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  • Writer's pictureFranck Banza

The Untapped Power of Supporting the Visitor Economy

As I stood before the Spring Welsh Conference in Cardiff on March 2nd, proposing amendments to support the visitor economy, little did I know that our collective voice would resonate so strongly. The motion, now passed with the proposed amendments, marks a crucial step towards realising Wales' untapped potential in tourism. Yet, beyond the conference hall, lies a deeper narrative—one of unexplored opportunities and the urgency for policy reform.

Wales, with its breathtaking landscapes and rich cultural heritage, stands poised to welcome the world. However, our potential remains largely untapped, obscured by a lack of visibility and strategic investment. The recent data on international inbound visits and spend to Wales only underscores this reality.

In 2022, Wales witnessed a significant decline in both inbound visits and spend compared to 2019 figures, with visitor numbers lagging behind other UK regions. Despite no travel restrictions, visits to Wales plummeted by 33%, coupled with a 24% decrease in spending. The figures speak volumes—our visitor economy is in urgent need of revitalisation.

Take Gower, for instance—a gem waiting to be discovered. By leveraging its natural beauty and cultural heritage, we can create a thriving tourism ecosystem that not only generates revenue but also fosters local economic growth. Decent jobs in the tourism sector can address pressing issues like youth migration, empowering young people to stay and contribute to their communities.

However, for Wales to realise its full potential, we need more than just picturesque landscapes. We need politicians who champion business creation and promotion, who actively engage with industry stakeholders to understand their needs and challenges. These policymakers must be proactive in creating policies that facilitate business growth and innovation, fostering an environment where entrepreneurs thrive.

Moreover, listening to the voices of those working in the tourism industry is paramount. These individuals possess invaluable insights and firsthand experience, which can inform policy decisions and shape strategic interventions. By collaborating with industry professionals, policymakers can craft targeted initiatives that address key bottlenecks and unlock growth opportunities.

Strategic investments in infrastructure, marketing, and skills development are imperative to attract visitors and ensure Wales remains a competitive destination. Moreover, sustainable and regenerative tourism practices must be at the forefront of our agenda, protecting our environment while enhancing the visitor experience.

Let us seize this moment to unlock Wales' potential, for in doing so, we pave the way for a brighter, more prosperous future.

Together, let us make Wales a destination of choice, where every visitor leaves with memories as rich and vibrant as our culture and landscapes.

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