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First Minister on NATO summit: Costly but worth it

NATO-logoWELSH First Minister, Carwyn Jones, this week extolled the benefits, despite the cost, of the recent NATO summit held in Newport. He explained that the majority of the costs had fallen to the UK Government as the host state but that the Welsh Government, who had worked in partnership with the UK Government, had spent around the £3m mark. The costs were broken down by the First Minister as two million spent on the security requirements, equipment and man power, and around one million spent on promoting Wales, marketing and advertising and events in London, Brussels and Washington.

He said of the event: “The NATO Wales Summit was the largest event of its kind ever held in the United Kingdom and an unprecedented opportunity to promote Wales globally. The Welsh Government, local authorities, the NHS and a range of other agencies worked with the UK Government and NATO to ensure a safe and memorable summit. “The procurement process for the Summit was led by the UK Government and it is understood that a number of Welsh suppliers secured contracts for the event. In addition, it is understood that 24,000 bedroom nights were reserved for the summit in the cities of Newport, Cardiff and Bristol alone, providing a major boost to the tourism sector in Wales.

“66 delegations attended the Summit, along with 1,500 media from around the world. All major TV news stations in the USA covered the two days in their evening news shows, including coverage of the opening banquet in Cardiff Castle. And, of course, President Obama said on camera, “you can see the extraordinary beauty, the wonderful people and great hospitality, so I’d encourage everybody in the USA to come and visit Wales”. The combined value of this publicity is literally incalculable. “The Welsh Government’s pre and post NATO media releases were picked up by a total of 550 news outlets with an Advertising Value Equivalent of some £900,000. In terms of social media, highlights included the development of a “Welcome to Wales” film, featuring Welsh talent, which has received some 13,000 views to date. The development of our ‘Wales Made’ stamp and hash tag provided Wales with an opportunity to promote Welsh businesses, tourism, food and culture under a common theme for the Summit. This was deployed on twitter both in Wales and through the network of British Embassies overseas.

“The NATO Wales Summit raised the profile of Wales and we capitalised on this through the UK Investment Summit Wales held at the Celtic Manor on 21 November. This brought together global investors, business leaders, the Prime Minister and Ministers from around the world. “At the Investment Summit I announced a package of investment projects receiving Welsh Government support. As I have said on many occasions, the best advertisement for Wales is our investors, who choose to come here because we have the people, the skills, the infrastructure and expertise to compete in the global marketplace. “The NATO Wales Conference presented Wales with a superb opportunity. The Welsh Government worked closely with the UK Government, local authorities, the NHS, police and other agencies to deliver an outstanding conference and other related events. Wales should be proud of its achievement and the reputational benefits to our country will be apparent for years to come”.

Also commenting on the event, was the Secretary of State for Wales, Stephen Crabb, who said: “Every step of the way we have shown Wales’s entrepreneurial ability and spirit. The NATO Summit could not have taken place without the strength and support of Welsh business. World leaders are returning home in no doubt as to the skills, talent and expertise on offer in Wales and the breadth and quality of products and services we provide. Thousands of the world’s media have seen what a beautiful place we live in and our breathtaking landscapes and rich heritage have been seen across the world. Our global profile has never been higher”. He went on to explain what the wider implications were, in terms of the Investment Summit that was brought to Wales in November, saying: “The NATO Summit has put us on the international map and brought a boost to our economy.

I am determined to build on this. The legacy of the NATO Summit must be to promote Wales’s potential as a great place for investment, business, tourism and education. That is why the UK Investment Summit (brought) to Wales in November was so important. Wales is home to some of the most successful international companies in the world. The Investment Summit showcased those businesses to potential new investors to encourage them to also invest in Wales. This conference highlighted why Wales is such a great place to invest. It focussed on the high-tech sector, where we have a growing reputation for excellence.” He added: “I have always been clear that the NATO Summit should bring a lasting economic legacy to Wales. By attracting new investment and growing exports from Wales the Investment Summit will help to secure a stronger economy for Wales”.