, Government and the National Fire Chiefs Council.
The summary report for the August Tourism Business Barometer has been published finding that 35% of businesses have increased their visitor levels during the summer, with the serviced sector performing particularly well. However 21% of businesses reported fewer visitors. Weather was cited as a key factor on performance among a fifth of those reporting fewer visitors. One in six, 16% of businesses reporting an increase cited 'more British people staying in the UK' alongside some qualifying this by saying the weak pound is also an influence. Alternatively, some cited 'Brexit uncertainty' as a key factor in negative performance. The full report will be published on the 19th September.
We have a new UK Tourism Minister – Helen Whately MP, Rebecca Pow MP is joining DEFRA following the former Resources and Waste Minister, Therese Coffey MP, moving to the DWP. Whately has been the MP for Faversham and Mid Kent since 2015, replacing Hugh Robertson. While this is her first ministerial appointment, she was appointed as Deputy Chairwoman of the Conservative Party in April. While her main interests are related to health and the NHS, she is also supportive of rural issues (including fox hunting) and has chaired the Fruit and Vegetable Growers All Party Political Group.