It doesn’t seem to get any easier out there for the poor old UK hotel industry. According to reports, trade is still below 2007 levels, disposable incomes are still down so we are all spending less and, to cap it all, costs are continuing to rise.
And it’s not just us, overseas visitor numbers are also well below the levels of those heady days before the big crunch hit us all.
So it’s actually quite refreshing to see that, far from being cowed by the state of the UK economy, the Welsh Government has announced ambitious plans to boost tourism in the Wales and has thrown down a challenge to the industry to respond and become part of their “Partnership for Growth”.
An important part of their plan is to stimulate investment in more luxury and branded hotels across Wales, as well as new hotel developments that will make the most of the country’s “rich heritage of historic and distinctive buildings”. They are also planning to grow Wales’ reputation as a high quality food destination.
A lot of research and hard work seems to have gone into the report and its recommendations, which include actively promoting Wales as a high quality tourism destination, extending the tourism season, encouraging investment in high quality hotels, spas and all-year-round visitor attractions and supporting investment in staff training.
Edwina Hart, the Welsh Minister responsible for tourism said: “Tourism is a global industry and is highly competitive but Wales can compete with the best. We can offer a rich culture and heritage, a landscape of high scenic quality, a unique coastline and a diversity of experiences to our visitors. We may be a small country in terms of size but our ambitions and ability to work with agility and a sense of purpose will help to set us apart from our competitors.”
If you take a look at what is going on in some of the big tourist destinations across the world, it is easy to see why Wales has chosen to go for an upmarket image. For overseas visitors who may be used to travelling in the Far East or Middle East, some of our UK hotel accommodation must seem very drab in comparison.
Wales’ ambitions may seem far-fetched but you only need to look at places like Dubai to see how an economy can be transformed by bold ambition, commitment and hard work. And, apart from a lot more sun and sand, Dubai had a lot less to offer than the beautiful country of Wales.