Written Statement: Responsible tourism

As we embark on the 2023 tourism season, this statement sets out the support we are providing to local communities to balance the economic, environmental and social benefits from tourism.

Tourism helps to connect Wales with people from across the world. It makes a positive contribution to all aspects of Welsh life – helping to create prosperity, confidence, employment, cultural regeneration, environmental appreciation, health benefits, and fun.

The future of our industry goes hand-in-hand with the future of our communities; what is good for visitors can be good for local people. Our aim is to ensure tourism contributes to Wales’ economic, cultural and environmental vitality, and helps to create a healthier, happier Wales.

Sustainability is the heart of our Welcome to Wales strategy, which focuses on seasonality, spend and spread. This encourages growing off-peak tourism, encouraging visitors to stay longer, spend more and promoting the quieter tourist spots. Working in partnership – with local authorities, national parks, businesses and communities – is key to achieving this.

Addo was first rolled out in summer 2020 as a campaign to encourage responsible tourism; it has now evolved into a long-term initiative that encourages people in Wales and visitors to make a promise to care for Wales. With two overarching strands, Addo is based around Bro and Byd – to encourage positive behaviour and to encourage us to care for our communities, embrace new experiences, support local businesses, and be a thoughtful visitor, planning and leaving no trace of our visit behind. We also encourage people to be considerate visitors – respecting the land, follow the Countryside Code – there is a wider environmental messaging woven in around choosing more sustainable ways to travel. 

Last year, we piloted the Sustainable Tourism Wales campaign, with a core aim to help tourism businesses realise their green ambition. It focused on five key areas – water, waste, supply chain, energy and travel to help businesses improve their sustainability and help towards Wales becoming Net Zero. We are continuing this work into this year.

We support sustainable tourism through our capital investments. The 2023-25 Brilliant Basics fund prioritises strategic investment in key tourist destinations. The £5m fund for 2023-25 will help to deliver small-scale infrastructure improvements in strategically important tourism locations across Wales, helping to alleviate pressure points or reduce in pressure in popular tourist areas.

We are looking to develop new or transform existing infrastructure to make destinations more environmentally sustainable, helping to reduce the carbon footprint and support projects that remove obstacles and barriers within a destination and improve access to facilities for all.

We strive to keep Wales and its landscapes beautiful and Welsh Government is working on a several new laws and schemes to help reduce waste and prevent littering. Extended Producer Responsibility will mean those companies which make packaging will have to cover the cost of dealing with it once thrown away, including if it is littered. We hope this will reduce the amount of packaging used and ensure it is less environmentally damaging.

For the last three years we have funded Keep Wales Tidy (external link) and local authorities as part of the Caru Cymru programme to look at ways to prevent people from littering. 

The Senedd has passed the landmark Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Wales) Bill. It will ban several commonly littered single-use plastic items in Wales and create a new offence of supplying or offering to supply specific single-use plastic products. We hope this will reduce plastic pollution at its source.  We will also be introducing a deposit return scheme for drinks containers.

We continue to work towards giving local authorities the powers to introduce a visitor levy – this would be a small charge for overnight visitors, which would be re-invested in local communities to enhance the visitor offer. Visitor levies are common in destinations around the world and, closer to home, Manchester has just introduced a £1-a-night levy.

Visit Wales continues to work and engage with key stakeholders to reinforce its key messages. Through our marketing – and particularly the Addo campaign – we hope to influence people to enjoy and to respect the places they visit and to consider sustainability in all parts of their stay.

This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns I would be happy to do so.