HC Deb 18 March 1991 vol 188 cc1-3
1. Mr. Gregory

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is his estimate for the current year of the value of tourism to Wales; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister of State, Welsh Office (Sir Wyn Roberts)

In 1989, the last year for which complete figures are available, Wales's earnings from tourism were around £1,500 million—an increase of some 25 per cent. on the previous year. It has also been estimated that the industry provides some 95,000 jobs in the Principality, approximately 9 per cent. of the total. There are, of course, other benefits—including the protection and enhancement of our culture, environment, and heritage. The tourism industry is, therefore, of considerable importance to, the Welsh economy.

Mr. Gregory

I agree with my hon. Friend the Minister that the figures are most attractive, particularly bearing in mind the employment possibilities. Is the Wales tourist board co-operating with the private sector as much as possible to provide a true partnership between state and private sector? Bearing in mind the Gulf crisis, is the Wales tourist board doing everything possible to regain the confidence of overseas tourists and encouraging them to visit Wales?

Sir Wyn Roberts

The Wales tourist board collaborates closely with the private sector, and has the use of section 4 grants amounting to some £3.2 million this year. It uses part of that money to support its local enterprise and development programme, which is part of a wider strategy over five years which is expected to generate £73 million of investment and to create 2,000 jobs. The programme is on course to achieve that target. I confirm that the Wales tourist board is working closely with the British Tourist Authority in seeking to attract visitors to the United Kingdom.

Mr. Gareth Wardell

Will the Minister join me in praising the cleanliness of the beaches of Gower, which the recently published National Rivers Authority report gives a clean bill of health in respect of last year's bathing season? In congratulating Swansea city council, the National Rivers Authority and everyone else on their efforts in ensuring the cleanliness of Gower beaches, can the Minister tell the people of Wales how he proposes to help them to pay the higher poll tax bills that bring that particular benefit?

Sir Wyn Roberts

The Gower is a much-admired part of the country, and the hon. Gentleman is honoured to represent it. I am delighted to hear him sing the praises of Gower beaches. I would also praise the Llandudno beaches in my constituency. The proposals for bringing our beaches up to European standards of cleanliness fall within the responsibility of the National Rivers Authority and Welsh Water. The hon. Gentleman will know that the population of Wales are also most anxious that Welsh beaches should meet the highest standards, so they should be able to contribute towards achieving that.

Sir Anthony Meyer

Is my hon. Friend the Minister aware that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales is to visit Bodelwyddan castle on 29 March for a recording of "Any Questions?" Will my hon. Friend the Minister remind our right hon. Friend of the importance of that cultural landmark and of the inadvisability of premature steps being taken by Clwyd county council which might put in jeopardy the viability of that enterprise?

Sir Wyn Roberts

I, too, have visited Bodelwyddan castle. It is indeed an attractive castle, with a superb exhibition of pictures from the national portrait gallery. It is the responsibility of the Labour-controlled Clwyd council and I understand that there has been some doubt about the future of the castle. It is a matter for that local authority to resolve.

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