WTA and Mid Wales Tourism representatives attended a pre-meeting discussion on Friday with the Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister, prior to the official scrutiny session of the First Minister (FM). The committee met with the WTA and a few invited tourism business owners to hear their experiences of running tourism businesses; their concerns, and to find out their opinion on how the tourism industry in Wales can be strengthened. Issues discussed, though not exhaustive, as follows:
- Cost concerns, in particular pressure from Non-Domestic Business Rates alongside revalued rents. The condition of many small town centres struggling to offer a suitable range of shops and restaurants. - Cost pressure from the increase in the price of oil, due to the falling pound coupled to the continuing uncertainty surrounding BREXIT - The poor start to the year with the cold winter weather and the possible impact of the visitor staying at home staycation i.e., the good weather; World Cup; economic uncertainty coupled to the need for more strategic marketing. - VisitBritain, or is it VisitEngland? What is Wales getting from the relationship? - Volume v. Value - How does the FM envisage raising the value of our offer to our main target audience over the border? Visit Wales marketing and its support was discussed as it was by the FM later on. - The need to sustain the rural economy; in an economic context agriculture and tourism are intertwined, however with a possible decline in farm income, the pressure to diversify increases, the immediate thought is likely to be an increased supply of Tourism product. We need a strong agricultural community. - The New Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018 and its implications for small tourism businesses in Wales.
Many of the above points were raised at the Scrutiny Session that followed, although as ever, the AMs did revert to issues that related more to their local constituency, in particular transport related issues, rather than to do with the wider tourism picture. The minutes from the Session will be available on the Welsh Government pages shortly.