§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Ednyfed Hudson Davies (Conway)
I am glad to have this opportunity to draw attention to several issues connected with the organisation of tourism in Wales and, in particular, certain aspects of the work and resources of the Welsh Tourist Board. It is an opportunity to develop in rather more detail arguments which I first put forward in the Welsh day debate in November last year.
One of our greatest national assets in Wales is our tourist potential. We have scenic beauty, open spaces, moorland, mountains, lakes and rivers, sandy beaches and rocky coves. Whether one is searching for rest or recreation, for a quiet holiday or the bustle of a lively seaside resort, all these can be found in Wales.
The extent to which our tourist potential has been developed is not inconsiderable. Tourism is at present the fifth most important industry in Wales, with a turnover estimated to be approaching £60 million per annum. Our share of the British domestic market is considerable. Last year, no fewer than 12 per cent. of British holidaymakers came to Wales, a startling figure when it is remembered that Scotland, with its much greater area and its long tradition of tourism, attracted rather fewer, only 11 per cent. of British holidaymakers.
This is a respectable record, and all credit must be given to the contribution made by the Welsh Tourist Board. But we have only scratched the surface. There is immense scope for further growth, and this is a critical moment for tourism in Wales. The field is highly competitive We are in competition not only with other parts of Britain, but with other countries abroad, and, if we are to make full use of the opportunities for growth which are open to us, the time has now come for a radical change in our approach to tourism in Wales.
There are two fundamental requirements. One is that we should adequately publicise what we have to offer in a thoroughly professional manner. I have recently come across in the House the belief that Wales is a land of coal mines and slag heaps. Misconception of this 2007 kind is, I am afraid, all too widespread still. Both throughout the rest of Britain and abroad there is much that needs to be done to project the true image of Wales and what it has to offer.
Second—this is possibly even more important than publicity—our tourist facilities and what we have to offer must be developed and improved. Standards have to be improved and maintained. Sometimes they are deplorably low. New investment must be directed to the right kind of tourist service and facility. There must be constant research into the demands of the market, into the question of exactly who is the tourist who comes to Wales, and what he is looking for.
These two functions, publicity, on the one hand, and development, research and the sponsoring of tourist activities within Wales, on the other, cannot be successfully undertaken separately by separate bodies. What is required is one body adequately financed and responsible for the total development and promotion of tourism in Wales. We do not at present have in Wales a body which is equipped to meet all these requirements.
I am quite happy—I hope that the Minister of State agrees—that the presentation of Wales abroad should be left mainly in the hands of the British Travel Association. This organisation, closely controlled by the Board of Trade, which last year received a grant of £2 million from the Treasury, describes its own primary function as attracting overseas visitors to Britain, and I gather that Wales has been very well represented in its overseas publicity. Perhaps my right hon. Friend can throw further light on that and the precise extent of the coverage given to Wales.
There has, however, been another development recently about which I am far less happy. To stimulate the domestic tourist trade within Britain, it was intended that the British Travel Association should receive a grant of £1 million to be spread over three years. Because of the squeeze, that did not get fully under way, and last year the B.T.A. received, I think, only about one-tenth of the £330,000 it expected. I gather that this year there is a prospect that it may get the full amount, and that it will spend the money on publicising various parts of Britain. No doubt it will use organisa- 2008 tions such as the Welsh Tourist Board as its agents.
I consider it to be highly unsatisfactory that the B.T.A. should be responsible for sponsoring in turn say, the South-West, Scotland, Wales and various other parts of Britain. That should be a local and regional function. The essence of successful advertising is that it is carried out by people who are committed. The B.T.A. would undoubtedly be impartial in its attempt to project each area in turn, but that kind of thing should not be done impartially.
The Welsh Tourist Board, either in its present form or in an improved and extended form, should have direct responsibility for the sponsoring and publicity of Wales as a tourist country. It cannot hope to do so adequately on its present finances. It is in no sense an official Government organisation, but is a voluntary organisation, deriving the bulk of its income from the contributions of its members. During the year ended March, 1966, it received nearly £14,500 from local authorities which were members, £3,500 from hotels and catering establishments, and £11,000 from the B.T.A. as a contribution towards overseas publicity services. Excluding a research grant received by the Board, its total income for that year was £44,000.
The tourist boards of Northern Ireland, Jersey and the Isle of Man, each with a smaller holiday industry than Wales, receive well over £100,000 each from their respective Governments, while the Welsh Tourist Board must rely almost entirely on the support of its members. Although it attracts a smaller share of the British domestic market, Scotland receives from the B.T.A. over £50,000 per annum, whereas Wales received only £12,000 last year. Even if the assessment were made on the basis of the number of overseas visitors coming to both countries, that would still not be a fair allocation. It is true that Scotland has about twice as many overseas visitors as Wales, but it receives from the B.T.A. a sum four times that given to Wales.
If ever proof were required of the inadequate finances of the Welsh Tourist Board, it is that it had an overdraft at the end of last year of £14,500. That overdraft was allowed by the bank simply because the Board's chairman, who is 2009 dedicated to its interests and happens to be very wealthy, was willing to stand as personal guarantor for that sum in his private capacity. That is the kind of financial difficulty which the body sponsoring tourism in Wales has to face, and it is evidence that something needs to be done urgently.
This is a very critical time in the development of tourism. The days are over when the function of a tourist board consisted of the preparation of brochures. What is now needed is a tourist development corporation with the power and finances to publicise and develop tourism and co-ordinate the whole industry.
The success of Northern Ireland in tourism is very largely to be attributed to the fact that publicity and development, including control over grants and investments, has been vested in one authority. France is now in the process of reorganising her tourist industry in that way, through regional development schemes. But in Wales we have a medley of different authorities. The Board has in the past been primarily concerned with publicity. During the last two years it has opened out into the field of research, and has done this very successfully. It has been able to quantify the field to assess what kind of resources are now available and show how the trends of the market are changing and what is changing in the requirements of visitors. But investment allowances are controlled by the Board of Trade, with the creation of local employment rather than the development of tourism as such being the critical consideration.
The committee appointed to approve grants to those hotels which can claim that they can improve their standard of service for overseas visitors has no connection whatsoever with the work of the Tourist Board. In any case, the minimum loans of £20,000 are much too big to be of any great use in Wales, where the majority of tourist units are relatively small and do not come into this category.
The Sports Council has a finger in this pie. It is looking into some tourist aspects in Wales quite independently of the Tourist Board itself, carrying out a survey of recreational facilities in Wales.
Again, there is an overlap between the Tourist Board and the National Parks Commission—an overlap but apparently 2010 no liaison, as is illustrated by the fact that both organisations were quite unknown to each other planning to build an information centre in the village of Betws-y-Coed, in my constituency.
This fragmentation of responsibility towards tourism is fantastic in an industry where there is so much potential for growth. I do not here in any way criticise the work of the present Board. Within the limits of its resources it has done an excellent job. But what is needed now is a much more powerful body closely linked with the Welsh Office, with overall responsibility for tourism in Wales, adequately financed for the purpose and representing all the interests involved in the tourist industry.
The links between the Welsh Tourist Board and the Welsh Office at present are very tenuous. Such Government money as comes to the Welsh Tourist Board, other than the research grant, comes via the British Tourist Association from the Board of Trade with no direct involvement by the Welsh Office. This is certainly a field in which the Welsh Office should be very closely involved, and I hope that the Minister will say something about this. Such a development corporation should be responsible, for example, for all national and regional publicity. I think that strictly local publicity is very often carried out best by the local authorities themselves, and certainly things like information services should be carried out at the local level but perhaps with supervision from the development corporation.
A region like North Wales is very much a unified region from the point of view of tourism. I am somewhat disturbed by the fact that, following the Cole Report, the Board's activities have been divided among so many different area associations. There may be a danger that in increasing the machinery we are not necessarily increasing effectiveness. I wonder whether the Minister has any views on that.
The Board, incidentally, could well have its headquarters in North Wales in that two out of every three visitors to Wales go to North Wales rather than South Wales. I am not at all certain that its headquarters should be in Cardiff.
The Board ought to have adequate research facilities. The present grant for 2011 research was for a three-year period—£40,000. Two of the years have now passed. Before long that research project will come to an end. What happens then? Tourism is a constantly changing field, and the maintenance of standards of service and amenities cannot be separated from continued research into who the tourists are and what kind of service, accommodation and amenity they are looking for. The work carried out by Mr. Michael Reece, of the research unit, has shown clearly, for example, that the demand for self-catering accommodation is increasing. Without knowing this kind of thing, it is impossible to plan for the future.
But research must go on all the time and it must go on hand in hand with growth and development. Will the Minister tell us what the prospects are for research in the future? One cannot expect to retain the services of highly-skilled research workers when their future may be in some doubt. In view of the startling success of the present research project, I hope that we shall be given some assurance that in future research will become a permanent feature of the work of the Tourist Board in Wales and will be closely interlinked with the day-to-day work of the Board and will not be something of an appendage.
In Scotland, the Highlands and Islands Board has indicated the direction in which tourist organisations should go. There the Board is able to co-ordinate and advise, and it is also spending £1 million, I believe, on building five hotels of its own. In Northern Ireland the tourist board is strong enough to have been able to bring sufficient pressure over the question of S.E.T. to ensure that 50 per cent. repayment is made to the tourist trade. The grants in Northern Ireland are such that it is still a reasonable proposition to invest in the tourist industry there. This is not happening these days in Wales, and that is not because the market for tourism in Wales is any worse than that in Ireland. It may well be better.
A tourist board should be able to provide extensive advisory services to local authorities and to hotels. It should be responsible for running courses in off-season periods for hotel and catering staff. It should control tourist amenities. 2012 It should supervise the maintenance of standards. It should be thinking about what kind of off-season industries could be introduced into tourist areas to ease the problem of winter unemployment. It should be able to advise the Government on where and how much investment is needed in the tourist trade.
Tourism is composed of relatively small units—hotels and local authorities. If each of these is to have a sense of direction and an understanding of how it should develop, this can be achieved only through the guidance and encouragement of a body which has made it its concern to understand the total field and to understand how each unit fits into the overall picture. Until we realise that tourism is very big business, calling for an adequately financed central organisation of the most professional kind, there is no prospect of our making anything like the use that we can make of the national resources with which we have been blessed.
I very much hope that the Minister will give some indication that the Welsh Office will be tackling this problem. What prospect have we of a tourist development corporation? I very much hope that something will be done about it, with a body which will work in very close liaison with the Welsh Office and which will have the financial resources which such a body must have if it is to carry out its task effectively.
§ 4.19 p.m.
§ Mr. David Gibson-Watt (Hereford)
May I make a short intervention in this debate, which has been rightly initiated by the hon. Member for Conway (Mr. Ednyfed Hudson Davies). I hope that he will allow me to congratulate him on a thoughtful and most interesting speech on a subject of which he has clearly made a close study.
This is also a subject which we discussed in the Welsh Grand Committee a week last Wednesday. I am well aware that on that occasion it was not possible for the hon. Lady the Minister of State, Welsh Office, who is to answer the debate, to give us a very full answer to some of the questions which we then put to her about the tourist industry. To be fair, the main subject on that occasion was the new town in Mid-Wales, but when we deal with rural development, as the 2013 hon. Member rightly said, the question of tourism arises straight away. The hon. Gentleman put it very well when he said that tourism was a multiplicity of small businesses, but at the same time was big business. It, is big business, and it needs investment.
I do not intend to discuss where that investment should come from, whether it should come mainly from the Government, or mainly from free enterprise. Perhaps I should confess an interest in this subject. I know from personal experience how much income and how much employment tourism can bring to a part of central Wales where there is a continuing problem of depopulation.
The hon. Member rightly spoke of the beauties of our country, and I think that he will allow me to add that there are certain characteristics of the Welsh people which make us highly adaptable and suitable to receive guests and visitors from the rest of Britain and from abroad. Wales is famous for its love of home and equally famous for its hospitality and it is in the type of hospitality which we extend to visitors that we shall make our name.
In speaking of the beauty of Wales and the type of tourism which we are attempting to produce, it is not out of place to mention the work done over the past many years, and I mention the name of Mr. Clough Williams-Ellis and the excellent taste which he has brought to Port Meirion, which is typical of how some far-seeing people have added their weight to the success of Welsh tourism as it is today.
Not long ago, the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. James Griffiths) and I went to see an excellent colour film which described what Wales had to offer in hospitality. I remember the occasion very well. It was at a time when the majority in the House was rather smaller than it now is. On that occasion, the usual channels worked very well and the right hon. Gentleman and I were able to get away from the House for a couple of hours to see this excellent film.
It showed not only our coast and rivers and mountains, but also the sort of fare and hospitality which Wales has to offer in many areas. Films of this sort can be of great value in projecting the correct 2014 image of Welsh tourism, not only in Britain but abroad under the aegis of the British Travel Association and other organisations.
The debate is concerned with the financial and administrative set up of the Welsh Tourist Board. One of the questions which I asked a fortnight ago was what the Government intended to do about the Board, and I reminded the Government that in 1964 the Board was given £40,000 to do some of its work. What the hon. Gentleman has said merely underlines the Board's financial difficulty and no doubt the hon. Lady will be able to say something about that.
On the administrative side, I make only this plea—that whatever changes are envisaged, the Board's membership will still come from a wide selection—wide both geographically and by virtue of their calling—of men and women who understand what tourism is about and what good taste is about. By good taste, I mean good food as well as good architecture. It is also necessary to have on the Board one or two people who are what in rough terms can be described as businessmen or businesswomen.
As the hon. Gentleman said, this is very big business. Not long ago the Welsh Tourist Board undertook an important advertisement exercise at Waterloo Station. Many of us were able to visit it and I am sure we should congratulate the Board on what it did to popularise and advertise Welsh tourism. It was an excellent place to carry out this operation. It is interesting to hear the hon. Gentleman point out, quite rightly that the percentage of British holidaymakers coming to Wales was higher than those going to Scotland.
Our Scottish friends are not here; they have gone north of the Border, by aeroplane, rail or road. It was interesting to hear on the midday B.B.C. news that the only traffic block of any serious consequence in the whole of the country was between London and Wales. Again, this augurs well for Welsh tourism at Easter. I must return to this question of the east-west road. I still believe, not withstanding arguments against it, that we should concentrate on lateral east-west roads, to make it easier for people coming to Wales, not only for tourism but for light industry.
2015 I hope that at some time, when economic conditions are easier, the Government may see their way to giving a high priority to this question of an east-west road, coming from somewhere in the Shropshire area and going out to Cardigan Bay. I often think that we suffer a disadvantage in the geography of our airports. Very often people from overseas, from North and South America, say, "Yes, we are coming to Europe next summer, and we shall spend four days in London, four days in Paris, four days in Frankfurt and go on to Rome."
It is difficult, once sightseers are in London, to get them back to Wales. I hope that I am not talking through the back of my head when I say that there might be an argument, in long-term thought, for producing an airport which would be the next step on from Shannon. I am not saying where it should be in Wales; this is a difficult matter. It would give an opportunity for our overseas friends to see Wales. We should not under-estimate the number of second, third and fourth generation Welshmen living today in the United States, Canada and South America.
I must touch on two matters which are hurting tourism in Wales and to express the hope that the Government may see their way, even in the coming month, to putting one of these two matters right. First of all, there is the Selective Employment Tax. I will not labour it today. The Budget is not far away, but there is not an hon. Member on either side of the House who does not realise the great damage that S.E.T. has done to the tourist industry.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. We cannot discuss in detail, on the Adjournment, matters which can be remedied by legislation.
§ Mr. Gibson Watt
I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to refer to it very briefly. I will not go further. I hope very much that this matter will remain in the Government's mind.
There is also the question of development areas. The constituency of the hon. Member for Conway is affected by the present drawing of the development area lines. We know that of all hotel space in Wales 40 per cent. is situated in 2016 Llandudno. It is unfortunate that this area and other areas which depend on the tourist industry are not included in the development area if—and I emphasise the "if"—the development areas are to be as widely drawn as they are.
I touch on these matters because they could greatly help the Welsh Tourist Board in its efforts to increase and encourage tourism in Wales. I hope that the hon. Lady will be able to tell us what success her right hon. Friend has had in talking to his colleagues about financial support for the Board. She may remember that in the debate in the Welsh Grand Committee she said:My right hon. Friend is having discussions with his colleagues in the Government about a further contribution to the Welsh Tourist Board and arrangements to make a special effort in rural Wales …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Welsh Grand Committee, 15th March, 1967; c. 540]I hope very much that she will have something to say on this subject today.
For fear of shortening the tourist season for those Members who have remained in the Chamber, may I conclude that I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to say these few words.
§ 4.31 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Welsh Office (Mrs. Eirene White)
It is perhaps appropriate that the last Adjournment debate preceding the Easter holiday should be on tourism. I congratulate most warmly my hon. Friend the Member for Conway (Mr. Ednyfed Hudson Davies) on his well-thought-out, very lucid and extremely well-informed speech. He has done a great service to the tourist industry in Wales as well as to his own constituency by taking this Parliamentary occasion to raise the matter. As my hon. Friend rightly said, there are other parts of Wales in which tourism is of great importance, but it is true that the largest numbers of tourists go to North Wales. I should be correct in saying, I think, that of those who go to North Wales the largest number goes to my hon. Friend's constituency.
I am glad that we have had the opportunity of this brief discussion, although I wish in some ways that my hon. Friend had been fortunate enough to raise this subject, not on this occasion, but a little later, because I am not in a position to reply as fully as I would have wished to 2017 some of the questions which have been put to me. However, I will do my best to make clear the attitude of the Government and, in particular, of the Welsh Office to the tourist industry. We recognise very well that the greatest hope of development for many parts of Wales probably lies in improving their attractions to tourists both from within other parts of the United Kingdom and from overseas.
There has been concern in Wales for some years about the organisation of the Welsh Tourist Board under its various names. There was a very important Report by the Council for Wales when that was in existence, and this was followed by the Cole Report. We are now having further discussions with the Tourist Board as to its future.
It is clear from what has been said, and it is well known to us, that we cannot expect great progress without some further financial contribution. If anyone looks at the latest published report, he cannot fail to be concerned at the financial position depicted in it. I refer in particular to the point to which my hon. Friend drew attention. For the year ending 31st March, 1966, which is the latest date for which we have figures, the total budget was a little short of £60,000. There was an overdraft of rather more than £14,000, which is a substantial sum. It is indeed unsatisfactory that the Chairman of the Welsh Tourist Board should have been put in a position in which he felt that he had to guarantee the overdraft personally as a private individual.
We all appreciate the tremendous public spirit shown by the present Chairman, Mr. D. J. Davies. I would like to take this opportunity in Parliament of paying tribute to him, not merely for this extremely generous action on his part, but also for the quite outstanding amount of work which he puts into a voluntary and honorary position. We are all deeply indebted to him for this.
We are fully aware in the Welsh Office that the situation is not satisfactory and that the finances are not adequate. I wish that I could tell the House this afternoon in exact terms what we propose to do. Unfortunately, I am not in a position to do that. Although the conversations which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has been holding 2018 with the Treasury and with the Board of Trade, who share responsibility with him for this industry, are, I believe, on the brink of a happy conclusion, they have not reached the point at which figures can be disclosed. I can, however, say that it is intended that a substantial increase should be made in the amount of money which will be available for the Welsh Tourist Board and that with this assistance, for the details of which we will have to wait until after the Recess, it will be possible for the Board not only to extend its activities, but also to strengthen its staff.
We all know of the quite devoted work of the staff of the Board, but it is plain to anybody who has paid any attention to what it is trying to do that it cannot do what is needed in Wales without considerable strengthening. We hope very much that the extra resources which are to be made available will make it possible to provide the additional staff of very high quality, which, we are sure, are needed to do justice to the tourist requirements of Wales.
One aspect of finance which my hon. Friend touched upon and to which the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Gibson-Watt) also referred is the special grant of £40,000 over a three-year period which was given for research. This money did not come through the British Travel Association but came direct from the Welsh Office. We are, naturally, concerned that this work of research should not come completely to an end at the end of the three-year period. There is still one year to go and arrangements have not yet been made to determine exactly how this work should be carried on or how it should be financed. I assure the House, however, that we are well aware that this is not something which can be done over a three-year period and then be dropped entirely.
Most valuable work has been done under the direction of Mr. Michael Reece, whom some of us know. It is being done not only on a functional basis, particularly concerning accommodation and types of accommodation which are available. Surveys have also been carried out in depth in certain areas of tourist interest and I understand that reports are being made to the authorities concerned.
For example, I shall be going in a few weeks' time to Tenby and I believe that 2019 before I reach there the report of the research unit on the position in Tenby will have been received and it may be possible to discuss it. Caernarvon, Aberystwyth, Bala, Llanidloes and Rhayader are among the places which have been examined and others are about to be examined. These localised surveys can be of special value in the places concerned, so that they can see how they stand in relation to the provision of accommodation, catering standards and in other respects.
I think that this is very necessary and something which must be continued, because, as my hon. Friend said, the pattern of the tourist trade changes and the move towards what it calls self-catering holidays has become very marked indeed over the past few years. If we are to keep abreast of tourist developments, we must make sure that there is adequate accommodation of this kind available, well kept, and at reasonable prices.
As I think all of us know from our own constituencies, people nowadays who previously would have been satisfied with, perhaps, a few day trips in the course of a holiday at the seaside now go abroad. They take their cars to the Continent, and they know very well what is provided for them in France, Italy, Spain, and so on, and they come back very much more critical than they would have been 10 years ago, or even five years ago, perhaps, because the numbers going abroad are increasing year by year.
Therefore, if we are to succeed in attracting more people, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer wishes, to take their holidays at home we must be quite certain that the accommodation provided is of a kind which will compare favourably with what they can find when they go to the continent of Europe.
My hon. Friend asked a number of questions about publicity. Here, I think, we are all in agreement that the overseas publicity should be undertaken centrally by the British Holidays Association, because it would be thoroughly uneconomic for each part of the country to try to do its own. I have here, for example, one of a whole series of very well produced publications on holidays in Britain. It has an excellent section on holidays in Wales. I am not sure that 2020 I myself would have recognised "Walisischer Lachsfischer" as "the Welsh salmon fishers" if that had not ben pointed out to me and "Die Beruhmte Tal-y-Llyn Kleinbahn" is also slightly startling, but I think there is no doubt that Wales has a fair share of the overseas publicity. It is not possible to have a precise breakdown of the expenditure but Wales has £250,000 a year, it is calculated, spent on publicising overseas Welsh holiday facilities.
There is a very difficult problem of publicising Wales within the United Kingdom, and I quite take the point of my hon. Friend when he says that this ought not to be unbiased or impartial, but quite the contrary. I think that the new arrangements made for strengthening the resources of the Welsh Tourist Board will make it possible for it to do even more than it is doing already to provide attractive information about holidays in Wales. There is a series of excellent publications, including a very good one on outdoor activities such as, camping, pony trekking, fishing, mountaineering, walking. I think anybody who could resist the enticing descriptions in it must be very hard to please indeed.
My hon. Friend raised some very much wider questions about the multiplicity of organisations dealing with tourism in Wales, and I appreciate the point that he makes. It is, of course, the fact that there are many bodies which have some interest—Government Departments, the Welsh Office itself, and the Board of Trade. He mentioned also the Sports Council and the National Parks Commission, and there will be the new Rural Development Board, which will have certain responsibilities for improving tourist facilities in designated rural areas, and there are the local authorities themselves, and so on.
It is quite true that more could and should be done to co-ordinate all these various activities. On the other hand, one would be well advised to look carefully before suggesting that there should be one monolithic organisation doing everything—publicity, research, information and also development. I should have thought that there was room for strengthening at the centre, certainly, but that one should recognise that there is some value in having a specialist approach as well.
2021 I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be very interested in the comments on this matter made by my hon. Friend. I know that he has some ideas of his own of bringing the Welsh Office perhaps a little more in contact with some of these organisations than it is at the moment. I can assure my hon. Friend that what he has said today will stimulate further thought in the Welsh Office about a subject on which we are very much engaged at present.
The hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Gibson-Watt) touched upon another matter which, as you have pointed out. Mr. Speaker, we cannot discuss in detail. This is the problems raised by the Selective Employment Tax for the tourist areas not only of Wales but of other parts of the United Kingdom.
Mr. Speaker having pointed out that we cannot discuss them in detail, I do not wish to do so beyond saying that we are aware that there have been difficulties in areas which do not receive the manufacturing "bonus", but which are dependent on tourism and on rural pursuits generally for their well-being. That is something on which it is possible that something may he said perhaps before too long—
§ Mrs. White
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will have noticed the guarded phrase which I used.
We are concerned about the well-being of Wales, particularly the rural and coastal districts, and we are very anxious that the good reputation which we have in many respects for our tourist provision should be improved and enhanced. We can all think of certain hotels, restaurants and even small cafés and public houses where we can go with great pleasure knowing that we shall be welcomed and able to enjoy ourselves. These may be such distinguished places as Port Meirion, to which the hon. Member for Hereford referred, being the imaginative conception of Clough Williams-Ellis. Those of us who had a chance to stay there have enjoyed it greatly. However, there are also the more 2022 simple places where one knows that a happy and comfortable time will be had.
On the other hand, there are other places where we are not so likely to be comfortable, well fed or well received. Although the number of such places is diminishing, there are still some. It is in our interests in Wales that there should be none, and that wherever one goes one should be sure of having a warm, clean, well furnished place in which to have a good meal at a reasonable price and receive value for money.
I was delighted the other day to go to Llandrillo, where the North Wales Catering School is held. With members of the Welsh Economic Council, I had an excellent meal, which was well cooked, well chosen and very well served by students of that establishment. This is something that we should all encourage. I hope very much that the local education authorities who are responsible for such things will make certain that we have adequate facilities for young people to be encouraged to go into the catering industry as a skilled profession, as it is, and not as something that one goes into because one cannot think of anything else to do.
Catering is a highly-skilled profession. It is one for which I should have thought our Welsh people were very well equipped. We are hospitable by nature, but we do not always manage to translate that private hospitality into service to the public. Training in catering, and in the hotel profession generally, is something to which we could pay greater attention than perhaps we have done in the past.
I do not feel that I should detain the House from its own holidays any longer. I would have liked to have been able to give the financial details for which my hon. Friend asked. I can only request him to be patient just a little bit longer, when I think that he will have information which should be heartening to him and to all who are concerned with the holiday industry in Wales.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Adjourned accordingly at nine minutes to Five o'clock till Tuesday, 4th April, pursuant to the Resolution of the House of 20th March.