Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 260- 266)



Mr Livsey

  260. I would specifically like to ask Councillor Michael Jones what he feels the strategic activities of the Welsh Office are actually in relation to Europe? How he feels about the exclusion of Powys, for example, at the division of NUTS when perhaps the GDP now is teetering on the 75 per cent of GDP of France?
  (Cllr Jones) Well, it is difficult to make too specific a comment on this one because one knows that there have been problems in the definition and this is where indicators come in again. I do not think that the right economic indicators have been used on this one. We do have problems, but I think we recognise that if the west side and the valleys come in, as far as Powys is concerned, we will have to be vigilant and we will have to make sure that we write in enough advantages out of a settlement that can come to benefit Powys. A lot of the travel, shall we say, will have to take place through Powys and we would hope to benefit from knock-on elements that could come on the back of the Area 1 status.

  261. But, nonetheless, it is important, if you do not get Objective 1, presumably to get Objective 2 status?
  (Cllr Jones) Absolutely, or else we will be finished. As I said before, there is a great despondency and things are happening so fast that I am not so sure that the political machine can catch up with the situation quick enough to acknowledge what is going on.

  262. Is that a criticism of the Welsh Office's ability to conduct strategy?
  (Cllr Jones) I would not like to say it is a criticism, but it is a weakness in the system that perhaps other countries address far more than we have in the past and this is where an Assembly, I would hope, would be very quickly responsive to what happens on the ground.

Mr Llwyd

  263. In your memorandum at paragraph 6, you refer to the fact that you are reviewing institutional arrangements for the promotion of tourism. I wonder, have you come to any conclusions as yet and can I ask you, do you accept the argument in favour of an independent, free-standing Wales Tourist Board or should this perhaps be subsumed within the new WDA?
  (Dr Winckler) We are about to publish our final report on the outcome of this exercise and what we have concluded is a combination of the two points that you made. We have concluded that there is a future for the Wales Tourist Board as a specialist marketing and promotion body and that they have a job to do in promoting Wales as a tourist destination. Nevertheless, we have also said that the Tourist Board must be brought very firmly within the economic development remit, if you like, both at all-Wales level and at regional level and we are pleased that they are now members of all the regional economic fora. We would like to see much closer working between the Tourist Board and the WDA and indeed the WLGA and the next step, we hope, is to agree a memorandum of understanding with the Tourist Board. We would also like to see economic development advantages inform the WTB's activities much more than they do at present. That is just a taster of what is going to come.

  264. Thank you for that. I know it varies, but what exactly would you say typically is the role of a local authority in promoting tourism?
  (Dr Winckler) It varies across Wales obviously, partly depending on the tourist potential of the area, but, as with economic development, authorities have a role in promoting and marketing their area, they have a role in developing attractions in their area and in providing some business support to existing tourism operators, and they also have a very important role in providing that whole lot of supporting infrastructure, the car parks, the promenades, the municipal parks for people to visit, the toilets, the waste bins and all the rest of it, and we think that local authorities underpin successful tourism and that is why we are so keen to work closely with the Tourist Board.


  265. Finally, your memorandum stated that you are reviewing the wide range of programmes currently offered to industry and that you are going to report in due course. Has that review been completed yet?
  (Dr Winckler) No, it has not, but I think there is a lesson from that in that it is not easy to get hold of a comprehensive list of all the different schemes and until we are sure that we have done that, we do not want to go public on that, but I think that there is a lesson there for everyone.

  266. Yes, I think there is a lesson there. Thank you all for your evidence today.
  (Cllr Crowley) Thank you for the opportunity to give evidence.

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