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Exciting new vision for Welsh visitor economy

Gweledigaeth gyffrous newydd ar gyfer economi ymwelwyr Cymru

First Minister Mark Drakeford and Deputy Minister for Tourism Lord Elis-Thomas will today unveil an exciting future for the visitor economy in Wales.

The Welsh Government will publish its five-year plan to grow the visitor economy, focusing on Wales’ strengths – its landscapes, culture and places.

The new plan – Welcome to Wales: Priorities for the Visitor Economy 2020-25 – will be backed by two funds to support the industry: A new £10m fund - Brilliant Basics to support the all-important tourism infrastructure which will complement the £50m Wales Tourism Investment Fund focusing on high-quality, reputation-changing products.

Welcome to Wales and the new funding will help to tackle some of the main challenges facing the tourism industry in Wales – seasonality, spend and spread.

Launching the new vision today in Porthcawl, First Minister Mark Drakeford said:

“Over the past decade, tourism in Wales has been transformed, but there’s room for further growth in our visitor economy and we want to support that. 

 “Our new plan, with its priorities, strike the right balance between economic growth and our wider wellbeing as a country. We want to develop high-quality, year-round experiences, which are good for visitors and host communities. Sustainable growth can deliver health, environmental and cultural benefits by protecting and promoting our strengths.

“There are challenges facing the industry, including from Brexit. We believe the best response is to continue with our core business – to recognise tourism’s ongoing potential to act as a bedrock for the Welsh economy in projecting a positive message of and from Wales.”

Welcome to Wales highlights two main ideas of ‘Bro’ and ‘Byd’ – getting tourism right at a local level and ensuring the Welsh tourism offer can compete on the international stage.

The main actions over the next five years include:

  • A £10m fund to invest in Brilliant Basics to support the all-important tourism infrastructure, which is part of delivering a high quality visitor experience from 2020-25.
  • A focus on high quality, reputation-changing products. A £50m Wales Tourism Investment Fund – delivered in partnership with the Development Bank of Wales – to help finance reputation capital investment projects.
  • Building on the success of the Events strategy, Event Wales will be set up to develop, grow and attract cultural, business and sporting events. This recognises the vital all-year role events play in attracting people to Wales.
  • Visit Wales will focus on products and on developing experiences, which reflect Wales’ stand-out strengths as a country.
  • Visit Wales will focus more of marketing efforts on growing off-peak tourism, encouraging people to spend more in Wales and spread the benefit of tourism.
  • Two new themed years will be announced for 2022 and 2024.

Nearly one in 10 people across Wales works in tourism, which brings jobs to people throughout Wales. Tourism is on track to meet the 10% growth target set seven years ago – Wales has welcomed record numbers of UK visitors over the last five years and the value of domestic tourism grew by 14% last year.

Lord Elis-Thomas, Deputy Minister for Culture Sport and Tourism, said: 

“We want to build on our recent success and by 2025 we want to be known as a place that offers world-leading adventure, creative culture and language and outstanding, protected landscapes – and a place that wants to look after them for future generations.

“I’d like to thank the industry for the part it has played in developing this new plan and its priorities. 

“It has been very clear that the long-term growth of our own sector relies on caring for the things that attract people here in the first place. It is also what future markets will expect.”

Notes to editors

Dropbox – including:

  • short form plan of Welcome to Wales: Priorities for the Visitor Economy 2020-25
  • Images from the plan
  • Year of Outdoors campaign film

The full plan and supporting documents will be available on  following the launch.


The launch takes place at the newly opened, Rest Bay Watersports Centre, Porthcawl which is part of  Visit Wales’ Tourism Attractor Destination programme, supported by £2.55m of EU and Welsh Government funding.  Joining the First Minister and Deputy Minister for Tourism will be members of the industry which will also take part in a panel discussion led by adventurer and presenter Lowri Morgan.  The Panel includes: Ben Clifford – Surfability; Paula Ellis - Retreats Group; Tracey Evans – Outdoor Partnership; Andrew Campbell  - Wales Tourism Alliance and Huw Stephens – presenter and DJ

Supportive comments  - Launch Panel members

Paula Ellis – General Manager, Retreats Group: “Wales has immense potential to be recognised as a world class destination. We need to capitalise on our unique sense of place, language and culture, combined with more quality products to raise our profile on a truly international stage. Our success at Retreats Group is attributed to treating our colleagues as our internal guests which has enabled us to address the skills gap in the most challenging of locations. Every guest is be perceived as a PR agent to help us promote the ‘Croeso Cynnes Cymreig’ of this unique Celtic country.”

Tracey Evans – Outdoor Partnership: “Wales is full of opportunities for tourists as well as local people to safely enjoy our great outdoors for health and economic advantages as well as enhancing and supporting the unique culture and history of Wales.” 

Ben Clifford – Surfability, said: “Wales is incredible — all this green and blue space —  and if you’re denied access to that because of a disability,  it’s such a shame. So it’s important that we make those spaces accessible to everyone. Surfing is great physical exercise, and it really connects you to the world around you and the environment. Being present and focused in the moment, while simultaneously being outdoors in the fresh air and exercising — the benefits are incredible.  The techniques we’ve developed in Wales are becoming part of the worldwide standard. Our own community benefits, too. Our volunteers get the chance to work with people in their community, making it a better place.”

Andrew Campbell, Wales Tourism Alliance, said: “Effective engagement between the private and public sectors is hugely important. Success depends on partnership and collaboration, so we need to forge relationships that make the best possible use of resources. The objectives of any priorities plan will be better achieved if we all collaborate closely. We’re all on the same journey together. We need to work in a greener and more environmentally efficient way, but sustainability also means sustaining communities. Tourism creates jobs in places that other industries don’t. This sector deserves to be taken seriously.”

Main aspects of the plan

Outstanding visitor experiences

  • A £10m fund has been announced today to invest in Brilliant Basics to support the all-important tourism infrastructure which is part of delivering a high quality visitor experience.  This funding will also be used to ensure that Wales is an inclusive and accessible destination for all.
  • Visit Wales will work with the industry to support an industry led Tourism Skills Partnership to explore a range of ways to raise status of the sector to future generations of workers.

World Class Products and places

  • A £50m Wales Tourism Investment Fund (WTIF) – delivered in partnership with the Development Bank of Wales – will help finance reputation capital investment projects.
  • In recognition of the vital role events play in in attracting people to Wales and building on the success of our Events Strategy we will establish Event Wales to also encompass business events.  An ‘Event Wales’ conference in the spring of 2020 will be an opportunity to engage further with the sector, in order to help shape the future and take account of an ongoing independent review of the events criteria
  • Visit Wales will move to focus on products and on developing experiences that reflect Wales’s stand-out strengths as a country - these are Outstanding Natural Landscapes, Creative Culture and Epic Adventure.  Initially the focus will be on the Wales Coast Path, Offa’s Dyke and National Trails; Golf; Heritage Tourism and Film and TV; Mountain Biking and Cycling.

An Innovative Cymru Wales Brand

  • We will continue to deliver a bold and integrated brand for Wales, harnessing tourism’s potential to present Wales to the world as a welcoming, vibrant destination.
  • Visit Wales will commit resources to ensuring that digital first marketing efforts are focused on growing off-peak tourism, encouraging people to spend more in Wales and is spreading the benefit of tourism and tackling over-tourism by inspiring visitors to discover more of Wales.
  • Visit Wales will launch a major new campaign for Wales for the next 3–5 years and announce new themed years for 2022 and 2024.

An engaged and vibrant sector 

We will recognise, coordinate and harness the contribution a wide range of partners can make.