I pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman for his time as shadow Secretary of State and thank him for his contribution at the Dispatch Box in that role.
As the House will know, tourism is vital to delivering economic growth in Wales. It has been a great year for inbound tourism in the UK and in Wales, with day visits increasing by 24% in the last 12 months.
Will the Minister pay tribute to the magnificent tourist attractions in Newport—Tredegar House, the wetlands, Celtic Manor, and the splendid Roman baths and amphitheatre—all of which increased tourist numbers last year by up to 70%? Will he confirm that visitors to all parts of Wales always praise the warmth of our hospitality?
I clearly agree fully with the comment about the welcome in Wales. In particular, I pay tribute to the South Wales Argus and its “We’re Backing Newport” campaign, which highlights the fact that Newport is not just a great place to live, but a great place to visit.
With B&Bs such as the Old Rectory on the Lake and the Ty’n y Cornel in Tal-y-llyn under new management and prepared, I hope, to do bar mitzvahs and gay weddings, does the Minister not agree with me that Welsh B&Bs offer a warm welcome to the English?
I agree with my hon. Friend that Welsh bed and breakfasts offer a great welcome, whether people are English, Welsh or any other nationality. They are a key part of the Welsh tourism offer, and they are to be applauded for the work they do.
I associate myself and my colleagues with the tribute to the people of Aberfan on the 50th anniversary.
In a previous life, the Minister was a very passionate supporter of the campaign to reduce VAT on tourism. He has made some very pronounced comments about that campaign in the past. Does he stand by them? More importantly, what representations will he make to the Treasury to make such a case to benefit tourism in our communities?
The hon. Gentleman is perfectly right in saying that I am a politician who advocates lower taxes, so I welcome the fact that this Government have cut national insurance contributions for small businesses and are cutting corporation tax for small businesses. There is a case to be made on VAT for many sectors of the economy, and that case will be made by the Wales Office, but there are no promises, I am afraid.
Does the Minister agree that one dividend of Brexit has been the fall in the pound against the euro, meaning that holidays in Wales are now 15% cheaper for our European friends?
Certainly I am more than happy to agree with my hon. Friend that tourism in north Wales has done extremely well over the past few months. Last week I spoke to hoteliers in Llandudno, who were saying that they have enjoyed 90%-plus occupancy during the summer, so there has been a Brexit dividend in that respect.