Tourism and hospitality businesses across Mid Wales are being encouraged to work with Visit Wales to bring more international visitors to the region.
A sell-out Mid Wales Tourism Conference, held at the Metropole Hotel and Spa, Llandrindod Wells, heard that international tour operators are keen to bring visitors to the region.
Recognised for its culture, adventure, landscape, history and heritage, Mid Wales is being marketed by Visit Wales to countries France, Germany, Netherlands, USA and Ireland.
“Tour operators need accommodation partners and bookable attractions and experiences in Mid Wales, which have an opportunity to grow international business,” said Val Hawkins, MBE, chief executive of MWT Cymru, which organised the conference.
She also encouraged businesses to use the digital platform Tourism Exchange Great Britain and engage with travel media to attract domestic and international visitors.
Following the conference, Deputy Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Dawn Bowden said: “Mid Wales Tourism’s Annual Conference followed a series of four well attended Visit Wales Industry Roadshows where we heard from businesses and organisations across Wales.
“We see a real opportunity to grow international business to Mid Wales. We know the role that tour operators, tourism media and Tourism Exchange Great Britain can play in generating more potential business, especially internationally, which fits our tourism strategy to support seasonality, spread and spend.
“We urge interested Mid Wales providers of accommodation, attractions and experiences to work with Visit Wales and Wales-based operators to attract more international visitors.”
Steve Hughson, chairman of both the Mid Wales Regional Tourism Forum and the Event Wales Industry Advisory Group, highlighted the value of events to the Welsh economy, the tourism and hospitality sectors and local communities.
In a rallying call to Mid Wales tourism businesses, he added: “We have a hugely successful offer here, so let’s ensure that we build a strong partnership between tourism, hospitality and rural affairs that makes a positive impact on Mid Wales.”
The strong link between tourism and farming, and their importance to the Mid Wales economy and local communities, was also emphasised by Mrs Hawkins.
She revealed that MWT Cymru, a not for profit company which represents around 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and Southern Snowdonia, has secured funding from the UK Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund for an innovative digital project that is at its infancy.
The community-focussed project will seek to incentivise shopping in small, independent, town centre businesses across Powys. Partner towns are now being sought for the pilot project.
“There is a strong link between tourism and farming in Mid Wales and if one of these sectors struggles, then it impacts local communities,” said Mrs Hawkins. “The visitor economy is very much linked to local economy and we have looked at how we can better support our local communities to become more sustainable.
“MWT Cymru has developed a reputation for being ahead of the game in terms of technology and I would like to think we are doing the same again with this new project which will help not just the tourism industry but small, independent businesses in local towns as well.”
Other speakers at the conference, themed ‘Embracing Tomorrow’s Tourism: Communities, Innovation and Business’, included Guy Edwards, manager of MWT Cymru’s new project and Charles Symons, co-founder of Buzzmint, who spoke about the opportunities for empowering connected communities and circular economies using Web 3.0.
In a section titled ‘Empowering businesses with practical solutions’, Rhys Mullan from Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, spoke about fire safety law, Ruth Partridge, WRAP Cymru project manager, spoke about recycling and waste management law changes and Gareth Jones, chartered accountant, spoke about revenue management with some cost saving advice.
MWT Cymru chairman Rowland Rees-Evans congratulated Mrs Hawkins on being awarded an MBE in the King’s Birthday Honours and thanked her for her hard work for the company over the past 24 years.