THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY FOR WALES
It is clear that Wales does not generally enjoy a
high profile overseas and it appears that the reasons for this
are multiple and complex. It may be inevitable that a small country
such as Wales is less prominent internationally than its larger
neighbours, but it is nonetheless a source of concern if it means
that Wales is losing out on the cultural and economic benefits
which widespread international recognition brings (paragraph 9).
We are pleased that WalesTrade International and
Trade Partners UK are working well together (paragraph 15).
For small businesses, there is a limit to the amount
of time and money they can invest in a project before receiving
funding and we are concerned that delays in the distribution of
Objective 1 funds may lead to some projects led by small and medium-sized
enterprises being lost entirely. Objective 1 funds in Wales are
distributed by the Wales European Funding Office (WEFO), an executive
agency of the National Assembly for Wales. We invite the Assembly
to examine the resources available to WEFO for administering the
Objective 1 budget (paragraph 17).
British Trade International is still a young organisation
but there is encouraging evidence that since its creation relations
between the WDA and I-UK have been better than those with I-UK's
predecessor, the Invest in Britain Bureau. We accept that Invest-UK's
role is to maximise the total amount of investment in the UK and
this emphasises the importance of promoting Wales abroad, alongside
the UK as a whole. This is largely a matter for the National Assembly
for Wales and its sponsored public bodies (paragraph 20).
We believe that Wales's poor share of the overseas
tourist market is largely due to the country's poor recognition
overseas (paragraph 27).
The budget for the Wales Tourist Board is a matter
for the National Assembly for Wales. We record the concern that
was expressed to us, that the resources available to the WTB to
spend on overseas marketing may not be commensurate with those
available to other tourist boards in the UK (paragraph 31).
We welcome the proposal to establish four Regional
Tourism Partnerships, and in particular the fact that the devolution
of responsibilities will be accompanied by a devolution of funding.
However, we are concerned that the move from central to regional
tourism promotion for Wales will make it more difficult to promote
strong "brands" in the international market, and that
there is a danger that an element of competition will creep into
the relationships between the RTPs. These are factors which will
need to be monitored closely from the centre, by the WTB and the
National Assembly (paragraph 32).
We recommend that the BTA and the WTB should develop
a strategy for promoting Wales as a first-choice destination for
foreign visitors to the UK. This should involve working with tour
operators which bring foreign tourists into the country to try
to persuade them to include Wales on more of their itineraries,
and working with UK transport providers (such as the train operating
companies) to promote the provision of efficient, affordable transport
links between Wales and other UK tourist destinations (paragraph
We welcome the creation by the Assembly of Cymru'n
Creu, which aims to meet the kind of concerns about poor coordination
expressed by many of our witnesses. It will be important for UK
Government departments, and bodies such as UK Sport, the BTA and
the British Council, to forge strong links with the consortium,
as well as directly with their Welsh counterparts (paragraph 41).
The membership of, and involvement in, Cymru'n Creu
is a matter for the National Assembly for Wales. It is important
as a matter of principle that key players are not excluded from
initiatives such as the Cultural Consortium because they do not
fit some pre-determined set of criteria for participation (paragraph
One of the objectives of the Welsh Language Board
is to raise awareness of the Welsh language outside Wales and
to foster and promote the exchange of information and experience
in the areas of language and culture between Wales and similar
linguistic communities abroad. We believe that this is an important
objective (paragraph 50).
Promoting Wales within the UK is an essential prerequisite
to promoting Wales in the rest of the world. We must overcome
ignorant and inaccurate stereotypes in Wales and the UK. The Assembly
and the Wales Office both have a key role to play, but so do other
Government departments and public bodies such as the DTI, the
DfEE, the Office for National Statistics and the BBC (paragraph
There are clear advantages to Wales from being included
under the auspices of the international work of the UK Government.
Equally, there are clear advantages of the Assembly and its sponsored
public bodies carrying out independent promotional work. How effectively
Wales is promoted abroad will depend largely on the strength of
the working links between the Welsh and UK bodies, and maintaining
and strengthening those relationships should be the top priority
for all those concerned, though it should not be done in such
a way as to restrict the Assembly's ability to pursue different
policies and strategies from the Government (paragraph 60).
We welcome the inclusion of a provision for secondments
between the National Assembly and the FCO in the Concordat on
International Relations, but we do not believe that it goes far
enough. The Government should actively encourage secondments between
UK public bodies and their Welsh counterparts of all kinds and
at all levels. The new target for the proportion of senior civil
servants who have experience outside the civil service is welcome
and we recommend that, for the purposes of evaluating whether
or not the target has been met, secondments from the main Whitehall
departments to the National Assembly for Wales and its sponsored
public bodies should count as experience outside the civil service.
We recommend that the Government should introduce a target for
the proportion of UK posts overseas which have at least one member
of staff who has some direct experience of working for the Assembly
or another public body in Wales. This should apply not just to
embassies and consulates but to offices of bodies such as the
BTA and British Council (paragraph 63).
Training and briefing on Wales and Welsh issues is
important for those overseas-based staff who are not able to undertake
secondments. Wherever possible, the Government should arrange
such training in conjunction with the National Assembly (paragraph
It should be recognised that participation by Assembly
Ministers and officials in UK negotiating teams in Europe serves
not only to ensure that Wales's interests are taken into account
in the negotiations, but to raise its profile on the European
stage (paragraph 65).
One way of expanding the coverage of each of the
ASPBs would be to establish a single "brand" (perhaps
including a common name and logo) which would enable overseas
offices of ASPBs effectively to act as "Welsh embassies"
providing a first stop for access to the full range of services
provided by the Assembly and the relevant services provided by
the UK Government. In the majority of cases, this might involve
little more than fielding and forwarding queries or distributing
other organisations' literature, but the existence of a single,
easily identifiable brand identity would help to promote a clear,
strong image abroad (paragraph 66).
We welcome the Assembly's commitment to identifying
prominent Welsh people who are willing to act as informal "ambassadors"
for Wales (paragraph 69).
The provision of genealogical research services to
those outside the UK, especially via the internet, is a promising
way of reaching out to the Welsh community in the world, bringing
them back into contact with their home country and helping to
bolster the Welsh identity of second and subsequent generation
emigrants. This is something which should be borne in mind when
the Government and Assembly are considering funding for genealogical
services (paragraph 71).
We commend the National Assembly for Wales on the
range of information which it has made available on the internet,
including initiatives such as "Wales world nation" which
are specifically aimed at the international market (paragraph