Representatives from almost 30 major tour operators – who are responsible for bringing in thousands of international visitors from all over the world to the UK every year – are due to take part in a ‘Discover Wales’ (Darganfod Cymru) event in and around Cardiff from 8-10 October.
The main aim of the event is to introduce the tour operators to Wales suppliers as part of the plan to boost international visitor numbers to the country from key markets such as the USA and Europe, which will help to increase revenue for the visitor economy.
Hosted by Visit Wales, the event will take place between Sunday 8 and Tuesday 10 October in partnership with travel trade association UKinbound, Southern Wales, The Royal Mint, GWR and The Parkgate Hotel. It will see the operators take part in a two-day familiarisation visit which includes key attractions such as Llancaiach Fawr Manor, Nantgarw China works and Museum, Ogmore Castle and Cardiff Bay.
The operators will then take part in a networking event at The Royal Mint and a Business to Business workshop at The Parkgate Hotel, Cardiff, with 30 Welsh tourism and hospitality businesses that include Elm Grove Country House, Hensol Castle Distillery and Dylan’s Restaurants. Dawn Bowden MS, the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism and representatives from VisitBritain will also be in attendance.
Recent research from Visit Wales reveals that tour operators in key markets generated approximately 275,000 bed nights at a value of £17.9m to Wales in 2022. Visit Wales is estimated to have influenced approximately £8.4m of the total value. UK & Irish operators (£11.1m) – domestic and inbound – have generated more than half of the total value, with North America (£3.2m) contributing just short of half of the remainder. Over 70% of those tour operators interviewed are interested in developing or selling more Wales products, with a third of operators having ‘strong interest’.
The Deputy Minister, said: We are delighted to be working again with UKinbound to host Darganfod Cymru Discover Wales. We know how vital the travel trade is to generate tourism business to Wales, especially internationally, and fits our tourism strategy to support the three Ss: seasonality, spread and spend. We appreciate the significant role that inbound tour operators play in taking Wales products to international markets where they are active. I’m sure that the tour operators will leave Wales having seen what a world class product we have here – and we look forward to welcoming them – and their clients – back to Wales soon.”
Joss Croft OBE, CEO of UKinbound said: “These kinds of events are vital for our tour operator members. Being able to experience first-hand the full range of authentic and amazing activities, landscapes and accommodation that are available in Wales means that ultimately they will be able to sell these more successfully to international visitors interested in coming to the UK.
“Equally, these events are a great opportunity for local businesses to establish new valuable relationships with the UK travel trade which will help them to attract more customers and more revenue which is so badly needed following the pandemic.”
Eurowelcome, the largest inbound tour operator for Spain and Latin America will be attending the event. Following discussions with Visit Wales, Eurowelcome, is expanding with a new 2024 series of 10 tour dates touring programme for the North American market including Wales.
Chris Pourgourides, Eurowelcome, said: “We’ve developed a brand new tour to Wales as we’ve been seeing more and more interest in the market for Wales. We’re taking the icons, for example Caernarfon Castle, and mixing them with local authentic experiences and one of my absolute favourites is the Halen Mon sea salt refinery in Anglesey that you just can’t get anywhere else and we think it’s going to tick the box for a lot of what our guests are looking for. The Visit Wales team really helped us in terms of itinerary planning, but also there have been some challenges that we’ve overcome, and we could not have done that without the expertise of Visit Wales. I’m very thankful to the team and looking forward to bringing many people to Wales.”