independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Wales needs better weather: Jones

The Welsh First Minister says bad weather is to blame for a drop in tourist numbers

Wales needs better weather if its tourism industry is to prosper - says the country's own First Minister.

New figures show there has been a sharp drop in visitors to the country in recent years.

According to statistics from Visit Britain, North American holiday-makers to the Land of My Fathers have fallen by 40%.

First Minister Carwyn Jones insisted his government is doing all it can to boost Wales' image abroad via a fervent marketing campaign.

But the qualified barrister was met with laughter from the opposition benches after he blamed the weather for the downturn.

He said: "More than anything else, on top of the marketing support we are putting in, we need to make sure we have better weather than we have had over the past few years. It has not helped."

Tourism is worth around £4 billion a year to Wales' economy - with its capital Cardiff being the biggest contributor.

But despite being given a boost to its profile thanks to Premier League football club Swansea City as well as global superstars like singer Katherine Jenkins and actress Catherine Zeta Jones, concerns have been expressed about its tourist trade.

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams raised the issue during First Minister's questions in the Senedd, Cardiff. She said: "In 2012, your government spent an extra £850,000 on tourism promotion. What exactly did taxpayers get for that investment?"

Welsh Labour leader Mr Jones, who last year embarked on a series of trade missions to the USA and China, replied: "What have we been doing? Selling Wales around the world. We have committed many millions of pounds to marketing Wales around the globe."

Press Association

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