Welsh Conservatives announce plan to deliver tourism ‘boom’
The Party is pledging to “promote Wales to the rest of the UK, and the world” and put industry expertise “in the driving seat”.
The announcement follows hugely worrying statistics for Wales which show, under Labour, day visits to Wales by British residents have fallen by one fifth. Key stakeholders have also identified missed opportunities by Labour to utilise innovative markets, including wildlife tourism – highlighting the need for an industry-led approach.
Welsh Conservatives have unveiled a five-point plan for the tourism industry, and outlined a commitment to introduce a Tourism Bill as a core tenet of their legislative programme.
Visit Wales, under the Welsh Conservatives, would be removed from government control and operate at arm’s-length – ending government interference.
A new fund would also be established, offering grants to small and medium-sized operators, helping them expand and grow. Firms would be able to bid for the grants, administered by the new arm’s-length body, in exchange for up-skilling, or taking on new staff.
Suzy Davies, candidate in South Wales West – who speaks for the Party on matters pertaining to tourism – said:
“A decline in visits to Wales by British residents highlights the need of a change of emphasis. The people that know best in attracting tourists to Wales is the industry itself – and it is time to put the experts in the driving seat.
“We’d remove Visit Wales from government control; freeing it both from the shackles of bureaucracy and Labour’s ‘safety first’ approach.
“Working with the industry, Welsh Conservatives would unashamedly promote Wales to international markets, and support the development of specific, sector-led strategies for seaside towns, religious heritage, film and TV locations and genealogy.
“We’d also support long-term, sustainable careers in tourism, helping retain quality jobs and promote the sector as a high-quality career opportunity in Wales.
“The time has come to ensure this billion-pound industry fulfils its full potential – creating new jobs and ensuring we better promote Wales to the rest of the UK, and the world."
Welsh Conservatives Leader, Andrew RT Davies, said:
"We know many tourist operators struggle with costs such as VAT bills, and a Welsh Conservative Government would provide a dedicated fund, helping small and medium-sized operators grow, expand, and meet costs.
“Meanwhile, our dedicated Tourism Bill will enshrine, in law, an independent, expert-led approach to boosting tourism into Wales, and deliver a mechanism that ensures local communities are involved in promoting visitor experiences.
“We have so much to be proud of, and with a renewed emphasis on attracting visitors to Wales, we can see our seas swell, beaches throng and mountains move.
“Whilst the sector faces challenges, in Wales, we have tremendous potential to ensure Wales is a world-leader, promoting our castles, seaside towns, growing cities, and stunning landscapes. Under a Welsh Conservative Government, the industry would be freed from government interference, unleashing Wales’ potential as a world-leader in tourism, securing real change and delivering a boom for the sector."
Welsh Conservatives will also pledge to safeguard ‘Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ – following Labour plans to ditch the well-respected title, which plays a pivotal role in attracting tourists to Wales. Gower’s AONB status was threatened by Labour plans to place the area under new designation.
Candidate for Gower, Lyndon Jones, added:
“For Gower, like many other parts of Wales, the AONB tag was a badge of honour, and something that helps promote our local area.
“Placing this under threat showed utter contempt for the local area, and our tourist trade, by the Labour Party.
“Welsh Conservatives support our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and would ensure their protection as part of an industry-led approach – offering invaluable support to Gower, and other beautiful tourist sites, across the country.”
A Welsh Conservative Government will:
- Introduce a capped fund for small and medium-sized tourism businesses, helping them to manage VAT bills and sustain quality jobs
- Remove Visit Wales from Welsh Government control to operate at arm’s-length, attracting expertise and introducing an industry-led approach to the visitor economy
- Work with industry to market Wales to both UK and global tourism markets, realising our nation's potential as a tourist destination
- Support the development of visitor strategies for seaside towns, religious heritage, film and TV locations and genealogy
- Work with employers and educators to improve the image of the tourism sector as a place for a challenging and rewarding career path