Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 19

Memorandum submitted by the Wales Tourist Board

1.  BACKGROUND

1.1  The Value of Tourism to Wales

  Tourism is a major contributor to the Welsh economy. Tourism touches peoples lives in many ways:

    —  £2 billion worth of direct visitor expenditure.

    —  7 per cent contribution to GDP in Wales.

    —  10 per cent of jobs in Wales.

    —  Income to a wide range of businesses.

    —  A wider impact through the multiplier.

    —  Opportunities in town and country.

    —  Support for the environment, culture and heritage of Wales.

    —  Support for local services and facilities.

    —  A boost to the image of Wales.

  However, the factors that effect demand for tourism are changing rapidly and as tourism in Wales experiences structural change, investment in the development and marketing is required in order to maintain Wales' competitiveness.

1.2  The Potential of Overseas Tourism

  Overseas tourism to Britain as a whole is worth circa £12,671 million annually. The International Passenger Survey indicates that Wales' share of this market is low at 1.4 per cent. The most up to date figures for 1998 indicate that Wales received 790,000 visits worth approximately £176 million to the Welsh economy. Wales' market share of domestic tourism is much higher at 8 per cent. It is clear therefore that there is considerable potential to improve our market share of international visitors to the UK and to grow overseas visitor spend.

  The Wales Tourist Board's Tourism Strategy—Achieving Our Potential indicated challenging growth targets for international tourism to Wales, assuming that sufficient resources are made available. By 2010 the target is to attract 1.26 million visitors spending £396 million annually.

1.3  Statutory Framework

  The Wales Tourist Board was established in 1969 under the Development of Tourism Act along with the National Tourist Boards of England and Scotland and the British Tourist Authority. The Act charged the Wales, Scottish and English Tourist Boards with developing tourism within their respective countries and with promoting those countries within the UK. The same Act charged the British Tourist Authority with encouraging people living overseas to visit Britain.

  Thus under the 1969 Act, the Wales Tourist Board was prohibited from using its own resources to market Wales internationally. However, in 1992 the Tourism (Overseas Promotion) (Wales) Act 1992 was passed. This granted powers to the Wales Tourist Board to promote Wales overseas providing that it first received consent from the Secretary of State for Wales who was required to consult with the British Tourist Authority prior to taking a decision. A similar Act in respect of Scotland was passed in 1984. There has been no similar change to the 1969 Act in respect of England.

  Through the Government of Wales Act 1998 the functions and powers of the Secretary of State under the Development of Tourism Act were transferred to the National Assembly for Wales. The Assembly also has the power under the Act to call the British Tourist Authority to give evidence before it and to produce documents

1.4  Partnership Framework

  From 1 January 1998 a new Overseas Marketing Agreement was formulated between the British Tourist Authority and its strategic National Tourist Board partners. The Agreement set out to clarify the roles, responsibilities and working relationships between the British Tourist Authority and in our case, the Wales Tourist Board. A copy of the Marketing Agreement is attached as appendix 1. The Agreement is monitored by a steering group comprised of Senior Directors of the Boards. Additional protocol agreements relating to specific areas of work are also developed building on the principles enshrined in the Marketing Agreement. In addition there are regular planning meetings between relevant officers and regular liaison and communication at all levels.

  The Chairman of the Wales Tourist Board is also an ex officio member of the British Tourist Authority Board.

2.  HOW IS WALES PROMOTED?

  The Wales Tourist Board's current overseas marketing budget is circa £1.5 million. This compares to a total budget of the British Tourist Authority of £35.5 million.

  Through the planning processes outlined above, the Wales Tourist Board resource is used to supplement the work of the British Tourist Authority in priority markets for Wales. The Wales Tourist Board is currently active in the following overseas markets:

  Primary—USA, France, Germany, Holland, Ireland.

  Secondary—Australasia, Japan, Belgium

  The markets are selected after analysis using a number of criteria to establish which offer the best potential for Wales. Some of the criteria used include current value of the market, cost of penetrating the market, potential for seasonal and regional spread, access from the market etc. The spread of overseas markets and the priority lists are currently under review. Final decisions will be taken when overall budget levels for the next three years are known.

  Within each market, we then select priority market segments, these are basically identifiable groups within the overall market. Again, the selection process for market segments is determined by analysis of key selection criteria. It is essential that the relatively limited budget available to the Wales Tourist Board is used in as targeted a way as possible. Without such clear targeting it would be impossible to make any significant improvement in respect of Wales' international performance.

  Through the marketing planning process, we then determine the marketing action plans within each chosen market. Although the individual plans will vary from market to market, they will generally include:

    —  Supplementing the British Authority advertising campaigns.

    —  Influencing the travel media.

    —  Developing direct response marketing campaigns involving the British Tourist Authority and other partner databases.

    —  Improving Wales product representation amongst the overseas travel trade.

    —  Agreeing print distribution plans.

  In addition, through a process of negotiation and discussion, we seek to maximise the benefits for Wales by agreeing with the British Tourist Authority, their support for Wales within each market.

  The marketing activity has to involve a considered balance between activities which raise awareness of Wales as a destination in the medium to long term and shorter term initiatives which will stimulate bookings.

3.  STRATEGIC ISSUES

3.1  Branding Wales

  In general terms, the image of Wales in overseas markets lacks clarity and our profile is low. In our opinion, for this to change it requires a clear, effective branding strategy which ensures a consistent image of Wales is communicated in target markets by the Wales Tourist Board and its strategic partners including the British Tourist Authority. We believe that responsibility for determining this branding strategy and for agreeing the nature of the image of Wales portrayed must rest with the Wales Tourist Board. We believe that the countries which make up Britain add to the richness and diversity of Britain's tourism product offer. Every effort should be made therefore, to allow the Wales tourism brand to develop under the Britain umbrella. All British Tourist Authority communication should therefore consistently and effectively signpost the Wales brand. If Britain is acting as an effective umbrella it allows the opportunity to filter interest through to its constituent parts. The British Tourist Authority advertising and promotional strategy must in our opinion, allow this to happen and when Wales is promoted it should reflect the agreed branding and image content for Wales. There is no doubt that if it is communicated effectively, Britain can add value to the Wales brand and vice versa.

  One of the factors which may have hindered the development of a profile for Wales internationally is the lack of differentiation between the terms "Britain" and "England" amongst many overseas consumers. For many people overseas they use the term "England" when they are in fact referring to "Britain". It is imperative in our opinion therefore, that whenever Britain is referred to, it clearly identifies and represents all of its constituent brands and not just England. This will help overcome confusion in consumer perception and will increase the recognition and understanding of Wales.

3.2  Effective use of Resources

  The British Tourist Authority operates an effective network of offices in 27 countries throughout the World. However, such a presence is costly and therefore limits the proportion of the British Tourist Authority budget that is available for proactive promotion and marketing. Although it will become increasingly important for Wales to have detailed market intelligence and partner relationships within its primary markets, our priority must be to use our limited resources to facilitate proactive marketing activity for Wales. We therefore need to ensure that the British Tourist Authority's bricks and mortar and human resource network is complementary to the work of the Wales Tourist Board. Any dedicated staff required for Wales on territory can be generally accommodated through specific additional presence within the existing British Tourist Authority offices as is the case currently in New York, or through additional representation linked to individual tasks such as media representation and travel trade sales support. In general terms therefore and assuming that the British Tourist Authority office network is operating effectively on behalf of Wales we do not envisage the need to open tourism offices for Wales overseas. It is recognised however, that in the future there may be increased opportunities to work on territory with other Wales based partners particularly the Welsh Development Agency. The Wales Tourist Board advocates a flexible approach which allows us to take decisions based on an assessment of the market needs and the potential return on investment.

  Since obtaining overseas marketing powers the Wales Tourist Board has demonstrated the quality of its market analysis and communication. We have also developed a strong understanding of the issues surrounding the international marketing of Wales as a tourism destination. As stated above, we believe that the challenging growth targets for Wales can only be achieved if additional resources are made available. We believe that any additional resources must be under the control of the Wales Tourist Board. We would always seek to ensure that these resources complement and supplement the work of British Tourist Authority and that the British Tourist Authority guidance and advice is sought in the development of the marketing strategy.

3.3  Sharing Targets and Objectives

  The British Tourist Authority and Wales Tourist Board=s marketing plans are very closely linked and complementary. The fact that the British Tourist Authority has to represent the whole of Britain however does sometimes make it difficult to share specific targets relating directly to Wales. It is evident however, that it will be difficult for Wales to achieve its desired objectives unless the British Tourist Authority resources are working fully in support of Wales. Arguably therefore, in the future, complementary strategies between the Wales Tourist Board and the British Tourist Authority may not be sufficient to bring about the desired increase in international visitors to Wales. It may be necessary to sign up to a common agreed strategy for Wales and the targets and desired outputs resulting from that strategy. Respective roles would also be agreed with regards to the implementation of the strategy.

  One of the key measurable targets set by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in relation to the performance of the British Tourist Authority is linked to return on investment. If this target becomes the key driver for British Tourist Authority policy it could lead decisions which may effect Wales adversely. For example, it could be easier to achieve return on investment targets by promoting established destinations within the UK such as London.

  Although the British Tourist Authority does have a general objective of improving the regional spread of tourism, it does not have a measurable target in this respect. Closer alignment British Tourist Authority with monitorable targets for Wales (and other regions) would assist in monitoring their success in contributing to regional spread.

3.4  Clarifying Roles

  When the British Tourist Authority develop and coordinate specific campaigns within individual markets, they have the unenviable task of satisfying the needs and aspirations of a number of strategic partners with differing views and objectives. Often the resources at the disposal of the strategic partners also vary considerably. The British Tourist Authority also have to contend with the fact that whilst Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, London and some English regions may be able to bring money to the table, the English Tourism Council currently has no overseas marketing remit. The challenge facing the British Tourist Authority is to coordinate the effective use of the individual budgets available and meet the needs and particular aspirations of individual partners without compromising the effectiveness of the overall marketing campaign from a consumer perspective. Equally, each partner will need to determine whether the leverage it generates from working in a pan Britain initiative overcomes any necessary compromises in the clarity and effectiveness of the communication of the individual country brand.

  It is important to Wales that the absence of an English organisation with a remit to promote the whole of England overseas does not in the future lead to British Tourist Authority de facto becoming the overseas arm of the English Tourism Council. Arguably ensuring consistency in the responsibilities of Wales Tourist Board, Scottish Tourist Board and English Tourism Council would help clarify the future role of the British Tourist Authority in implementing specific campaigns.

3.5  Balancing a Strategic Approach with Individual Market Needs

  Any organisation with a global marketing responsibility must successfully balance the need for a consistent strategic approach with the requirement to be flexible in responding to individual market conditions. The British Tourist Authority has in recent years moved from a more centralist approach to marketing planning and delivery to a devolved approach giving greater responsibility to managers responsible for individual markets and regions. In general the Wales Tourist Board welcomes this approach as it has led to more innovative and relevant marketing solutions. However, this policy can sometimes make strategic planning for the Wales brand more difficult as we have to "conform" with marketing decisions taken by individual country managers. We will work with the British Tourist Authority to create a framework for marketing which allows market flexibility but which ensures that Wales is consistently represented and communicated.

4.  FUTURE CHALLENGE

  We are competing in a dynamic environment where the conditions effecting demand for tourism in Wales are ever changing. Also, as a result of devolution, greater emphasis is being placed on the constituent countries and regions of Britain. Success for Wales will require that we make the most of Britain's position as one of the leading incoming tourism destinations in the world whilst working with the British Tourist Authority to ensure that the profile of Wales is enhanced and that we are able to capture an increased share of an enlarged tourism market for Britain as a whole.

  We will need to build on the already positive working relationship with the British Tourist Authority and seek to integrate strategies still further and to clarify respective roles in the overall communication process.

  Success for Wales will demand a single minded approach with all strategic partners working towards a common agreed objective and vision. It will require that all resources are used effectively. There will be no room for ambiguity or duplication.


 
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Prepared 27 March 2001