The chairman of an independent organisation that promotes tourism in Mid Wales has appealed to the region’s entrepreneurs to come forward with a proposal for a world class tourist attraction.
Rowland Rees-Evans told the annual meeting of MWT Cymru at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth that Mid Wales was slightly behind other regions of Wales in coming up with ideas for a Mid Wales Growth Deal, which would be supported by the Government.
“Visit Wales would love someone to come up with an idea like Zip World or Surf Snowdonia, as it would be a game changer for tourism in Mid Wales,” he said. “There must be an entrepreneur amongst us who has an idea that can fit this criterion.
“At the moment, there is not enough input from the private sector and, if it is not forthcoming, I fear we may well miss this opportunity.”
Based in Machynlleth, MWT Cymru is a social enterprise company representing 550 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and Meirionydd.
Referring to Visit Wales data, Mr Rees-Evans said tourists and visitors spend around £663 million a year in Mid Wales. The region attracts 1.75 million British overnight visitors together with 100,000 from overseas and 11 million day visits worth £300 million annually. The tourism industry in Mid Wales employs 10,800 people directly.
“From this data, I believe that, as an industry within Mid Wales, we have plenty of room for improvement and the possibility to raise the bar again and again,” added Mr Rees-Evans, a director of Penrhos Park at Llanrhystud, near Aberystwyth.
“If we were able to raise those figures by five or 10 per cent, the impact would be significant on Mid Wales and I am sure we would all benefit.”
He praised MWT Cymru for being a small company punching above its weight and appealed to members to embrace digital marketing and social media opportunities in their businesses.
With membership static at around 550, he appealed to members to help with recruitment. He set a target of each member recruiting one new member and warned that without MWT Cymru, the tourism sector in Mid Wales would have no voice.
Both he and chief executive Val Hawkins stressed that MWT Cymru received no public funding towards core activities, which were supported by tourism and hospitality businesses across Mid Wales.
Mrs Hawkins revealed the significant tourism impact being made by the company’s Visitmidwales.co.uk and showmewales.co.uk websites, which contained more than 5,000 pages of information about the region.
The website had this year attracted 1.5 million unique visitors – 50 per cent up on last year – and had generated more than 12 million page views and 125,000 referrals to individual businesses. Sixty per cent of the traffic had been from mobile devices.