NOTE: This content is old - Published: Friday, Jul 5th, 2013.
North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood is concerned that north east Wales is losing out on thousands of potential visitors every year because it is not being marketed effectively by the Welsh Government.
Speaking in today’s Assembly Debate on the Rural Economy, Mr Isherwood noted that an estimated 50% of all UK visitors to Wales visit the countryside, yet the word rural is mentioned just once in the Welsh Government’s new Tourism Strategy document.
He said that tourism is worth some £166million per annum to Flintshire alone, sustaining jobs and supporting the rural economy, yet the county is poorly represented in tourism brochures and guides.
He said: “Flintshire Tourism Association was established to deliver joined up working in north east Wales and improve the North Wales borderlands brand and image. North-east Wales is within the reach of 15.5 million potential visitors – a bigger pot than even Cardiff can call upon.
It needs to be marketed far more in the midlands and north-west of England accordingly.
“Only last weekend, a Caravan Club Site Owner in Flintshire told me that that although overseas visitors love what Flintshire offers, too few knew about it because it was poorly represented in promotional literature.”
Mr Isherwood criticised the Welsh Government for not effectively promoting the Pontcysyllte world heritage site as a tourist attraction.
He said: “During the last Assembly, the then Minister developed the north-east Wales cultural action plan, designed, among other things, to establish a programme for the Pontcysyllte world heritage site as an attractor, and the basis for tourism, cultural and wider development projects.
“ However only this week, key stakeholders have raised questions with me over whether the Pontcysyllte aqueduct as a regeneration site and tourism area has high enough profile and expressed concern that there wasn’t a clear coordinated group championing the Aqueduct, that there wasn’t a named person associated with the Aqueduct and that there was a lack of progress with all parties engaged in the Aqueduct and Trevor basin in moving the regeneration opportunities forward.
“The North Wales Economic Ambition Board stated in April that there seem to be good working relationships developing with officials from Welsh Government, but added that at a recent meeting of lead members from across Wales in Cardiff, there was concern as to lack of commitment and understanding from Welsh Government when it comes to the regional boards.”
Mr Isherwood also stressed that disability groups have said that Tourism can be increased if Wales is seen by overseas and domestic visitors as an accessible, welcoming holiday destination – but that Arfon Access Group, which has been carrying out a review of the Visit Wales website and local authority marketing materials regarding appropriate information for disabled people to be able to plan visits to places of interest around Wales, advises that even before they have completed the work, it is becoming clear that little such information has been incorporated.