It is with great pleasure that I accept the role of Chair of the Wales Tourism alliance, as of August 2018, which I will carry out to the best of my abilities. Knowing some of the individuals who have held this position in the past I feel suitably honoured.
For those who do not know me I come from a predominantly educational background, but upon leaving school studied Hotel Management for three years at University College Birmingham (formerly Birmingham College of Food, Tourism and Creative Studies). Practical experience was then gained working in both the hotel and institutional catering sectors.
Up until September 2017 I was Head of School of Tourism at the University of Wales Trinity St David. Now having taken on a wider strategic role within the Faculty of Business, this new appointment has enabled me to become further engaged with grassroots tourism and to become more involved in regional projects. I am currently Vice Chair of Pembrokeshire Tourism and also sit on various committees which includes Visit Wales SW Regional Forum, Carmarthenshire County Council Destination Management Team, Steering Group for the proposed Wales School of Hospitality, St David’s Diocesan Faith Tourism Group, North Pembrokeshire Transport Forum – and being based in Fishguard, belong to a Welcome Group for cruise ship passengers to the port.
Throughout my career, vocational education has been my “raison d’etre” and for many years it has been a privilege to teach students and to help develop programmes to best meet the needs of industry. Looking ahead to the post Brexit landscape, partnerships between education and industry will assume an even greater importance, as concerns over labour supply and skill shortages heighten. The WTA will therefore have a critical role to play in helping to address this challenge, with a need to bring creative and innovative proposals concerning new educational provision to the table.
The newly drafted WTA Policy Document is required reading for all members. There can be no doubt, to quote Joseph Chamberlain, “that we live in interesting times” (paraphrased from a Chinese proverb). Geopolitical, social and environmental change has been fast moving and has impacted upon all economic sectors, particularly tourism. Whilst concern is understandable, change may also bring about opportunity and positive benefits. However to secure these outcomes, businesses will have to be in a state of readiness.
There is therefore an industry imperative, if tourism in Wales is to continue to prosper and grow, to be proactive towards events now, rather than to be reactive later. To help achieve this, the WTA must continue to make its voice heard about policies which may impact upon the visitor economy. Greater emphasis must be placed upon gathering market intelligence by all, as the more we know and can understand, the more effective our advocacy will be. If in these uncertain times, rules are to be rewritten, it is incumbent for the WTA to be best placed to shape and influence discussions. A key priority as always must be to continue to increase our level of membership to widen out our spectrum of representation, attracting new businesses, organisations, communities and individuals who can bring different perspectives to these deliberations.
As the incoming Chair I feel that we must continue to build upon the excellent work which has been carried out over many years, presenting constructive dialogue and creative thoughts towards a wide range of issues. We will continue to share a common industry aspiration for Wales to be a distinctive, competitive and sustainable tourism destination, which provides enjoyment to visitors and economic prosperity for trading organisations.
May I conclude by paying tribute to the continued input from Paul Loveluck, Adrian Greason-Walker and the engagement from members that has helped to ensure WTA has remained relevant during turbulent times… and of course our outgoing Chair, Adrian Barsby, who has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Alliance – and who has carried out his duties with distinction. It has been, quite simply, “a job well done”. Diolch yn fawr iawn!
I look forward to meeting members at future meetings.
All good wishes.
Chair - Wales Tourism Alliance