Wales 'undersold' overseas as tourist destination, say MPs
Wales is being undersold as a tourist destination and needs a coherent brand, a committee of MPs has said.
The number of international tourists declined from 1.14m in 2006 to 854,000 by 2012, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
But the Welsh government said there was a "very significant" rise in visitors.
The ONS said Wales was ahead of only the north east of England and Northern Ireland in 2013 for visitors from abroad to the UK in 2013.
But according to the report, International Representation and Promotion of Wales by UK Bodies, Wales boasts "some of the most spectacular landscape in Britain and Europe", has a "unique culture, language and history, dynamic cities" and "offers a range of activities and a high quality of life".
The document says Wales is a "natural destination for the growing market of cultural and environmental tourists".
"We are therefore concerned that Wales still has a low profile overseas compared to other parts of the UK and attracts the third smallest number of international visitors of any UK 'region'," the MPs say.
Wales needs to be marketed "much more vigorously" the MPs said as it lacks a "coherent brand" for overseas markets and needs a "strong and clear narrative about Wales' historic and modern aspects and its attraction for tourists".
The report recommends that the tourist promotion agencies Visit Wales and Visit Britain should "work together to develop a strategy, by February 2015, for promoting Wales as a first choice destination for international visitors to the UK".
It also urges Visit Britain to set "clear, measurable targets for encouraging international tourists to different parts of the UK".
The report was published as the ONS released figures indicating the number of overseas visitors to Wales increased by 21% in the first six months of 2014.
The statistics, from the International Passenger Survey, indicated there were 415,000 international visitors to Wales between January and June.
VisitBritain has said it welcomes the report's findings.
"Early indications are that 2014 could be a record year for international tourism to Wales and I'm delighted that we are starting to see the results of the excellent work the two organisations have undertaken in recent times," said CEO Sally Balcombe.
"VisitBritain will continue to work closely with VisitWales and make sure these six month figures are built upon, in order to deliver sustained growth over many years."
The Welsh government said: "Most recent international visitor and inward investment figures for Wales speak for themselves and demonstrate that our current strategies are delivering strong results for Wales."
"Our approach to marketing Wales overseas has been refocused and now concentrates on the three key markets identified as having the highest potential for growth - Germany, USA and Ireland," said the spokesman.