The Welsh Government must do more to ensure rural Wales reaps the benefits of an increasing trend of last minute and short-term bookings within the tourism sector.
That’s according to the Welsh Conservatives who - as the Royal Welsh Show continues – have labelled rural Wales as a “gem” of the UK’s tourism offer.
According to the Wales Tourism Business Barometer, there "is a continuing trend for last minute bookings", and bookings "tend to be for shorter periods". Welsh Conservatives believe a clear plan is needed to ensure rural Wales’ tourism operators benefit.
By supporting the delivery of universal broadband, and offering support to fledgling tourist operators and businesses, action can be taken to ensure more people across the UK, and wider world, have opportunities to savour rural Wales' unique tourist offer.
The Party also hopes the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board is empowered to ensure Wales’ unique food offering is utilised to bolster rural tourism.
Recent trends show some positive increases in day visits to Wales. However, some rurally-based tourism attractions have faced a challenging time – and Erddig in Wrexham, and the Cwmcarn Forest Drive & Visitor Centre saw a decline in annual visitors, according to recently-available data.
The announcement follows news that a committee of MPs at Westminster have launched an inquiry into the role of rural tourism in England.
Shadow Secretary responsible for tourism, Russell George AM, said:
“Rural Wales is a gem in the UK’s tourism offer, and it is vital the Welsh Government provides it sufficient support to ensure it can embrace industry trends.
“Tourism habits are changing – and rural tourism is well-placed to benefit from this, but only with the right action plan from Welsh Ministers.
“For many smaller, rural providers, expansion can be a challenge and a lack of sufficient broadband provision curtails promotional activities. A dedicated fund, rewarding tourism providers which recruit new staff or expand, should be at the top of the agenda for the Welsh Government. Meanwhile, removing Visit Wales from Government control could lead to industry-expertise – including in the rural field – being better utilised.
“Furthermore, by prioritising rural broadband provision, and exploring enhanced business rate relief, many businesses can be empowered to grow and do more to attract visitors, and bolster our rural economies.
“Labour's record during the last Assembly was a major cause of concern. From threatening the much-loved tag of ‘Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty’, to presiding over haphazard trends in visitor numbers, many within the sector will be hoping for greater support this time around. As the best of rural Wales gathers for the Royal Welsh Show, it is vital we hear ambitious plans from this new administration for rural tourism.”