Tourism call to cash in on weak pound in Wales

Caernarfon CastleImage source, Rajeev Peeka
Image caption,
Wales' 2017 Year of Legends marketing campaign aims to promote heritage and culture

Wales could miss out on a large increase in overseas tourists expected to visit the UK in the coming months, according to an expert.

A weak pound is expected to make the UK a more attractive holiday destination, especially with American and Canadian holidaymakers.

But Prof Brian Garrod said more spending in marketing was needed along with improving Wales' tourism offer.

The Welsh Government said Wales' tourism had seen record-breaking years.

But Prof Garrod said: "We have really good hotels here in Wales but we don't have the best.

"While we have some good theme parks in Wales, we don't have the best and we're always competing against our neighbours in England and Scotland."

Prof Garrod from Aberystwyth University's Business School added: "We need to do a bit more to attract people to Wales, especially from overseas.

"We need to redouble our marketing efforts. We need to think a bit more about investing in making Wales known."

'Strong position'

Prof Garrod, a member of the Tourism Society, the group representing the sector, claimed Visit Wales spent about £10m on marketing each year whereas Scotland invested about £55m.

"A lot of foreign visitors know a lot about Scotland and head up to Edinburgh and Glasgow and the Highlands and leave Wales out of their itinerary," he said.

"They just don't know about us."

Economy Secretary Ken Skates said "tourism in Wales was in a strong position".

He highlighted the International Passenger Survey, published by the Office for National Statistics, which showed Wales received 856,000 overseas visitors in the first nine months of 2016, up 12% on 2015.

Image source, Welsh Government

Wales also recorded a 9% increase in expenditure compared to 2015.

Mr Skates also highlighted opportunities this year with the launch of the 2017 Year of Legends campaign, a Welsh Government promotion to sell Wales' culture and heritage.

"Campaign work continues to convert early interest and opportunities from the weak pound into bookings for the summer," he said.

Prof Garrod said the Year of Legends was an opportunity to cash in on Wales' castles with research showing over 40% of overseas visitors knowing about them.

"This is a good move," he added, referring to the campaign.