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Oral - New Phase of Visit Wales Marketing Activities

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Alun Ffred Jones, Minister for Heritage

As the summer tourism season approaches, I thought that it would be appropriate to outline the current marketing activities of Visit Wales. Before I do so, to pre-empt any incorrect claims from some Members, I want to clarify that the vast majority of the Visit Wales marketing team is the same as the team that worked for the former Wales Tourist Board. The marketing expertise was not lost during the merger of the Wales Tourist Board, and the team continues to deliver creative and effective marketing campaigns, competing effectively with our key competitor destinations. That marketing expertise is also vital in successfully leveraging promotional opportunities around major events such as the Ryder Cup.


Last year, in the middle of difficult economic conditions, Visit Wales launched the Holidays Unpackaged campaign, featuring Welsh comedian Rhod Gilbert. During the peak of the campaign in spring 2009, 53 per cent of respondents surveyed in the UK recalled seeing the TV campaign. As a destination, Wales still suffers from background reputational issues when compared with other destinations such as Scotland, the west country and Ireland. We therefore rely heavily upon successful campaigns to drive up awareness and increase visits to Wales. I am therefore pleased to report that Visit Wales’s campaigns effectively cut through those of competing destinations in what is a very competitive marketplace.

In 2009, our campaign was the most recalled of all for UK destinations. This awareness translated into positive action, with 18 per cent of those who were aware of the campaign looking for further information via Visit Wales or directly from the trade.


Yesterday saw the launch of our new campaign, 'Proper Holidays’. The campaign’s theme is built around the idea that we have a strong opinion about what makes a proper holiday; we know that our opinion is shared by our visitors, and we know that Wales can deliver holidays that are authentic, memorable and different. The campaign conveys the message that Wales is a place where people will want to work on their sense of adventure rather than work on their tan; that Wales is a place to explore, not a place to ignore from a Lilo, and that Wales stands for proper holidays.


The Proper Holidays campaign features real people having real experiences in Wales. It features two stars; Wales, of course, and the Darkes family from Huddersfield, who were genuinely disappointed by their last holiday abroad. The campaign follows the family holidaying in Wales, and comprises two 40-second television advertisements and an interactive section on the Visit Wales website leading to a 10-minute film.


In developing the campaign, the intention was to convey a real feeling of what a holiday in Wales is all about. It is a new style of advertising that offers something genuinely different from any other holiday campaign out there at the moment. It will stand out from the competition in a crowded marketplace. As part of the campaign launch, a 36-page holiday supplement will appear in The Times on 22 May.


With reference to the Ryder Cup, Visit Wales has also developed a new television advertisement on golf to run over the crucial months leading up to the Ryder Cup in October. It builds on all the work that the Assembly Government and other partners have been involved in over the past 10 years in preparing for the Ryder Cup and in maximising the opportunities that the event will bring to Wales.


Golf tourism has increased year on year since 2005, with some 184,000 golfing visitors in 2009, contributing a total of £34.7 million to the Welsh economy. Last year again, in very tough economic conditions, golf tourism increased by no less than 18 per cent compared with 2008. The new advertisement, launched to the US golf media last week, again features real people: a golf group having true golfing experiences in Wales. I think that we will be able to see the advertisement, if the technology works.


That is the advert, and the more discerning among you will realise that it was shot at Nefyn and District Golf Club on the Llŷn peninsula, providing yet more evidence that the Ryder Cup, and the work put in place around it, is delivering benefits to the whole of Wales. Clubs like Nefyn, along with clubs such as the Royal St David’s, Aberdovey and Conwy have all experienced significant growth in golf visitors. The advert will be screened at major golf events throughout the summer and at the Ryder Cup itself. It has been developed in a way that ensures that it can be used for promotional purposes after the Ryder Cup has left us.


Last year you may recall the major contribution that our marketing and major events teams played in making the Ashes test such a success for Cardiff and Wales. The Wales Says G’Dai campaign seemed to strike a chord with the media and cricket fans. It is the way I tell them.


Now, the Visit Wales team is developing branding and marketing ideas for the Ryder Cup. The Our First Ryder Cup campaign will ignite the passion of the Welsh people and help to create a real sense of occasion around the event. It will also show how the benefits of the Ryder Cup have impacted on many people in all parts of Wales. Visitors to the event will see humorous pieces of communication from Wales at many points on their journey. In the autumn of 2010, for our American guests, it will be a case of 'Wales Says Have a Nice Dai!’. I do not write this stuff myself, as you probably realise.


Earlier this year we discussed how tourism is making an important contribution to Wales’s economic, social and cultural wellbeing. Visit Wales’s campaigns and major events, such as the Ashes and the Ryder Cup are helping to increase that contribution by building Wales’s reputation, challenging stereotypes and encouraging people to think and talk positively about Wales.