The Minister was responding to the National Assembly for Wales’ Communities and Culture Committee report - ‘making the most of major sporting event in Wales’.
During Ryder Cup week, the Deputy First Minister and Heritage Minister launched ‘Event Wales’ - Wales’ first Major Events Strategy which aims to build on the hugely successful Team Wales effort in delivering the 2009 Ashes Test and the 2010 Ryder Cup.
During today’s debate, the Heritage Minister announced a major events budget which will be used to develop a balanced and sustainable portfolio of major events which enhances Wales' international reputation and the wellbeing of its people and communities.
The Minister, said:
“Subject to the Assembly’s approval of the draft budget we propose a total major events budget of £4.8 million in the financial year 2011/12. In our view, this will put Wales in a strong competitive position with other parts of the UK.
“This budget will also allow us to support the development of a strong and sustainable events industry in Wales with a real sense of purpose and direction. It will also enable us to engage from a position of not inconsiderable strength with potential partners outside Wales.”
Deputy First Minister, Ieuan Wyn Jones, said:
“Major events play a crucial role in raising Wales’ international profile and reputation and in attracting large numbers of visitors to Wales. It is worth noting the positive contribution which major events can make to the Assembly Government’s drive to develop the creative industries sector in Wales and to support our wider skills agenda set out in the Economic Renewal programme.
“In this difficult financial climate there is an even greater responsibility on Government to clearly articulate its strategic priorities and to work in a proactive and cost effective way with our many partners to deliver the best economic, social and cultural legacy for Wales.
“Event Wales is our response to calls from the events industry in Wales and beyond for a more co-ordinated and coherent approach to future support for major events.”
Over the next five years, the Assembly Government’s Major Events Unit will focus its investments on: supporting a programme of Growth Events to create the environment for developing specialist skills and knowledge; working with the owners of Signature Events to extend their reach to new audiences inside and outside Wales; and attracting major international events to raise Wales’ profile in the world.
The Major Events Unit has already made a good start with a number of new and exciting developments. The Heritage Minister, said:
“We are pleased to be supporting the return to Wales next year of the IRONMAN Triathlon. The event will start in Tenby and showcase the breathtaking landscape of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. It will provide a huge boost for the local tourism industry and provide a high profile platform for encouraging healthier lifestyles.
“And in Manchester last night, we announced that Wales would be co –hosting with England the 2013 Rugby League World Cup. Hosting such an event will also provide a welcome financial boost to those towns and cities who secure the right to host fixtures, training camps and house the playing squads and with the additional attraction for many visitors, the economic impact has the potential to be great.”
The Heritage Minister also informed the Assembly that a biennial International Events Conference to promote and market Wales as a major events destination would take place – the first of these conferences will be hosted in the latter part of 2011.