Memorandum submitted by the Wales Tourist
(a) Never before has the importance of tourism to the
economy of the United Kingdom, particularly to the economy of
Wales, been more apparent. Never before has the industry been
so much in the forefront of the news and never before has the
future, the core and the infrastructure of tourism been so thoroughly
(b) Tourism is one of the largest and most
important industries in Wales and contributes £2 billionover
7 per centto the GDP of Wales. Ten per cent of Welsh jobs
are associated with tourismover 100,000 jobs in over 10,000
businesses throughout the country.
(c) Tourism is critical to the success of
the economy of Wales. The economy of rural Wales could not exist
without it. The impact of foot and mouth disease has been felt
throughout the tourism industry in Wales, in town and countryside,
but the impact has been hardest in the rural inland areas of Mid
and North Wales in both infected and indirectly affected areas.
(a) The domestic (UK) market remains the biggest source
of tourism business for Wales and in 1999 generated an estimated
92 per cent of overnight visits, about 81 per cent of all overnight
(b) Awareness of Wales in many overseas
markets remains variable and Wales attracts approximately 3 per
cent of all overseas visitors to the UK. The overseas market however
is relatively high spending and has strong all year round growth
potential compared with the more traditional UK customer base.
(c) Promotional priorities in our five key
overseas markets of the USA, Germany, France, Ireland and Holland,
are twofold. Firstly, we seek to raise awareness of Wales as a
distinctive holiday destination through effective communication
of our brand positioning. Secondly, we seek to consolidate effective
partnerships with key travel trade operators to improve the conversion
rate of enquiries into actual bookings.
(d) The WTB continues to be closely involved
in the British Tourist Authority's advertising campaigns in all
primary markets to ensure additional coverage for Wales.
3. THE IMPORTANCE
(a) In 1999, for the first time ever, more than one million
trips to Wales were made by overseas visitors, staying on average
7.2 nights and spending a total of £269 million.
(b) The WTB is committed to growing the
percentage of the UK overseas market from 3 per cent to 3.4 per
cent by 2010, predicated on a growth rate of 4 per cent per annummore
than 0.8 per cent higher than that estimated by the BTA over the
(c) Despite the strength of the pound and
other factors, the WTB was confidently predicting modest growth
in its overseas market share during 2001.
(d) This is no longer expected. Indeed,
we predicted that the core of each overseas market will be lost
and the figures for visits, number of nights and spend will all
4. IMPACT OF
(a) There is, as yet, very little detailed statistical
analysis available of the impact of foot and mouth on the industry.
Nevertheless, it is fair to assume that the market for overseas
tourism has been decimated over the past two months.
(b) Anecdotal evidence, coupled with the
first statistical evidence (both prior to, and during, Easter)
shows that overseas visitors to Tourist Information Centres are
dramatically down on last year. Attraction operators and hoteliers
report far fewer overseas visitors than in previous years.
(c) Responses to the WTB's survey of 250
businesses over the Easter period revealed that turnover across
all sectors fell an average of 31 per cent compared with 2000.
(d) Those who reported their figures in
visitor numbers, however, showed a slight increase of 9 per cent
year on year, suggesting that tourist attractions (those most
likely to report in visitor numbers) had held their ground and
attracted the majority of visitors who came to Wales but who avoided
rural and inland countryside activities and pursuits.
(e) Other operators listed the percentage
change year on year and this averaged a fall in performance of
27 per cent.
(f) Operators were also asked how many people
were employed in the business compared with the same time last
year, for all sectors combined, a total average of 15 employees
last year had fallen by 7 per cent for Easter 2001.
(g) Commenting on the effect foot and mouth
had on their business overall, 46 per cent answered that business
was down, but that they were confident about the longer-term prospects.
Seventeen per cent replied that their business was down to the
extent that it would be under threat in the next 12 months and
some 11 per cent were in serious danger of going out of business
within the next three months. The remainder claimed that foot
and mouth had not yet had an impact on their business.
(h) Further, more comprehensive information
should be available by mid May to assess the situation more fully.
(i) Activity holiday operators, especially
those specialising in walking and cycling, report the worst losses
to date, either because they are based in an infected area or
because the footpaths their customers frequent have been closed.
Such operators are more likely to depend on active European holiday-makers
seeking fresh air and the great outdoors and thus have been hit
from all sides.
(a) The WTB reacted immediately in the face of worsening
news about the foot and mouth crisis and after its board meeting
in early March drew up a promotional campaign, appointed an outside
agency and galvanised those who represented the countryside to
sign a Tourism Charter and approve guidelines for those visiting
the countryside and for those looking to provide holidays in a
responsible manner to visitors to Wales.
(b) The Board's marketing team has one objective:
To persuade visitors from the UK that Wales
is open for Easter and beyond and to book a holiday here.
reassure potential customers that
Wales still has many treasures for them to enjoyeven while
the crisis continues;
provide reasons to visit; and
provide a platform from which individual
businesses can communicate their product to potential visitors.
(c) So far, some activity under the banner
of the "Two Hours and a Million Miles Away" campaign
has already taken place before the crisis struck:
300,000 mailing to previous enquirers
on WTB database;
two million inserts distributed in
magazines and newspapers;
advert in Radio Times Christmas
edition, two page advertorial in Radio Times week commencing
27 March, full page in Readers Digest.
(d) From Saturday 31 March there was:
a radio advertising campaign on regional
stations in Wales, North West, West Yorkshire, Midlands, M4 corridor
large advertorials (paid-for editorial)
in 25 regional and national press titles week commencing 31 March;
advertising on Teletext;
a direct mailing to 100,000 of the
current year's enquirers and an e-mail to further 30,000 enquirers
with messages of reassurance and guidelines for travel;
pro-active PR campaign targeted at
regional and national media;
extension of the Advantage Campaignthere
will be further subsidised advertising opportunities for the industry
between May and July in national press and on Teletext with savings
of up to 74 per cent off rate card;
a Tourism Charter and Visitor Guidelines
have been produced and are now available on the Wales Tourist
Board's website. All mailings to visitors will refer to Visitor
Guidelines and give details of the Internet address and freephone
(a) Informed customers and potential customers make informed
choices. The WTB's aim on launching its dedicated foot and mouth
website was to provide daily updates of what's open and what's
available to tourists.
(b) As the next phase in gathering information
the Regional Companies were charged to prepare a regional picture
which in some parts of Wales was augmented by highly organised
Local Authority tourism departments. This system (together with
direct contacts from individual businesses) is still the system
that is supporting the database of 1,018 (as of 20 April 2001)
"things to do" that are listed on the website and on
the database circulated across Wales and to the BTA.
(c) The decision was made early on to make
use of existing channels to provide a free information and booking
service for visitors. This was done by using the existing marketing
campaign number 08080 100000 and the technology at our distribution
house to redirect calls to the most appropriate of the three regional
information lines. The initial use of this service clearly demonstrated
that the majority of enquirers were seeking clarification as to
what was open and reassurance that a holiday in Wales was still
a suitable option.
(d) As the concept of the pre-Easter marketing
campaign developed, it was recognised that there was a need to
augment the service. Changes to the service proved very effective
in terms of offering the reassurance message. This meant that
more time could be spent with the callers who were put through
to the regions. In addition to this it was recognised that some
callers had very specific queries that needed a local response
and thus TICs in each marketing area were integrated into the
system, with calls being redirected from the distribution centre
to them in the same way as the redirection to the regions.
(e) The number of calls to the service has
varied between around 90 a day at the start up to almost 300 a
day in the immediate run up to Easter. In addition to calls coming
through the 08080 100000 the advertorials also featured the key
TICs across Wales (ie one per Marketing Area) and this generated
considerable responses with TICs reporting substantial increases
in calls most of which were seeking reassurance or else details
of open attractions, etc.
(a) Since the outbreak of foot and mouth the focus of
all website developments has been on integrating information about
foot and mouth and what is open, both for the visitor (www.visitwales.com)
and the industry (www.wtbonline.gov.uk).
(b) The first development was the inclusion
of a "what's open" database in a new area entitled "This
week" which was accessed from the splash page. As the extent
of the situation developed so the section became the main route
into the site, replacing the standard intro pages. The "This
week" section now comprises sections on special breaks, attractions,
activities, events and general information contacts. New sections
to enhance these areas are being developed, focusing on more detailed
information about activities as well as new approaches in line
with the new marketing campaigns.
(c) The WTB online section has been used
to provide up to date information to the industry about the extent
of foot and mouth, the impact upon tourism in Wales. Sections
include: marketing opportunities, the tourism charter, news, press
release, FAQ, open attractions, media information and general
information and contacts.
(d) WTB officers maintain all of WTB web
sites directly and as soon as information is available it is published.
Indeed, the system was monitored and updated as required over
the Easter period.
(e) The industry has been given a number
of opportunities to utilise the Internet site (at no cost)these
include: free banners to their own sites, access to the offers
section by them providing information on any offers that they
are offering, and direct links from database listings (for accommodation
and attractions). Whilst full reports of usage of all sites is
only available on a monthly basis, it is already apparent that
the visitor and the corporate sites have received increases in
usage during the foot and mouth crisis and especially during the
run up to Easter.
(a) The issue of financial recompense is a critical and
incredibly complex one: the Wales Tourist Board has lobbied the
National Assembly of Wales since the outbreak of foot and mouth
to bring its influence to bear on banks and insurance companies
in dealing with tourism businesses and welcomes the £12 million
business rate relief announced by the Assembly in early April.
(b) More support is now needed for those
who are suffering directly. The WTB strongly supports the idea
of low cost loans to businesses directly hit and forced to cease
trading as a direct result of the foot and mouth crisis. These
loans could be repaid over a long time frame and repayments would
only begin once the business was fully operational once more.
(c) Although the impact of foot and mouth
has been severe, we should not underestimate the influence of
both the strong pound and VAT levels on the underlying trends
in overseas visitors. A recent survey by the Wales Tourist Board
indicates that value for money was a key disappointment for a
majority of overseas tourists, an impression enhanced by the strength
of sterling during 2000. This evidence was further strengthened
by the comments of the European tourism industry leaders on a
recent visit to Wales where these issues were mentioned as factors
gravitating against visiting the UK well before the issue of foot
and mouth greatly exacerbated the situation.