Organisations with an interest in tourism and hospitality across Mid Wales must collaborate to help the region bounce back from the rigours of the Covid-19 pandemic.
That was the clear message that emerged from the virtual annual meeting of MWT Cymru, which represents more than 600 businesses in the sector in Powys, Ceredigion and the Meirionnydd region of Gwynedd.
Val Hawkins, MWT Cymru’s chief executive, told the meeting: “As we emerge from the pandemic, it is imperative that we all work closely together and speak with one voice for Mid Wales, thereby avoiding mixed messaging to visitors.
“It is going to take a huge effort by all of us working in the sector, but the late summer demonstrated just how popular our region is for ‘staycations’. With the ‘staycation’ trend expected to gather pace in 2021, I am confident our members will be ready to meet this growing demand.”
Mrs Hawkins outlined MWT Cymru’s plans for 2021 which seek to attract younger visitors, aged 27 to 40 years, from target markets, including South Wales, within two to four hours’ drive time of Mid Wales
A ‘This is Mid Wales’ campaign, which had been delayed by the pandemic, will focus on four key themes: Travel routes, Nature and wildlife, Health and wellbeing and The outdoors, including adventure and sport.
The company’s website - VisitMidWales.co.uk - has been redesigned for 2021, having attracted nearly 1.5 million users and nearly 11.2 million page views in the past year.
Destination guides and media packs have been developed to support broader marketing and social media campaigns and to focus on key themes and local areas.
Mrs Hawkins said MWT Cymru would be pressing Visit Wales to launch a targeted marketing campaign to welcome visitors back to Wales in 2021.
Following feedback from members, MWT Cymru agreed to form a marketing focus group to consider suggestions including changing the Mid Wales brand name to the Heart of Wales and to develop marketing campaigns for specific destinations within the region.
More work will also be done to identify and promote charging points across the region for the rising number of visitors driving electric vehicles.
Chairman Rowland Rees-Evans, a director of Penrhos Park, Llanrhystud, said despite the huge Covid-19 challenges, national media coverage of Mid Wales as a tourism destination had been at an all-time high and the region must capitalise on that exposure in 2021.
He hoped that tourism in Mid Wales would return to some normality by April next year as Covid-19 vaccines are rolled out. “I think we would all prefer to be trading again rather than continue to be on life support,” he added.
“The return of visitors in August and September, when we were allowed to reopen, highlighted the growing popularity of ‘staycationing’. There is a huge opportunity for us to sell Mid Wales as a great visitor destination.
“Forward bookings in most sectors are up for 2021 and, hopefully, this trend will continue. It’s very important that MWT Cymru is here to shout for Mid Wales because if we don’t, no one else will.”
He thanked Mrs Hawkins and her team, Wales Tourism Alliance’s chairman Andrew Campbell and policy advocate Adrian Greason-Walker and Mid Wales Regional Tourism Forum chairman Steve Hughson, for their work during the pandemic.
Greg Loweth, business development manager of the Metropole Hotel, Llandrindod Wells, will be joined by Charles Dark, owner of the Wynnstay Hotel, Machynlleth as a trade director for Powys. Mr Dark replaces Owen James of Crickhowell who was thanked for his service.
Rowland Rees-Evans, MWT Cymru’s chairman.
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