Wales’s distinct cultural identity is one of its most important assets as a global tourist destination, a UK parliamentary committee has heard.
The Welsh Affairs Committee is examining how to raise the profile and strengthen the brand of Wales after research found that it lags behind England and Scotland in numbers of international visitors. The Nation Brands Index recently ranked the nation 45th out of 50 countries in terms of overall familiarity.
Giving evidence to the inquiry last week, David Anderson, the director of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, said Welsh culture and language had emerged as a “very clear and very loud” selling point during the museum’s own visitor research.
“We have been through a process of developing our brand recently and, as part of that, we have consulted internationally as well as within Wales and the United Kingdom,” he said. “There was very interesting feedback from the German consultation process, which was that Welsh culture and the Welsh language are tremendous assets for Wales because they identify distinction, difference, tradition and heritage in a way that nobody else can offer.”
He continued: “I personally would like to see UK tourism, alongside the Welsh tourism industry, looking at the United Kingdom as four nations, each with very distinctive offers to make. I think that will increase the potential tourism for the whole of the United Kingdom, not diminish it or mean that one is feeding off another.”
Anderson said this should be central to the nation’s tourism strategy. “A strategy of recognising Welsh culture – the valleys and the rural north Wales Welsh-speaking areas, for example – and the diversity of Wales has huge potential, and we should seize it. Amgueddfa Cymru is absolutely 100% there to do that,” he said.
Anderson said more also needed to be done to promote contemporary Wales as a “modern, vibrant society”.
He said: “I worry that we do not say enough – and I would include museums in this – about the very positive present. Museums should not just be about the past; they should be about celebrating the present.”
Rebecca Williams, assistant director of National Trust Cymru, said the branding of Wales needed to be more ambitious about promoting its natural and built heritage.
“For me there is something about maturity,” she said. “When we brand Wales we often think of dragons and daffodils and we absolutely need to move beyond that in the messages that we give off internationally. For me, it is about the connection to nature, to beauty and to history, and about people getting that experience and that feeling – that is what we need to be selling and investing in.”