Tourism makes a significant contribution to the Welsh economy, providing employment for around 12% of the Welsh workforce. However, Wales significantly underperforms in attracting international visitors in comparison to the rest of the UK. In 2019, the UK received 41 million international visitors, who spent a total of £28.4 billion. However, only 1.02 million international tourists visited Wales, spending £514.6 million—2% of the total UK spend—while 3.46 million international tourists visited Scotland.
Throughout our inquiry, we identified several key themes and issues that will need to be rectified if Wales is to take a greater share of the tourism market in the UK. Our Report therefore makes the following conclusions and recommendations:
Wales has a low profile overseas and attracts a small proportion of the international visitors coming to the UK. There is a lack of awareness of Wales’ strengths as a holiday destination. Wales lacks a coherent brand for the overseas market. Marketing of Wales must be stronger, with a clear theme devised to attract international tourists based on Wales’ unique strengths and attractions.
We recommend that VisitBritain and Visit Wales work together to develop a strategy, by February 2024, for promoting Wales as a first-choice destination for international visitors to the UK. A key aspect of this should be the development of a distinctive brand that raises awareness of Wales that can be used consistently to help market Wales and to raise awareness of its location as a holiday destination.
Role of VisitBritain
It is important that UK Government bodies responsible for promoting Wales abroad reflect the distinct identity of each part of the UK in their activities. We are not convinced that VisitBritain is achieving all it can on behalf of Wales. We heard criticism of the UK Government’s GREAT campaign in promoting Wales. We remain to be convinced that Wales has benefited from the campaign. VisitBritain should make improvements to better reflect Wales as a distinct location, and report to us on progress made by February 2024.
Wales is often not included in UK holiday packages offered by tour operators. When developing a joint strategy to promote Wales as a distinct destination, we recommend that VisitBritain and Visit Wales encourage tour operators to include Wales in UK holiday packages. We expect VisitBritain to report its progress on this issue by February 2024.
VisitBritain does not sufficiently promote Wales in its marketing materials, nor does it make a focused offering to international tourists of Wales’ attractions. We recommend that VisitBritain improves its website to better market Wales overseas. We expect VisitBritain to report to us on its progress by February 2024.
We are concerned that poor transport infrastructure has a negative impact on Wales’ ability to attract a greater share of international tourists who arrive into the UK. Transport infrastructure has been underfunded by the UK and Welsh Governments for a number of years. Transport infrastructure spending must be regarded with higher priority.
We call on the UK Government and the Welsh Government to recognise the importance of transport to the tourism industry. We urge the UK Government and the Welsh Government to bring forward proposals to address these issues, focused on the potential positive impact on tourism. The UK Government and Welsh Government must look creatively at ways to fund transport infrastructure projects.
Download the full report here.