I am fortunate to have just returned from a five day cycling holiday in the Ring of Kerry in Ireland where I stayed in four B&B’s around the ring and experienced many different types of hospitality (generally all very good). All bar one of the B&B’s were fully booked with 90% of their customers being either Dutch, German, French or American. The rest were made up of other Brits and home-grown Irish folk.
If I were to do the same in rural Wales I would rarely come across a non-British tourist. This tells me three things:
1. Southern Ireland has a much stronger worldwide brand than Wales so figures higher on people’s choices for a holiday
2. The Irish hospitality product is really consistent and goes the extra mile (much custom reading, the comments books were great)
3. Non UK and Brits go to Southern Ireland because they can easily fly into one of its regional airports (I think they have four) or catch a ferry direct to Southern Ireland.
Although I know that the majority of Welsh tourism businesses are doing their best to up their game to provide a great visitor experience, Welsh Government and Visit Wales need to spend more to put Wales more firmly on the international map. Wales has everything that southern Ireland has apart from a strong international brand, a healthy international marketing budget and direct access into Wales from continental destinations via airports and ferries.
Let’s spend a high proportion of EU and RDP funding on infrastructure and marketing. If we get new custom to Wales and treat them right, I am certain that a high proportion will return and tell others what a great place it is. Wales is great, but sadly it seems that only the Welsh know this!