Commenting on the publication of the Welsh Government’s Strategy for Tourism 2013 – 2020, Suzy Davies AM, Shadow Minister for Heritage, said:
"There will be agreement on many of the observations underlying this strategy.
"A renewed focus on branding and getting the brand of Wales right, which Welsh Labour Ministers have admitted they have failed to do in the past, is particularly good news.
"The question will be though – who decides what that brand will look like? The recent Visit Wales TV advertising campaign has not raised expectations about the Welsh Government’s ability to decide.
"I also welcome the comments on skills and training. For such an important part of our economy, jobs in tourism are not perceived as highly valued and are not always attractive to our brightest entrepreneurs. So what commitment will the Welsh Government give to financing high-end training?
"This strategy certainly has good ideas; I have been talking about film & TV locations for some time, but it also misses opportunities. Perhaps that comes from consultees being hand-picked by the Minister rather than a full consultation being carried out. Disgruntled tourism operators are still sceptical about a strategy whose targets are too low. They are sceptical about the influence of the voice of a small team within an important government department - especially one which has lost, over time, the expertise it inherited.
"It misses targeted support to small tourism operators and help them expand, which could include cuts to business rates. While no-one would argue with quality product, the strategy does not reflect the potential of the selling the ‘experience’ of visiting Wales, the unique identity of Wales within the UK being part of its offer and an understanding of demand-led rather than product-led market development.
"Tourism experts have told us in a series of forums that they want the Welsh Government to examine the structure of its tourism functions. The planned governance changes do not address the minister’s accountability to the industry. The Welsh Government makes it increasingly difficult for the industry to buy into its tourism branding and strategy, if Ministers fail to engage effectively with the sector in developing its plans.
"And, considering that there is no dedicated tourism strand within the Welsh Government’s budget, it remains virtually impossible to see whether warm words about the value of tourism are backed up with hard cash investment."