Tourism marketing in Wales 'must double', says industry expert
The amount spent on marketing Wales as a tourist destination should be "at least doubled" to improve the chances of attracting overseas visitors, says an industry expert.
Prof Annette Pritchard said Visit Wales is competing against others in the UK who are "far more resourced".
Visit Scotland spent £47.5m in 2013/14 on marketing and Visit Wales £7m.
The Welsh government says it is on target to exceed 10% tourism growth by 2020.
Prof Pritchard, director of the Welsh Centre for Tourism Research at Cardiff Metropolitan University, was speaking on the first anniversary of the launch of the Welsh government's tourism strategy.
She said the now defunct Wales Tourist Board had a marketing budget of £50m in 2006 - half from the Welsh government and half from European funding.
In 2013/14, Tourism Ireland's marketing budget was £36m. Visit Britain's was £36m and Visit England's £11m.
Since 2006 the professor says the decline in spending on marketing has coincided with "a decline in the number [of tourists] coming to Wales, particularly in the overseas market where Wales is much less well-known than in the domestic market," according to Prof Pritchard.
"I'm very surprised at the disparities in funding - I expected that the funding had declined but I expected that the funding would have declined across the board in the UK so we would be basically playing on a level field."
"But obviously we're not playing on a level playing field - Visit Wales is really competing in a very different market and all its major competitors are far more resourced," she said.
A YEAR ON, ARE PEOPLE COMING TO WALES?
- In 2013 Wales welcomed 884,000 visits from overseas
- This was 4% up on 2012
- These visits were worth £353m to the economy.
- The value of business generated by the top 100 tour operators to Wales has grown by approximately 28% since 2012
- Wales has specific websites to attract tourists from Germany, North America, France, Netherlands and Spain
- Visit Wales launched a £4m multi-media campaign targeting the UK and Ireland, including markets in south east England and London, and within Wales.
Source: Welsh government
This week Tourism Minister Edwina Hart told AMs the first year of the strategy had been very successful - with increased numbers of visitors from abroad, the first time since 2006.
She told AMs that the tourism sector had "seen a rate of growth above that needed to achieve the [Welsh government's] aim of growing tourism in Wales by 10% by 2020".
"Over the past year, Visit Wales has reassessed its marketing and launched a new campaign for the UK and Ireland," said Mrs Hart.
The Welsh government says the Have You Packed For Wales marketing campaign was already achieving its response targets.
She said the Visit Wales website has also been re-developed and is delivering higher traffic than ever before.
There had been 300 media visits resulting in coverage worth £35m.