Wales Tourism Week 2023
Wales Tourism Week 2023 - Report...
Sustainable Solutions and Self-Catering!
Wales Tourism Week is a private sector led opportunity to raise awareness of the issues impacting our industry, but it is also a time to showcase the quality of our offer. This year saw a wide range of support from over 15 events hosted across the industry which then culminated in a well-attended annual reception at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay (17th May 2023).
The week was kicked off early...on the 11th May, when self-caterers, Geoff and Sarah Haden welcomed ITV’s Rural Affairs Correspondent, Hannah Thomas to Clyne Farm to discuss some of the challenges facing tourism in Wales. They also went on to be interviewed by Caroline Evans from Country Focus on BBC Radio Wales (18th May). Adrian Greason-Walker spoke on the Claire Summers Breakfast Show, Radio Wales (16th May) on the impact of regulation and taxation on self-caterers. Suzy Davies, Chair of the Wales Tourism Alliance was interviewed on by BBC Radio Cymru on Monday (15th May). All of the above with a bit of searching can be found on catch up TV and Radio.
Wales Tourism Week is primarily an opportunity to engage politicians and decision makers across the sector. For example, (20th May) the Clwydian Range Tourism Group (CRTG), a local destination organisation of tourism businesses within and surrounding the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB, hosted regional Senedd Members for North Wales, welcoming Mark Isherwood MS to visit tourism businesses in Cefn Mawr and Llangollen.
Regional DMO MWT Cymru (Mid Wales Tourism) organised a meeting at Penrhos Park, Llanrhystud, near Aberystwyth, welcoming Ceredigion MP Ben Lake and Ceredigion County Council leader, Councillor Bryan Davies to meet with businesses from the tourism and hospitality sectors. The meeting was hosted by Rowland Rees-Evans, a director of Penrhos Park and chairman of MWT Cymru, who said: “As a company, we are always seeking to engage with politicians and we are grateful to Ben Lake and Cllr Bryan Davies for taking the time to listen to our concerns. If anybody can help us with current and future challenges it’s the politicians who are the decision-makers. This was an opportunity, during Welsh Tourism Week, to promote our industry which is a major part of the Ceredigion and Mid Wales economies.”
Issues discussed included Welsh Government taxation of self-catering accommodation, a proposed tourism levy, the impact of the Covid pandemic and cost of living crisis, the role of local authorities in promoting tourism, hospitality recruitment and development of the region’s road and rail infrastructure. Cllr Davies welcomed the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with local tourism businesses, MWT Cymru leaders and Mr Lake.
The Deputy Minister, who has recently assumed responsibility for tourism issues within the Welsh Government, Dawn Bowden MS, visited Pembrokeshire’s Bluestone Resort (Member of the WTA) to meet some of the staff and get a preview of the resort’s new developments for the summer. The Deputy Minister then went on to address the industry at the Wales Tourism Alliance reception at the Senedd on the 17th May. Speaking ahead of the event, the Deputy Minister said:
“During Wales Tourism Week, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the sector here in Wales. I know how hard the industry works to ensure everyone who visits Wales returns home with great memories. It is incredibly important we continue to work together and I look forward to continuing the conversation with the sector on how we do just that, to ensure Wales continues to be celebrated as a world class tourist destination.”
Suzy Davies, Chair of the Wales Tourism Alliance drew, the reception’s audience including assembled Members of the Senedd to the plight of the self-catering sector: ‘A discretionary spend industry is more vulnerable to these macro-economic shocks than some. What is does not need are additional burdens, bespoke for Wales, which is already less competitive and less well-funded by its government than the other nations of the UK and Ireland.
The professional self-catering sector, as we know, has had a real corner to fight this year. Not just from the competition from casual letting of second homes and pop-ups, but the 182-day rule. Uncertainty is rife because registration of all visitor accommodation is now framed as “licensing”. And, of course, there’s the levy on visitor accommodation, all of which impacts in the wider tourism ecosystem. The point I want to make here is this. Despite an enormous input of evidence to Welsh Government, this industry has not felt heard’.
Suzy went on to state: ‘We want to see that we are all heard, not just those who have convenient views. Heard on the detail of the design of these new policies. In the say on how money raised is spent. In reviews of these policies, their impact and the action taken’.
Suzy, also pointed to a reset in the relationship between industry and the Welsh Government and praised the Deputy Minister’s initial meetings with the industry and hoped that this would deliver better results moving forward.
Finally, Adrian Greason-Walker met David Davies MP, the Secretary of State for Wales at Grade 1 listed Country House Treowen with owner and self-caterer, John Wheelock from Historic Houses Cymru. Again, top of the agenda was discussion about the impact of the Welsh Government’s reforms on the tourism industry at large, but particularly self-catering and non-devolved issues such as reducing VAT and heritage maintenance funds.
So, whilst it was generally an annual celebration of tourism in Wales, the week also gives us a valuable opportunity to raise the threats to our industry with our political community – 2022/23 has been no exception!
The #theexperiencemakers – which is a skills and recruitment campaign to support the sector was very much focused on during the week. The campaign actively targets young people – school leavers, students and those unsure about their future career also young adults who may be looking for flexible working around e.g childcare and older adults looking for part-time work or a career change. The message of the campaign is to join the experience makers. The campaign is delivered in partnership with Working Wales Work in hospitality and tourism | Working Wales (gov.wales) – which provides one simple route for young people aged 16-24 in Wales to access the Young Person’s Guarantee offer.
Six Case further study films have been developed as part of the campaign and can be viewed on the campaign page, highlighting real people working in the sector, as well as how-to films which have been shared through social media, including Working Wales’s platforms, Tik Tok and Instagram using #theexperiencemakers. If you are a business that is able to share best practice on changes to recruitment and working practices and information and support to help train and develop staff, using the Flexible Skills Programme, please follow the link here: Skills & Recruitment | Business Wales (gov.wales).
Our Support Pack for arranging your week's meet and greet event can be downloaded from here: