HC Deb 20 December 1982 vol 34 cc653-4
3. Mr. Hooson

asked the Secretary of State for Wales when he last met the chairman of the Wales Tourist Board; and whether changes in future tourism policy were discussed.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

I meet the chairman regularly. The last occasion was on 10 December when, together with members of the board, we discussed a range of issues, including the board's priorities for 1983–84.

Mr. Hooson

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that sufficient Government funding for tourism will be available in the coming year to meet the need?

Mr. Edwards

At the meeting on 10 December I pointed out to the board that the developments that have taken place in the urban programme under the UDG scheme mean that there has been a substantial increase in available resources for the tourist industry. I cannot anticipate exactly which applications will be accepted under the UDG scheme, but if a number of them are, there could be a substantial proportionate increase in the total finance available for the tourist industry in Wales.

Mr. Hudson Davies

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the contribution that can be made by tourism in many parts of Wales is significantly greater than the contribution that can be made by manufacturing industry? Is there not still a wide disparity between the sums available for tourist activities and those available for manufacturing industry, and is not that a gross distortion of the needs of certain rural areas?

Mr. Edwards

The financial support and other arrangements for the tourist industry are currently being reviewed. However, specific applications before me at present illustrate that the total financial package available for specific projects can be very substantial indeed.

Mr. D. E. Thomas

Exactly what role has the right hon. Gentleman's Department played in this review? Has there been an independent assessment within his Department of the role of the Wales Tourist Board, particularly overseas, or has that been subsumed by the review that has been undertaken by the Department of Trade?

Mr. Edwards

The two things are taking place in parallel. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State is working closely with the Under-Secretary of State for Trade on the overall review. I have maintained discussions with the Wales Tourist Board about the strategy document that it is preparing. It hopes to submit a final version of that document, which will be the basis for discussion, early in the new year.

Sir Anthony Meyer

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the admirable success of the Wales Tourist Board in improving the image of Wales as a tourist destination has to some extent been at the expense of cheaper family holidays at the bottom end of the market? Will he encourage the board not to forget that many hundreds of thousands of families like to take a cheap holiday and would like facilities at the bottom end to be improved with the assistance of the tourist board?

Mr. Edwards

That is absolutely right. Some of the recent improvement schemes sponsored by the tourist board in some of our older seaside resorts have precisely that object in mind, and the opening of the new tourist office in London will be an added spur to encourage that kind of tourism in Wales.