Resilient Mid Wales tourism businesses praised at annual meeting

The resilience of Mid Wales tourism and hospitality businesses, when faced with a series of major challenges, was praised at the annual meeting of an independent organisation that represents around 600 of them.

“It is fair to say that it has been a challenging time for everyone,” said Val Hawkins, chief executive of MWT Cymru, which represents member businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and Southern Snowdonia.

“We thought that the global coronavirus pandemic had tested our resilience to the limit, but since emerging from Covid lockdowns, we have seen new problems emerge that will undoubtedly lead to long term changes in our sector.

“Challenges include severe staff shortages, supply chain issues, effects of climate change, outbreak of war in Ukraine and the gathering storm of the cost-of-living crisis. The ongoing political dramas hardly help us to navigate an already difficult situation.”

Mrs Hawkins’ reference to “political dramas” relate to the Welsh Government’s changes to the tax criteria for self-catering accommodation, a proposed tourism tax and the statutory registration of all visitor accommodation in Wales.

She told the meeting, held at the Brigands Inn, Mallwyd, that a key part of MWT Cymru’s work was to represent the interests of members by providing Wales Tourism Alliance (WTA) with the latest business intelligence for meetings with Welsh Government officials.

Thanking WTA chairman Suzy Davies and executive director Adrian Greason-Walker, for “relentlessly communicating the needs of our businesses to government”, she added: “Ensuring that our politicians are well-briefed on the challenges facing our industry is more important than ever.”

Mrs Hawkins also reported that MWT Cymru had invested in a new digital platform to support all Mid Wales destination marketing activity and provide members with enhanced business listings and additional online promotional and seasonal campaign tools.

A new Mid Wales Visitor Guide was also launched during the year and will be repeated in 2023 when a Mid Wales Tourism Conference, last held in November 2021, will is set to return.

“Adopting smarter ways of working will be a priority for 2023,” she added. “We will continue to hold regular virtual meetings and webinars, maintaining our online resource on and our social media channels to keep members informed.”

Chairman Rowland Rees-Evans, a director of Penrhos Park, Llanrhystud, also referred to the new challenges facing the tourism industry in his annual report.

“As an industry, we always seem to be challenged at every opportunity and this last year was no exception,” he said. “I genuinely believe that the industry needs help and support, and not the introduction of any new legislation that will put many businesses in an impossible situation.

“Given the new challenges ahead, we all need to be cautious as we move forward into next year and beyond but, as an industry, we will adapt again.”

He welcomed new investment by tourism businesses across Mid Wales and a major project planned in the Elan Valley, supported by the Mid Wales Growth Deal, to develop a destination attraction which would benefit a wide area.

Mike Booth, Elan Valley attractions manager, said: “This is an opportunity to develop a tourism offer that is open throughout the year when people are looking for things to do and increase employment opportunities.”