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Conference speakers urge Welsh Government to listen to tourism industry

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TOURISM leaders have called on Welsh Government ministers to listen to the industry when developing policies that will impact businesses.

The call came from Wales Tourism Alliance (WTA) chairman Suzy Davies and Steve Hughson, chairman of both the Mid Wales Regional Tourism Forum and the Event Wales Industry Advisory Group, when speaking at the Mid Wales Tourism Conference.

The sell-out conference, which attracted 120 delegates as well as exhibitors and sponsors, was held at the Metropole Hotel and Spa, Llandrindod Wells. The event was organised by MWT Cymru, an independent organisation representing around 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and Southern Snowdonia.

Mid Wales Tourism Conference 2023. Picture by Phil Blagg Photography. PB220-2023

Mrs Davies said the WTA, which represents around 6,000 businesses in all sectors of tourism industry across Wales, was working with others to restore the industry’s relationship with the Welsh Government.

There had been a breakdown in communications stemming from the introduction of the 182-day rule for self-catering accommodation in Wales. Self-catering accommodation that fails to be occupied for 182 days of the year now risks paying much higher council tax.

The WTA has been talking to the Welsh Government about the impact of the 182-day rule, a tourism tax and statutory registration of tourism accommodation, but Mrs Davies said it had not been listening and businesses had lost faith in the consultation processes.

“The current engagement structures don’t work for either the Welsh Government or the tourism industry,” she added. “The industry must be in the room when the Welsh Government shapes and designs policy and we need to be listened to.”

She said there were signs that the Welsh Government was now beginning to listen to the industry’s collective voice, as a review of the 182-day rule had been promised and the tourism tax had been delayed until 2027.

“There is now a much better understanding of what we have been all saying for the past 18 months,” she added. “We must never find ourselves in this position again which is why we have organised a symposium in Newtown in January and we hope the Welsh Government will attend.”

Mr Hughson also stressed the importance of a united tourism industry working closely with the Welsh Government to influence and shape policies to ensure that they work well when introduced.

“We can get the Welsh Government and Visit Wales to change, so long as we work in partnership in a polite, respectful and evidence-based way,” he said. “It has never been more important that we work together.”

Regional tourism forums across Wales had an important role in making Welsh Government ministers in different policy areas aware of the cumulative effect of their policies on the tourism industry, he added.

MWT Cymru chairman Rowland Rees-Evans thanked both Mrs Davies and Mr Hughson for their work on behalf of tourism businesses during a challenging time for the industry.

He referred to four consultation papers issued by the Welsh Government. “They will undoubtedly have a major impact on the industry when the legislation is implemented,” he said.

“We are already starting to see the effect of 182-day rule on self-catering holidays. As it stands at the moment, next year we will also have full business rates to contend with, among other changes.

“MWT Cymru has always tried to look after its members, business partners and community groups with help and support from our great team who try to get ahead of the curve whenever new legislation, rules and regulations are being put in front of us.”

Despites concerns about new legislation, he said there were positive signs that 2024 could be a better year for tourism businesses. Forward bookings were healthier than the same time last year and there was feeling that people, who did not take a holiday in Mid Wales this year due to the cost of living crisis, would return in 2024.

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£1m boost for marine, fisheries and aquaculture industry in Wales

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£1 MILLION of Welsh Government funding is being made available to boost the marine, fisheries and aquaculture industry in Wales, Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths has announced.

The support comes from the Welsh Marine and Fisheries Scheme, with the application window for this funding opening today. The scheme aims to ensure environmentally and economically sustainable growth in the sector and help coastal communities prosper into the future.

Those in the industry can apply for funding for a wide range of activities from 11 separate categories.

These include, but are not limited to, funding to increase the potential of aquaculture sites and equipment on vessels aimed at reducing emissions and increasing energy efficiency, and professional advice for businesses ranging from marine environment sustainability to business and marketing strategies. Applicants could also apply for funding for projects to carry out research on health safety and wellbeing needs for the sector.

The maximum grant award is £100,000, with the minimum grant award being £500. The application window closes on 10 May and successful applicants will be notified during July.

Applicants must be registered with Rural Payments Wales (RPW) Online, where the application and claims processes can be found. Details of the scheme, including guidance, can be found on the Welsh Government’s website – www.gov.wales/marine-fisheries-grants

Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths said: “I am pleased to be able to make £1 million available to support our marine, fisheries and aquaculture industry.

“The Welsh Marine and Fisheries Scheme offers funding for a broad range of actions which can be vital in helping businesses to take advantage of opportunities and grow.

“I encourage everyone with an interest to visit the Welsh Government’s website to learn more about the scheme and apply by the closing date of 10 May.”

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St David’s Day boost: Pembs creamery launches new Welsh milk price

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PEMBROKESHIRE CREAMERY, which is set to begin production this spring, has used St Davids’ Day to launch its new milk price for Welsh milk.

Using the industry-recognised Liquid Standard Litre the company has announced an April milk price of 38.5 pence per litre.

Pembrokeshire Creamery will be the only liquid milk bottling facility in Wales certified to supply Welsh supermarkets. Ultimately this will be local Welsh milk, produced, processed and distributed from this new development.

Eliminating the need for transporting milk to England for processing, Pembrokeshire Creamery significantly reduces food miles, streamlines the supply chain, creates new skilled jobs in Pembrokeshire, and bolsters local farming communities. This efficiency enables Pembrokeshire Creamery to offer producers who have already committed, and those following the project as it develops, a competitive milk price from April 2024.

Mark McQuade, managing director, Pembrokeshire Creamery said: “It seemed fitting, on St David’s Day, to launch an April milk price for Welsh milk which we hope will be sufficiently competitive to attract farmers from across the region to consider us as a potential customer.

“We will be the only BRC Certified facility to offer Welsh milk that is also bottled in Wales enabling us to offer an authentically Welsh milk supply for Welsh supermarket stores.

“This unique selling point gives Pembrokeshire Creamery, and the farmers who work with us, a strong point of difference in meeting the needs of both retailers and consumers who increasingly value locally-sourced produce,” he said.

The development of Pembrokeshire Creamery has been supported by the Welsh Government and the EU RDP-funded Food Business Investment Scheme. Additional funding has been supplied by HSBC.

(Cover Image: Mark Sinclair)

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Indian baker inspired to make Welsh cakes in Mumbai

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A BAKER based in India has been impressing locals after trying her hand at Welsh cakes, finding inspiration in an old family recipe.

Desiree Bradford, who runs the Goodie Bag Co based in Mumbai, has enjoyed baking the much-loved Welsh treats, despite having no idea what they were supposed to taste like beforehand.

Born and raised in Mumbai, she was given an old family recipe by Mitchell Theaker, a Welsh native who recently moved to the country as the Welsh Government’s head of India.

Desiree said: “It definitely made me nervous; trying to recreate something that Mitch has had since childhood, it was a big ask.

“Also, I had no idea what it actually tastes like. I did enjoy the process – learning about it – that it was meant to be a hardy food for the miners, who carried them in their pockets.

“Mitch was very encouraging with his feedback and after a few trials – I hope I can do some justice to the Welsh cakes.”

She’s also created a fusion to celebrate the coming together of the two nations, in addition to the original recipe – an Indian-inspired rose, cardamom and pistachio flavour.

St David’s Day is being celebrated in Mumbai as the Welsh Government announces that 2024 is the year of Wales in India.

Year-long celebrations will bring the two nations together through a series of events, stories and activities which celebrate the two nations of culture and innovation.  

Food is playing a key part in the celebrations – both throughout the year and at the St David’s Day events.

Alongside showcasing popular brands, such as Penderyn whisky and Calon Wen cheese to a global market, Desiree made more than 1,000 Welsh cakes ready for the St David’s Day celebrations in Mumbai.

Desiree, who also loves to ride motorcycles in her spare time, wasn’t actually sure what the cakes were supposed to taste like. She said: “The first time I made Welsh cakes, I could not gauge if it was supposed to taste like a cookie or a pancake or a scone.

“I had to watch lots of videos on dos and don’ts, it does take some time to understand just how much to cook it, so it doesn’t get dry.

“Since then I have been enjoying the Welsh cakes – especially when they are straight off the pan.”

The recipe came from Mitchell’s grandmother, who was from Ynyshir, and he believes she probably got the recipe from her mother.

Mitchell said: “My grandmother lived in Ynyshir, Rhondda all her life.

“Seeing her Welsh cake recipe, being baked in Mumbai with such love for our Saint David’s Day events, well, it’s really touching.

“To us it’s more than just a set of instructions; it’s a piece of our family’s heart and history that Desiree has honoured so beautifully.

“The timeless appeal of genuine, traditional, home-cooked goodness. It’s a beautiful bridge between our two countries.”

Baking Welsh cakes has even inspired her to learn more about our nation, and even attempt to try more Welsh classics.

“I honestly can’t say that I know much about Wales, but I am definitely inspired to visit and curious to try some other Welsh favourites like the Bara Brith.”

For the latest news and updates on Wales in India, follow @WalesInIndia on twitter and Wales in India on LinkedIn.

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