The importance of tourism industry collaboration and unity was emphasised by speakers at the annual meeting of an independent organisation that represents around 600 tourism and hospitality business across Mid Wales.
The impact of Welsh Government legislation on the industry was one of the main discussion points at a members’ forum which followed the annual meeting of MWT Cymru (Mid Wales Tourism) held at Hafan yr Afon, Newtown on Tuesday.
MWT Cymru chairman Rowland Rees-Evans, chief executive Val Hawkins, MBE, and Wales Tourism Alliance chairman Suzy Davies all stressed the need for tourism and hospitality businesses to stay united.
Addressing her final annual meeting before retiring next year, Mrs Hawkins outlined MWT Cymru’s role and work, emphasising: “We are here to sell Mid Wales region as a must-visit destination.
“We are experienced at working at the interface of the private and public sectors and it’s extremely important that we build on that collaborative approach.”
She is keen to expand seasonal and themed offers to attract more visitors during 2024 when MWT Cymru will be rolling out a rewards and incentives project, funded by the UK Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund, to support towns and communities in Powys.
Mrs Hawkins encouraged businesses to collaborate with MWT Cymru and Visit Wales to attract more international visitors to Mid Wales by offering unique experiences and to focus sharply on customer service and repeat business.
“In these uncertain times, the unity and resilience of our business community are more critical than ever,” she added. “Together, we will navigate these challenges and ensure that Mid Wales continues to shine as a leading destination.”
Mrs Davies said there were positive signs that the Welsh Government is beginning to listen to the WTA and other industry leaders’ concerns about the cumulative impact of new legislation.
The cited examples of how the WTA and others were trying to influence new legislation for the statutory regulation of accommodation providers, a proposed tourism tax and a reduction in the school summer holiday in Wales.
“We need to stand together with a united voice and avoid any sense of isolation when representing the tourism industry,” added Mrs Davies, who heads an alliance representing around 6,000 businesses in all sectors of tourism industry across Wales. “What we are doing collectively is working.”
Mr Rees-Evans thanked the WTA for its work on behalf of the tourism industry and MWT Cymru staff for keeping members “ahead of the curve” with information about Welsh Government legislation.
“Without MWT Cymru, tourism and hospitality businesses in Mid Wales would not have a voice,” he said. “We punch way above our weight in terms of the work we do on behalf of the industry and it’s really important that tourism businesses become members if they want to have an influence.”
MWT Cymru re-elected Greg Loweth, business development manager at The Metropole Hotel and Spa, Llandrindod Wells as a Powys trade director. He was joined on the board by Shane Logan, general manager of Powis Castle and Garden, Welshpool.
MWT Cymru represents more than 600 tourism and hospitality operators across Powys, Ceredigion and Southern Snowdonia. Businesses wishing to join the not for profit, membership organisation are asked to contact Tel: 01654 702653 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Tourism leaders have called on Welsh Government ministers to listen to the industry when developing policies that will impact businesses.
The call came from Wales Tourism Alliance (WTA) chairman Suzy Davies and Steve Hughson, chairman of both the Mid Wales Regional Tourism Forum and the Event Wales Industry Advisory Group, when speaking at the Mid Wales Tourism Conference.
The sell-out conference, which attracted 120 delegates as well as exhibitors and sponsors, was held at the Metropole Hotel and Spa, Llandrindod Wells. The event was organised by MWT Cymru, an independent organisation representing around 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and Southern Snowdonia.
Mrs Davies said the WTA, which represents around 6,000 businesses in all sectors of tourism industry across Wales, was working with others to restore the industry’s relationship with the Welsh Government.
There had been a breakdown in communications stemming from the introduction of the 182-day rule for self-catering accommodation in Wales. Self-catering accommodation that fails to be occupied for 182 days of the year now risks paying much higher council tax.
The WTA has been talking to the Welsh Government about the impact of the 182-day rule, a tourism tax and statutory registration of tourism accommodation, but Mrs Davies said it had not been listening and businesses had lost faith in the consultation processes.
“The current engagement structures don’t work for either the Welsh Government or the tourism industry,” she added. “The industry must be in the room when the Welsh Government shapes and designs policy and we need to be listened to.”
She said there were signs that the Welsh Government was now beginning to listen to the industry’s collective voice, as a review of the 182-day rule had been promised and the tourism tax had been delayed until 2027.
“There is now a much better understanding of what we have been all saying for the past 18 months,” she added. “We must never find ourselves in this position again which is why we have organised a symposium in Newtown in January and we hope the Welsh Government will attend.”
Mr Hughson also stressed the importance of a united tourism industry working closely with the Welsh Government to influence and shape policies to ensure that they work well when introduced.
“We can get the Welsh Government and Visit Wales to change, so long as we work in partnership in a polite, respectful and evidence-based way,” he said. “It has never been more important that we work together.”
Regional tourism forums across Wales had an important role in making Welsh Government ministers in different policy areas aware of the cumulative effect of their policies on the tourism industry, he added.
MWT Cymru chairman Rowland Rees-Evans thanked both Mrs Davies and Mr Hughson for their work on behalf of tourism businesses during a challenging time for the industry.
He referred to four consultation papers issued by the Welsh Government. “They will undoubtedly have a major impact on the industry when the legislation is implemented,” he said.
“We are already starting to see the effect of 182-day rule on self-catering holidays. As it stands at the moment, next year we will also have full business rates to contend with, among other changes.
“MWT Cymru has always tried to look after its members, business partners and community groups with help and support from our great team who try to get ahead of the curve whenever new legislation, rules and regulations are being put in front of us.”
Despites concerns about new legislation, he said there were positive signs that 2024 could be a better year for tourism businesses. Forward bookings were healthier than the same time last year and there was feeling that people, who did not take a holiday in Mid Wales this year due to the cost of living crisis, would return in 2024.
Wales Tourism Alliance chairman Suzy Davies being interviewed by Phil Blizzard for a conference podcast.
“We have seen record numbers of people coming into Mid Wales. Staycationing looks as if it is going to be with us for some time to come, especially if people don’t have the confidence to travel abroad.
“Mid Wales has become a recognised destination and our job is to ensure it stays that way. We know that places like North Wales and Pembrokeshire have been very popular destinations for some time but I think Mid Wales is starting to catch up and long may it continue.
“Our challenge is to make sure that we can get these visitors to come back.”
But Mr Rees-Evans also warned of “dark clouds looming over the horizon” as the industry grapples with staff shortages, supply chain issues and the expected return of VAT to 20% from 12.5%. There will also be the 1.5% increase in National Insurance staff contributions for businesses to factor in.
“As an industry we are going to have to manage these changes carefully because they will affect our bottom line,” he said.
The human resource shortfall was also highlighted by Arwyn Watkins OBE, managing director of Cambrian Training Company, the conference’s lead sponsor, who urged delegates to challenge the current education system to ensure that apprenticeships are given equal importance for school leavers as staying in education currently is.
“Changing the compulsory education system won’t win votes for politicians, but it will address the needs of the area which is more important,” said Mr Watkins.
But the new chair of the Wales Tourism Alliance, Suzy Davies, also encouraged delegates to “seize the day” and made her organisation’s priorities clear as the industry continues its recovery from the pandemic.
“We intend to continue as the strong and united voice for tourism in Wales whilst at the same time being a critical friend to the Welsh Government by campaigning for better economic conditions,” she said.
“I want to assure the industry that we are a champion for the private sector. Visit Wales and the Welsh Government can’t do everything so we look forward to working with them. We have to get the balance of partnership right.”
That message of unity was supported by Steve Hughson, chair of Mid Wales Regional Tourism Forum, who praised the recent Visit Wales marketing campaigns that had raised the profile of the region to unprecedented levels.
“What is being done at the moment in the name of Mid Wales is absolutely magnificent,” he said, while reiterating that the forum will ensure that the “voice of tourism, hospitality and leisure is heard at the Welsh Government”.
Other enlightening presentations were delivered by travel journalist, York Membery, who gave insider advice on how to deal with the media, while Nerys Howell and Sian Roberts, from Loving Welsh Food, gave a light hearted lesson on improving customer service.
Community-led collaboration in Newtown and Rhayader was the topic of discussion addressed by Bill Stow, Rhayader 2000, Michael Booth, Dwr Cymru, and Stuart Owen, Open Newtown, while Lucy Von Weber, head of marketing at Visit Wales, reviewed their recent promotional campaigns and shared the latest data and research which led to their powerful autumn advertising campaign.
Brand specialist, Roger Pride, director of Heavenly, delivered advice to delegates on how to ensure their businesses are being noticed in a crowded market place.
In summing up the conference, MWT Cymru chief executive, Val Hawkins, said it had injected fresh energy into the tourism sector and encouraged delegates to spread the positivity across the region.
“We have welcomed a cross section of expert speakers with a wealth of knowledge in tourism to this conference which has been extremely well supported by a large number of attendees,” said Mrs Hawkins.
“We have a tremendous opportunity now to build the industry whilst at the same time we all need to listen to what our businesses are warning us about human resource shortages, supply chain issues and the pending return of VAT to 20%.”
MWT Cymru chairman Rowland Rees-Evans addresses the conference.
Delegates are welcomed to the conference by Justin Baird-Murray, managing director of the Metropole Hotel & Spa.
The first major tourism and hospitality conference held in Wales since the Covid-19 pandemic began in the UK last year is to go ahead in Llandrindod Wells in November.
MWT Cymru has announced that the 2021 Mid Wales Tourism and Hospitality Conference will be held at The Metropole Hotel on November 9 from 9.45am to 3.30pm
To help ensure a safe conference, everyone attending must have an up to date NHS Covid pass, details of which are available at https://covid-status.service.nhsx.nhs.uk/
“We all have a responsibility to keep each other safe at this year’s conference,” said Val Hawkins, MWT Cymru’s chief executive. “Whilst the success of the vaccine programme in Wales has provided us with the opportunity to meet in-person this year, we all must take steps to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
MWT Cymru is an independent organisation that represents more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and the Meirionnydd region of Gwynedd.
“The tourism and hospitality sector has been one of the economic sectors hardest hit by the pandemic,” said Mrs Hawkins. “The focus of this year’s conference is to explore how individual businesses, communities and organisations can pull together and rebuild as we move forward to 2022 and beyond.
“With the unlikely return of the international market to the levels seen pre-pandemic for another few years, destinations across the UK will be focusing their attention on the domestic and staycation trend. With increased destination competition, how will Mid Wales compete?
“Our conference provides an opportunity to cover topics that matter most to tourism and hospitality businesses. It is an event not to be missed, no matter how big or small your business is.
“The conference is designed to give businesses a clearer idea of what's going on, what's changing and what we can all do to better work together to keep Mid Wales at the forefront of people's minds.”
Delegates will hear from experts in their fields and have an opportunity to network with other tourism and hospitality professionals, industry leaders, suppliers and business support organisations.
The line-up of speakers for the conference, which is being sponsored by pan-Wales apprenticeship provider Cambrian Training Company and supported by Visit Wales, will be announced in the next two weeks. For more information and to book tickets visit www.midwalestourismconference.co.uk
MWT Cymru’s membership and marketing manager Claire Owen chats with Populate Social founder Dan Simmons at the Mid Wales Tourism Conference in 2019.
Focus Newtown Enterprise Hub has teamed up with Celf-Able, a diverse group of artists in Powys, to launch this new series. Celf-Able provides opportunities for people to get together, reduce isolation and celebrate disability culture. The group is open to all.
The first session, on Friday, December 18, will focus on the arts and employment, specifically looking at overcoming barriers, in life and in business, to embark on a journey of entrepreneurship.
It will also focus on how creative skills can be utilised as a potential career path. The hub will be welcoming Williams, a Paralympic swimmer, gold medallist and award-winning entrepreneur, to share his story.
Mark is a Big Ideas Wales role model and founder of LIMB-art, the manufacturing company producing cool prosthetic leg covers. He will discuss his inspirational journey from amputee to successful business owner.
“In today’s world of ever changing rules, regulations and new challenges we have to face, it’s so easy for people not to find their path forwards and just give up,” said Mark. “I hope by sharing the lessons I’ve learned in life and challenges I’ve overcome, it will help people find their way and live out their dream.”
Celf-Able, a group of disabled and non-disabled artists, will also be joining the session. Director and chair, Sue Patch, will discuss the important work they do to combat loneliness and how the power of art has helped many disabled people in Powys develop new skills and feel part of something.
“Events like these are so important for Mid Wales and everyone is welcome to join us,” said Holly Jones, hub manager for Focus Newtown Enterprise Hub. “The purpose of this event is to promote inclusivity, diversity and to empower those who are not sure of what career path they want to take.
“We will be looking to continue the series in early 2021 and we are hoping to host an art exhibition at the end of it.”
The Focus Newtown Enterprise Hub is an innovative space to incubate and accelerate new and growing businesses based at Royal Welsh Warehouse, Newtown.
The hub is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government. Spaces on this session are fully funded and people can register online by searching ‘Focus Newtown Enterprise Hub’ on Business Wales Event Finder.
The Focus Newtown Enterprise Hub is a member of MWT Cymru, an independent organisation representing more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and South Gwynedd.
Paralympic gold medallist and award-winning entrepreneur Mark Williams.
MWT Cymru, an independent, not for profit company representing tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and Meirionnydd, is attracting more members and visitors.
The company’s annual meeting, held at Portmeirion, heard that 56 new members had joined during 2019, boosting membership to 614
More visitors are also being attracted to the company’s websites, which welcomed 1.73 million unique users, 38% up on last year and 14.4 million page views, up 54%. There were 99,000 direct referrals to businesses from the www.visitmidwales.co.uk website.
The positive membership and website figures provided the platform for a very busy and successful year for the MWT Cymru team, based in Machynlleth.
“MWT Cymru is a tourism organisation which has highly experienced staff and directors and 600-plus member businesses,” said chief executive Val Hawkins. “We pool our knowledge and expertise, working collaboratively with partner organisations and local tourism groups, to grow and develop a resilient tourism sector and ensure we are able to weather any storms which may be headed our way.”
Successful marketing projects run during the year included #RealMidWales, which is grant funded by Visit Wales and aims to put Mid Wales on the map as a “must visit” destination.
A live streaming project, organised at four locations in partnership with Visit Wales, National Trust Cymru, Hafren Dyfrdwy, RSPB Cymru and National Resources Wales, reached 589,000 people in the target audience – people aged 27-45 years. This campaign will be further developed in 2020, said Mrs Hawkins.
She also revealed that a ‘This is Mid Wales’ integrated marketing campaign, funded by Visit Wales, started in May to promote the region and the #realmidwales messages. The campaign will include targeted advertising on Sky TV, social media, user generated content, a mixed media destination guide and workshops.
A ‘Real Ceredigion Experiences’ pilot project, aimed at the county’s attractions and activities sector, saw 12 businesses attend workshops and receive consultancy support to develop their digital selling techniques.
One of the 2020 marketing campaigns will be targeted at the “conscious traveller” by promoting Mid Wales as a staycation destination, particularly outside the peak tourism season.
Chairman Rowland Rees-Evans said: “Working in partnership with other organisations is in our DNA and I am delighted that MWT Cymru continues to work closely with the Visit Wales national tourism team.
“We will continue to champion the need for increased funding for the tourism industry in Wales and to encourage our local authorities to work closely with MWT Cymru in order to best maximise return on investment on their own limited budgets.”
He urged the Welsh Government to invest more money on marketing tourism in Wales, comparing the investment of £40 million in Ireland and £45 million in Scotland to the £20 million in Wales. The return on investment was €6 billion in Ireland, £9 billion in Scotland and £5 billion in Wales.
He had recently attended a Hoseasons conference where it was reported that the company was investing £40 million to enhance its IT system because ‘staycationing’ was forecast to continue growing. He also referred to the growth of “gramping” where grandparents take their grandchildren on holiday.
Both he and Helen Jones, Visit Wales’s regional engagement manager for Mid Wales, congratulated the MWT Cymru’s team for organising “fantastic” Mid Wales Tourism Awards in October, which showcased what the region had to offer.
Rob Bullen, from the Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth, welcomed the focus on the “conscious traveller”, while other members expressed concern about the unreliability of the Transport for Wales train services to the region and the need for “joined up thinking” on the location of charging points for electric cars across Wales.
Members also spoke about the demand for accommodation for short breaks for groups, the attraction of visitors in the shoulder season and the importance of tourists to support golf clubs.
Meurig Jones from Portmeirion and Paul Fowles from Aberdovey Cottages, Aberdovey, were appointed Gwynedd trade directors of MWT Cymru for the next three years.
The UK's National Cycle Museum, in the Automobile Palace, Llandrindod Wells, will be having an Open Day on Tuesday 14th May 2019 from 10am-8pm.
All members of MWT, (with a companion if desired), are very welcome to a free visit and refreshments.
The museum is one of the leading world museums for cycle history, which spans over the last 200 years. Cycles from 1818 -2018 are displayed. Many items of cycle memorabilia on display also. Find out how gentlemen mounted a Penny Farthing and why ladies were frowned upon if they attempted to ride them. Enjoy a free guided tour.
It would be appreciated, but it's not compulsory, if you could let Freda the curator, know if you are able to attend. The contact details are email@example.com or phone 01597 825531 on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday between 10am-4pm.
The Mid Wales tourism industry has delivered a clear message of unity with a positive outlook for the year at its annual conference held at The Metropole Hotel, Llandrindod Wells.
Featuring a stellar line-up of speakers including Irene Roberts, Director UK & Ireland, Expedia Group, the Mid Wales Tourism Conference, organised by MWT Cymru, was held just a month before Britain leaves the European Union and, despite the uncertainty, the local tourism sector was encouraged to be positive and to step up its marketing to promote the region as a world-class leisure destination.
“At Expedia, we are relatively optimistic about the future,” Mrs Roberts told more than 120 delegates in attendance. “There will be challenges but also opportunities.
“People still want to travel, whether that is domestic or international, and Mid Wales has so much to offer. The market can be currency driven so the weak pound provides big opportunities for this region.”
She said that Expedia Group witnessed a 20% growth in the number of room nights booked in Wales during 2018 with sharp increases in visitors from emerging markets including China, India and Japan. There were also surges in bookings from European countries like Germany, France, Italy and Norway, with a 54% rise in customers booking a package of both hotel and transport in Wales.
Despite the current headwinds caused by the Brexit uncertainty, tourism officials were in buoyant mood with Lucy Von Weber, Head of Marketing at Visit Wales, highlighting that 2019 is the Year of Discovery for Wales with a far reaching marketing campaign promoting the country.
Steve Hughson, chair of the Regional Tourism Forum (Mid Wales) and chief executive of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society gave a rallying call to “make Mid Wales the next big thing” by encouraging the local industry to work closer than ever before.
“It is the people that make it work,” said Mr Hughson. “Let’s be innovative about the way we work to promote Mid Wales. We must also do more to stop the skills drain from leaving the area, and if young people do leave then we should encourage them to return home with their new skills and experiences.”
In his opening address, MWT Cymru chairman Rowland Rees-Evans said that the consequences of Brexit “would be felt in these precarious times” but also called on the sector to embrace the spirit of the #RealMidWales campaign which, according to MWT Cymru chief executive Val Hawkins, makes Mid Wales the “truly unbranded travel destination for escapist dreams”.
“Mid Wales is targeting tourism growth despite Brexit uncertainty as our individuality makes us stand out,” said Mrs Hawkins. “Our #RealMidWales campaign highlights the natural beauty of our region so we have worked hard on developing our visual signature through high quality imagery and video.”
Mrs Hawkins praised the four Slow TV projects in 2018 which involved a static camera streaming live on social media for eight hours from a chosen location. The streams reached almost 600,000 users and are likely to be repeated from more locations in 2019.
Other impressive conference speakers included: Andrew Campbell, chair of the Wales Tourism Alliance; Dan Simmons, founder of Populate Social; Paula Ellis, group general manager of Retreats Group in Pembrokeshire;and Kirsty Maclver, NFU Mutual, who talked about succession planning and ‘safeguarding your business’.
The conference was sponsored by NFU Mutual, Guestlink Online Tourism Solutionsand Pear Communications and also featured a number of exhibitors.
It is organised every year to give businesses a clearer idea of what's going on, what's changing and what they can all do to better work together to keep Mid Wales at the forefront of the industry.
For more information visit www.midwalestourismconference.co.uk
GDPR Workshop for Tourism Businesses
Tuesday 3rd July 2018
MWT Offices, The Station,Machynlleth, SY20 8TG
Pre Booking is Essential - Only 12 Places Available
1 Attendee Per Business Only.
As requested by members, we're pleased to announce that we have teamed up with Business Wales to provide a GDPR workshop which covers aspects of GDPR which are specific to the tourism industry.
Businesses can attend this course Free of Charge.
We ask that only one attendee attend per business due to the restrictions in numbers and booking is essential.
This will be an all day course with tea & coffee provided with 1 hour for lunch but lunch will not be provided. There are a number of outlets in and around Machynlleth where you can purchase lunch (or bring your own :)
The tourism industry processes large volumes of personal and sensitive data in taking bookings and in its marketing activities, including using direct marketing via email and post, websites using cookies and sharing data in offering excursions and making third party bookings etc. In addition to this, the industry must also comply with GDPR in processing employee and seasonal worker data.
Come and explore how the new GDPR data protection legislation affects your business and marketing activities. Be clear on what you should be doing, including to audit the data you hold: in taking bookings and payments; for direct mail; on websites; in handling employee data.
It is important that you understand your legal basis for processing data; what privacy notices and consent authorisation you need in place; the role of data protection officers; and review any data sharing arrangements.
THE SILVER MOUNTAIN EXPERIENCE, LLYWERNOG, PONTERWYD, ABERYSTWYTH, CEREDIGION, SY23 3AB
At the Silver Mountain Experience there have been very exciting developments recently, in the areas of visitor experience through to the conservation and development of the fascinating heritage here at this unique Silver-Lead Mine, which dates back to over 250 years ago.
Silver Mountain would like to invite MWT members to to one of their local business network sessions on Thursday 7th June or Tuesday 19th June.
The sessions will include two free guided tours, an opportunity to see the surface attractions and developments around the site, and to join us for a cuppa and a chat in the café.
All they ask in return is that you take away some of their leaflets, events flyers and a poster to display in your business.
We very much hope you will be able to come. Spaces are limited.
If you are unable to make any of these dates, feel free to contact them on 01970 890 620 and they can help arrange another time for you to come for a complimentary visit!
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