HC Deb 27 June 1988 vol 136 cc5-6
7. Mr. Gregory

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what are his current estimates for the number of tourists and the value of tourism to Wales and the number of overseas visitors to the Principality; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Wyn Roberts

The Wales tourist board estimates that in 1987 approximately 12 million tourists visited the Principality and that, within this figure, some 570,000 were from overseas. Expenditure data for 1987 are not all yet available, but are likely to show a significant increase on the £600 million estimated to have been spent by staying visitors in 1986.

Mr. Gregory

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Is he satisfied with the reliability of the tourism statistics for the Principality? Will he comment on the resources available to the efficient Wales tourist board?

Mr. Roberts

My hon. Friend is right to say that there is some concern about the quality of data on tourism statistics, so the Government have commissioned Panell, Kerr and Forster to review the statistics, and its report is expected shortly. Since 1983 overall net resources for the Wales tourist board have risen by 90 per cent., and this year it has some £9.21 million at its disposal, of which £3.32 million is for section 4 assistance.

Mr. Wigley

Will the Minister accept that of the tourists coming to Wales those from overseas represent only half the proportion that they constitute in the United Kingdom in general? If anything is to he done about that, there needs to be a massive assault on this market. Can he confirm that the WDA will be allowed to work in conjunction with the Wales tourist board on projects of importance to tourism in Wales, including helping to fund the opening of offices outside Wales in places like Stratford, Oxford and Bath, which could be of relevance in attracting overseas visitors to Wales?

Mr. Roberts

I can confirm the latter point. The hon. Gentleman will know that we are concerned about having effective arrangements for overseas visitors, and these have been achieved by my right hon. Friend, in conjunction with the British Tourist Authority. As a result, people with specialist knowledge of Wales are in key overseas locations such as Frankfurt, Dublin and New York.

Mr. Alan Williams

The Minister will accept that we all welcome extra tourists to our country, but does he recognise that, nationally, four of the 10 lowest-paid occupations for women are within the tourist industry? Is he aware that, of all the regions, Wales has the lowest paid employees in hotels and catering, the sort of coolie economy-type of wages about which the Secretary of State was talking? As he is thinking of expanding that industry, which is dominated by part-time and seasonal work, what action does he intend to take to protect the conditions of work and the pay of those people in the industry, or does he expect them to continue to work for a pittance?

Mr. Roberts

Tourism is one of the most important industries and is, of course, a substantial employer. Some 90,000 people are employed in tourism and my impression is that the employers pay what the industry can afford. That, of course, will continue under whichever form of Government we have.

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