Friday, 1 March 2013

Looking forward to 2020

In the years when I took my 3 children to hotels for holidays, Llandrindod Wells and the Metropole Hotel was a favourite. It was a great place from which to explore Wales and I found the Victorian architecture and their Victorian themed festivals enchanting. I returned last week to meet all the "higher ups" from Visit Wales, Cardiff for the launch of the draft Welsh Government Strategy for Tourism 2013 - 2020. The minister has yet to give her approval but I can reveal that the overarching theme is the partnership approach. Hopefully this means that the Welsh Government will be working alongside us to tackle the strategic challenges that we still face. There is an admission that innovation is going to be vital and the next time that I am told off for breaking the mould or rocking the boat I am going to quote the words of this document "doing things differently is a pre-requisite for further success".

We are also promised an annual action plan and a focus on key overseas markets which are taken to be Germany and the USA, and, surprisingly, Ireland. In the early years of our business I made many attempts to do business in Ireland. After all, it is the place next door and it has good ferry links and it looked like a rich country. However, I soon realised that the airport links from Ireland to the Rest Of The World were brilliant as the Celtic Tiger had built airport after airport. The Irish and the Welsh countryside and climate are remarkably similar, and there was simply no tradition of going to Wales as a destination for holidays. I attended a number of Visit Wales promotional visits and the Outdoor Ireland exhibition in Dublin. I even did a deal with a local Irish newspaper to sponsor a reader offer of a walking weekend in Beddgelert at the Royal Goat. Nothing seemed to sell, even when the Irish had money. Now they clearly haven't (following the property crash, the banking collapse and the virtual bankruptcy of the Irish Government) it is going to be even more difficult.

However, we will be working in partnership with Visit Wales and we are working on a scheme to bring German walking tour operators to Wales this spring.

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