MWT Cymru’s key role of representing tourism and hospitality businesses across Mid Wales was underlined on Monday when officials and members met with Brecon and Radnor’s elected representatives in the Welsh and UK Parliaments.
The independent organisation, which has 600 members from the tourism and hospitality sectors across Powys, Ceredigion and Southern Snowdonia, briefed James Evans, MS and Fay Jones, MP, on the challenges facing its members, trading conditions and new developments.
Issues discussed included the potential impact on rural Wales of the Welsh Government’s taxation and licensing of self-catering accommodation and a proposed tourism levy, the cost of living crisis and the Mid Wales Growth Deal.
The meeting was hosted by Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water’s Elan Valley Visitor Centre, near Rhayader where MWT Cymru’s chief executive Val Hawkins, MBE, chairman Rowland Rees-Evans, Mid Wales Tourism Forum chairman Steve Hughson gave a overview of the tourism and hospitality sectors in Mid Wales.
Other speakers included MWT Cymru members Mike Booth, attractions manager at Elan Valley Visitor Centre, Greg Loweth, business development manager at the Metropole Hotel, Llandrindod Wells, Ryan Thomas, a director of Llangorse Multi Activity Centre, near Brecon, Helen Howarth, of Brecon Retreat, Sennybridge and Rhys Thomas, from Mid Wales Holiday Lets and Rhayader 2000.
Mr Booth said he was keen to hear how the proposed tourism taxes would fit into the Welsh Government’s vision for industry in 2030, as major expansion is planned in the Elan Valley, supported by the Mid Wales Growth Deal and Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water.
Mr Rees-Evans, managing director of Penrhos Park, Llanrhystud, explained that MWT Cymru has organised a series of meetings with politicians across Mid Wales to brief the region’s members of the Welsh and UK Governments.
“What these meetings has highlighted is the important role MWT Cymru plays in representing the interests of tourism and hospitality businesses and bringing them together to brief and update politicians,” he said.
“Our members range from micro businesses to large hotels and attractions and it’s vital that their voices are heard because tourism and hospitality, together with agriculture, are the cornerstones of the Mid Wales economy.
“It’s essential that we meet our politicians regularly to update them, as there are major issues on the horizon that will impact our membership and Industry.”
Mr Hughson, who also chairs the Event Wales Industry Advisory Group, said: “The tourism sector is an important part of the rural economy of Wales. We very much look forward to working with the Welsh Government to ensure that their policy proposals have a positive impact on this sector and the wider rural economy.”
Both politicians welcomed the “useful” meeting and suggested regular future briefings from MWT Cymru.
“We have heard about the challenges facing the tourism and hospitality sectors here in Mid Wales,” said Mr Evans. “It’s very important that businesses come forward with plans to help these sectors to grow in Mid Wales.
“What would businesses like the Mid Wales tourism industry to look like in 2030? I believe that they, rather than governments, are best placed to shape the industry’s future.”
Ms Jones added: “It was a fantastic opportunity to have a discussion with tourism and hospitality businesses from Brecon and Radnor. I want to continue working with MWT Cymru to ensure that the powers that be in Westminster and Cardiff really understand and support these sectors which are absolutely critical to the rural economy.”
Brecon and Radnor MS James Evans and MP Fay Jones with MWT Cymru chairman Rowland Rees-Evans, chief executive Val Hawkins, operations manager Zoe Hawkins, Mid Wales Tourism Forum chairman Steve Hughson and MWT Cymru members Rhys Thomas, Mike Booth, Ryan Thomas, Greg Loweth and Helen Howarth.