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Wales Tourist Board

Volume 130: debated on Monday 21 March 1988

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9.

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what was the total amount allocated for (i) publicity and (ii) marketing, within the annual budget for the Wales tourist board in 1980–81 and 1987–88.

The Wales tourist board's gross expenditure on marketing — including publicity which cannot be separately distinguished — increased from £1·55 million in 1980–81 to an estimated £3·493 million in 1987–88.

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Is he aware of the concern that is felt in many parts of Wales that the board's publicity and marketing budget is still less than 50 per cent. of total expenditure? As that ought to be the major part of its work, will he ask the board to increase the proportion that it spends on these vital sectors?

The board spends a substantial proportion of its total budget on marketing, which is a very important part of its work, but it also has certain other costs, including expenditure on section 4 grants.

Will the Minister suggest to the chairman of the Wales tourist board that he arranges a meeting with the chairman of the Highlands and Islands Development Board, which has had a marked success in its publicity and marketing, and has developed a tourist initiative which works in harmony with the local community and benefits the local economy?

I am sure that all these non-governmental bodies have a great deal to learn from each other, but no one should underestimate the achievements of the Wales tourist board or the money that the Government have made available to it. The allocation for the current year is some £8·7 million and for next year it will be £9·2 million —an increase of 9 per cent. There has been an increase since 1983–84 of some 90 per cent. in the funds made available to the board, and it is making good use of those funds.

Should not my hon. Friend reconsider those figures in the light of the fact that the Wales tourist board will have to make substantial additional expenditure as it embarks upon an important programme of grading of hotels?

An increase of 9 per cent. in the board's resources for next year is very substantial, and this year we are making available additional funds of about £250,000 to promote marketing. As for hotel registration, the board already operates a voluntary system.