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BBC Wales's Becky Dickinson
"The report...calls for radical change"
 real 28k

Thursday, 20 July, 2000, 06:32 GMT 07:32 UK
Tourism must 'reinvent itself'
Caerphilly Castle
Attractions like Caerphilly Castle brought in visitors
A stark warning has been issued to the tourism industry in Wales that it must reinvent itself in order to compete.

The new chairman of the Wales Tourist Board warned the industry must respond to market trends and become less dependant on variable factors like the weather and exchange rates.

Philip Evans, who succeeded Tony Lewis as WTB chairman earlier this year, said the industry had to change to "outmaneouvre the competition" and that "change is not only essential but also a route with no alternatives".

The warning came as the WTB published its annual report on Thursday.

It shows that tourism in Wales continues to generate more than 2bn each year and supports 100,000 jobs.

1999-2000 Annual report highlights
The UK campaign attracted almost 250,00 responses in 1999
The long domestic holiday is still the biggest source of overnight tourism for Wales
The Rugby World Cup generated as estimated 70,000 additional visitors
Total spending from overseas visitiors is estimated to exceed 200m
Mr Evans has taken on the chairman's role at the end of a difficult few years for the WTB.

The Sea Empress oil disaster off the Pembrokeshire coast delivered a body blow , and then the former chief executive retired amid claims that the board was not doing enough to market Wales as a tourist destination.

But last year saw the bonanza of the Rugby World Cup being staged in Wales, and generating the WTB estimates, an extra 83m of spending.

But Mr Evans is insisting that the WTB now moves forward.

Rugby fan
The Rugby World Cup generated extra income

He said the board has to become a centre of excellence and maintain not only a national reputation, but an international reputation for doing its job.

A ten year strategy called Achieving Our Potential was endorsed by the National Assembly for Wales in April. It is estimated this will cost 1bn to implement.

Mr Evans said the Board must now be allowed to implement the strategy "without undue hindrance from any quarter".

Aggressive

He said the products that had satisfied the tourism market 20 years ago were now in decline.

"Our competition is not one another but the major overseas operators who, with discounted prices and aggressive marketing, are attacking our core markets by moving the benchmarks of perceived value, " Mr Evans said.

But he added that there was a vast difference between the promotion of tourism , which the WTB was responsible for, and the provision, which was up to the industry itself.

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