On 5th March, local Member of Parliament Gerald Jones MP, Assembly Member Dawn Bowden and Merthyr Tydfil CBC leader Brendan Toomey welcomed a group of international travel buyers from the Netherlands and Belgium to Brecon Mountain Railway to market Merthyr Tydfil and the surrounding area as a tourist attraction to International markets.
From 4th to 7th March 2017, VisitBritain took two delegations of buyers from China, Hong Kong, Belgium and the Netherlands to Wales to show them the great range of tourism products that the nation has to offer and to give them the opportunity to meet with local tourism businesses, which included a number of attractions in Merthyr Tydfil.
It is the most recent visit from VisitBritain, the organisation formed from the old British Tourist authority, who last year visited the Mountain Railway with a delegation from the Gulf States including international buyers from Dubai and Kuwait.
Local Labour MP Gerald Jones was pleased to welcome this year’s delegation:
“I was really pleased to welcome a delegation to Brecon Mountain Railway for the second year. We can see how our local areas attracts a global audience and it’s great that VisitBritain are marketing our area to international tour operators.
“There is huge potential for Merthyr Tydfil and the upper Rhymney Valley as well as the surrounding area as a tourist destination, and I’m confident that VisitBritain will continue to promote our area and return in the near future with another delegation.”
The UK tourism industry is currently worth £127 billion annually to the economy. It is a major job creator, with on average an extra job being created for every 22 Chinese visitors that come to Britain. It is a growing market in Wales, with 969,731 overseas visitors traveling to Wales in 2015 and spending £409.97 million, up 11.5% on the previous year.
Figures from VisitBritain show that 2016 was a record-breaker for inbound tourism to the UK with 37.3 million visits, up 3% on 2015, with visitors spending £22.2 billion, matching 2015’s record spend. Comparing growth during the last six years shows there were 7.5 million more visits in 2016 than 2010, an increase of 25%.
Local Assembly member Dawn Bowden was also keen for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney to claim a larger share of the growing tourism market:
“It was a pleasure to meet with Dutch and Belgian tour operators at the Brecon Mountain Railway. We are fortunate in Merthyr Tydfil and the Upper Rhymney Valley to not only have beautiful countryside, but also a rich social and industrial heritage. I see the development of tourism as a key part of the project of regeneration of the local area, and this visit by our guests from the Netherlands and Belgium, through the ExploreGB project, is a welcome initiative in boosting tourism in the area.”
Council Leader Brendan Toomey said that Merthyr Tydfil had a lot to offer tourists:
“We’re delighted that Merthyr Tydfil is being marketed as a tourist destination around the world. Alongside Bike Park Wales, the Rock UK Climbing Centre, Parc Taf Bargoed, Cyfarthfa Park and Castle, and the Trevethick and Taff Trails we have a lot offer to tourists from across the UK and the World.”
VisitBritain Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said:
“ExploreGB gives UK tourism suppliers and local destinations a valuable opportunity to get their products and services in front of hundreds of international buyers and do business with a broad range of global markets.
“International delegates will return home in no doubt about the outstanding quality of tourism products and experiences available across our nations and regions and that Britain is open for business”
2017 is also Visit Wales’ Year of Legends – a campaign to encourage visitors to explore more of Wales’ distinctive history, culture, heritage and mythology.
In addition, this year’s UEFA Champions League Final, will be played in Cardiff– which will be chance to showcase Wales to the world as a sporting and cultural hotbed.