CALLS have been made for the Welsh language to be ‘weaponised in a positive way’ to promote tourism in the country.
Welsh business leaders met with politicians on Wednesday to discuss tourism in the country.
Sean Taylor President and founder of Zip World, which employs 750 people in Wales and attracts a million visitors a year, told the Welsh Affairs Committee that he felt the country needed to move away from sheep, wet weather and …rugby and weaponise the Welsh language in a positive way.
He told the committee: “I feel we’re negative about the language.
“International and English visitors love the use of the language.
“We get school groups from over in England and by the time they leave they can say bore da, prynhawn da, croeso, and they love it.
The challenge for us is how do we brand Wales.
“We have a very vibrant language that we don’t push enough.
“One of our advantages is that we are very compact.
“The train from Euston to Holyhead is three hours. There is a perception in London and the south east that and also international visitors that we are right up in Scotland. We’re not. We are very close.
“We have amazing adventure tourism, heritage and food and drink.
“Its a complicated and long-term strategy how we build brand Wales, and I think we definitely need to get away from sheep, wet weather and – even as a president of my local rugby club – rugby as well. Because football has come to the fore now.
“And the language needs to be weaponised as an advantage not a threat.”
Ian Roberts, Finance Director, at Portmeirion Cymru agreed with Mr Taylor’s comments, adding: “We in Portmeirion have always put a strong emphasis on the culture the tradition and the language.
“Our Welsh language policy is strong.
“Over 90 per cent of the people that work in Portmeirion speak Welsh and our meetings are through the medium of Welsh.
“We believe that tourists that come to Portmeirion enjoy hearing the language and they enjoy also hearing that it’s a vibrant, live language.
“That it’s used every day and it’s something that could be used more and also more of the use of the term Cymru rather than Wales as we have seen with the Welsh football team.”
The committee, which included Ceredigion MP, Ben Lake, also heard from Stephen Davies, Chief Executive, Penderyn Distillery and Paul Lewin, General Manager, Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways in Porthmadog.
The purpose of the committee was to explore how best to promote Wales to domestic and international tourists.
Mr Lewin told the committee that he did not feel Wales got a fair slice of the cake when it came to international tourism and all four business leaders felt the Welsh brand needed strengthening.
Mr Lewin said: “We don’t have a crisp, clear proposition for Wales. And a brand for a country will need to
be built on a common theme.
“On a day like today it is shouting out at us that what is common to all the tourist attractions in Wales is the setting. It is the wonderful environment, the wonderful scenery and how accessible it is compared to many other places.”
All four business leaders also felt that although the relationship with Visit Wales was strong, contact with Visit Britain was very limited and more needed to be done.
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