Tourism worth £4.2bn to Wales with Cardiff accounting for one quarter of total, new figures show

Tourism in Wales has long been associated with the thousands who flock to the nation’s beaches, hills and mountains every year.

Yet new figures have revealed that the capital is now a heavyweight in helping draw visitors to the country.

Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan alone account for more than £1bn of the £5.8bn spent in Wales by tourists in a year.

Bosses have welcomed latest figures, released by the Office for National Statistics, which show Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan contributed some of the highest tourist spends per head in Wales – more than £2,747per person in a year.

The figures, which cover 2011, come just days before the start of Wales Tourism Week which begins on Saturday.

Tourism expert John Wake said the profile of the city has become more inviting, making it more than just a business centre.

“What is interesting is the contribution made by Cardiff and its business tourism. Cardiff has marketed itself well, and what we are seeing is people who are staying on business trips in the city are perhaps bringing their families with them.

“They are spending a lot of money using the tourism facilities while they are here, like the Doctor Who set or Cardiff Castle. The important thing is that people are visiting and they are spending.”

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He said the figures may reflect the height of austerity measures introduced by the coalition Government in 2011.

“I think Wales may have benefited from the fact that many families were tightening their belts and not travelling abroad. We have seen a higher proportion of tourism from the UK because of that,” he said

Chris Osborne, chairman of the Wales Tourism Alliance, said innovative Visit Wales campaigns had made the country an attractive destination both to UK and overseas tourists.

Mr Osborne said new marketing made Welsh venues attractive for all weather conditions and not strictly competing for a bucket and spade trade.

“We know that we can’t always rely on the weather here in Wales,” he said.

“What is important is that we strengthen what we have to offer when the sun isn’t shining. That way the visitors will return and investment will continue. Much of Visit Wales’ recent marketing has given a new focus on some of the stunning locations we have, and the wonderful all weather activities on offer. I think all that is starting to pay off. ”

Councillor Russell Goodway, Cardiff council’s cabinet member for finance and economic development, said: “The figures for Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan are encouraging and it is good to see so many parts of Wales feature in these positive statistics.

“The council will continue to work with our partners to market the city to encourage tourists and business visitors in to the capital. Our message is clear, Cardiff is very much open for business.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “These figures demonstrate the importance of the tourism industry to the Welsh economy. Last year was a bumper year for tourism, which is now developing into a strong and resilient part of our economy, and Wales has already been named as one of the top five countries in the world to visit in 2014. We want to build on this good progress. Our tourism strategy aims to increase the value of tourism to the Welsh economy.”

Sourced by Wales Online

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