Today, during a plenary debate, Heritage Minister, Rhodri Glyn Thomas, highlighted the importance of sustainability in the development of the tourism industry in Wales and outlined action taken by the Welsh Assembly Government on implementing the One Wales’ commitments to develop the benefits of sustainable tourism for job creation, training and the economy.
The Heritage Minister, said:
Tourism perhaps more than any other industry relies upon the integrity of our natural environment. The high quality of Wales’s natural and built environment and its distinctive character are vital to the tourism industry. For tourism to prosper it is essential we safeguard and enhance our unique assets which visitors come here to enjoy.
Acknowledging the potential of the environment will always be a key priority in the development of tourism; and to be sustainable, the impact of visitors on the environment must be well managed for the benefit of future generations.
Safeguarding the quality of the natural and built environment will always be a key priority in the development of tourism. Sustainable tourism however is more than ‘being green’. Sustainable tourism addresses social, cultural, economic and environmental issues. To be sustainable, tourism will have to consider the needs and quality of life of local communities, enhance and respect culture and local traditions, contribute to local economic prosperity as well as minimise damage to the environment.
The Sustainable Tourism Framework was launched in November 2007 and a forum of partner organisations was set up to drive the sustainable tourism agenda forward.
The Minister outlined activities that have already made a significant contribution to promote Wales’ sustainable tourism credentials. Among these projects are: Visit Wales are working with partners including Cadw, CCW and the Environment Agency on developing two EU project bids focusing on sustainable tourism in Wales; Continued support for the Green Sea Partnership which is committed to safeguarding and enhancing the coastal environment of Wales, including raising the number of Blue Flag and Green Coast awards - 42 Welsh beaches were awarded a blue flag in 2008 compared with just 12 in 1999.
In addition to this Visit Wales has supported the work of organisations such as Keep Wales Tidy, Arena Network and Wales in Bloom. This year, Visit Wales supported the pilot of a new British Standard Event Management System at the Hay Festival which will lead to a sustainable event management toolkit.
The Heritage Minister also had the opportunity to announce that the Welsh Assembly Government had secured an additional £4.2 million for Visit Wales’ marketing programme for this financial year. This funding has become available through the Objective One programme due to euro / pound exchange rates. The additional funding will mean a significant boost to the UK summer and autumn campaigns and Visit Wales will also be able to expand on some planned International campaigns. It will also allow a much larger than anticipated UK campaign in January to kick-start early bookings for 2009.
There are excellent examples of sustainable tourism practices in Wales:
The following were winners in the recent Green Snowdonia Tourism Awards 2008:
- Best Sustainable Tourism Business – Trigonos an inspiring residential centre in the Snowdonia National Park
- Most sustainable B&B - Y Goeden Eirin, nr Caernarfon
- Sustainable Tourism Business Award for Community Involvement and Social Responsibility - Caban Cyf, Caernarfon
- Most Sustainable Self-Catering Accommodation - Yr Hen Stablau, Pantlludw, Machynlleth.
The Wern Horse and Rider Bed and Breakfast, Brecon were winners of the ARENA Network Business and Sustainability Awards. The Wern specialises in providing holidays for people who wish their own horses to accompany them.
Under the Thatch were also shortlisted for the awards.
June 17, 2008