The campaign was unveiled at the sold out annual Mid Wales Tourism and Business Conference which was attended by 130 guests at The Metropole Hotel, Llandrindod Wells on Friday.
The conference, themed ‘Marketing the Real Mid Wales: A Shared Vision”, was sponsored by NFU Mutual, Aberystwyth and organised by MWT Cymru, an independent organisation that represents around 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Mid Wales.
MWT Cymru chief executive Val Hawkins and chairman Rowland Rees-Evans encouraged businesses and organisations involved in the tourism industry in the region to work together to promote the ‘Real Mid Wales’ message.
The campaign will focus on the environment and nature, adventure and sport, health and wellbeing and transport routes.
“Those of us fortunate to live in this beautiful part of the country all have our own ideas about what makes the ‘Real Mid Wales’ so special,” said Mr Rees-Evans.
“The challenge for tourism and hospitality businesses is how best to share our enthusiasm to attract visitors.
“With public sector funding under pressure, is it time for the industry to combine resources and collaborate on a concerted campaign to market the Real Mid Wales to target audiences?
“This conference should help to focus all our thoughts on a shared goal: to attract more visitors and investment to Mid Wales.”
Mrs Hawkins said the new marketing campaign would focus on raising visitor awareness about what makes the ‘Real Mid Wales’ special. It would be aimed specifically at the 20 million UK people in the 27 to 40 years age group who use the latest technology.
“We have an opportunity to really put Mid Wales on the map and develop new content in a fresh, modern style,” she added.
Keynote speakers were Welsh naturalist and broadcaster Iolo Williams, Visit Cornwall’s chief executive, Malcolm Bell, Mid Wales Regional Tourism Forum chair Steve Hughson, Visit Britain liaison officer Lowri Jones, NFU Mutual hospitality sector specialist Graeme Taylor and Kashing chief executive and co-founder Karen Rossouw.
During his presentation, Mr Williams introduced delegates to a selection of the rare birds, animals, plants, woodland, insects, dolphins and lichens that live in Mid Wales and attract many visitors every year.
One of it’s rarest inhabitants is a female golden eagle in the Tregaron area and he hoped that Mid Wales might in the near future attract a male eagle to give the country its first breeding pair for 450 years.
He mentioned the Dyfi Osprey Project near Machynlleth as an example of wildlife attracting thousands of visitors to the region and said the bottle-nosed dolphins in Cardigan Bay attract tourism business worth £4 million annually.
He welcomed the possibility of beavers being reintroduced to Wales and said they would be another popular attraction. However, he warned that the UK had lost 44 million birds since the 1970s and he was critical that wildlife and the environment continued to suffer in Wales from reduced government funding.
He could not understand why Mount Snowdon attracted 444,000 visitors a year, yet the Mid Wales upland wilderness area of Elenydd, between Abergwesyn and Elan Valley, was often deserted.
“Please look after our wildlife, respect it and make the most of it,” he added. “It’s a valuable resource that we should be tapping into.”
Mr Bell outlined the work of Visit Cornwall and revealed that the county attracts 4.5 million staying visitors annually who spend £1.5 billion. Through sustainable, quality tourism, the organisation seeks to understand and fulfil the dreams of customers.
“We are creating some of the richest memories in people’s lives and it’s all about helping our customers get the best possible experience,” added Mr Bell, who advised delegates to stay in tune with their customers by providing “something real and authentic”.
Mr Hughson, chief executive of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society, encouraged tourism businesses to capitalise on the major events held in Mid Wales, such as the Royal Welsh Show, which attracts 240,000 visitors and contributes £20 million to the economy. The average distance travelled by a person attending the show was 138 miles.
“What the Royal Welsh Show does is pull the ‘Real Mid Wales’ together in on place,” he added. “Forty per cent of the people that come to the show are from a non-agricultural background and we are in the entertainment business.
“There is a real cross over between agriculture and tourism and it’s key that we work together. We need to grasp the opportunities that we have on our doorstep to create lasting memories and experiences.”
Lowri Jones outlined the work and marketing campaigns of Visit Britain to attract more visitors and encouraged Mid Wales tourism businesses to contribute content on the themes of food and drink, luxury, rail and gateways.
Mrs Rossouw spoke about the benefits of Kashing’s complete online payment solution to tourism businesses. She said cashless transactions were predicted to increase to £14.5 billion by 2021.
Mr Taylor highlighted the importance of delegates safeguarding their business with insurance cover against cyber crime and many other possible threats.