Examination of Witnesses (Questions 260-
TUESDAY 30 JUNE 1998
D MICHAEL JONES
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
(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.
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