HC Deb 18 March 1991 vol 188 cc10-1
10. Mr. Simon Coombs

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the development of the Welsh tourism industry.

Sir Wyn Roberts

The Welsh tourism industry has made very considerable progress in recent years. Better marketing and provision of the infrastructure essential to tourism development have undoubtedly improved the quality of our tourism product. For this I must give credit to the roles of the Wales tourist board, the development agencies, local authorities and of course the private sector, which is the main engine of wealth and job creation.

Mr. Coombs

I invite my hon. Friend to join me in emphasising the importance of tourism in rural Wales. Does he agree that a significant feature of the rural tourism industry in Wales is the availability of section 4 grants long after they have been done away with in England? How much is being spent in the current year on section 4 grants? Can he assure the House that those grants will continue to be available throughout Wales in future?

Sir Wyn Roberts

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. He is right to state that section 4 grants are important to Wales. We are spending £3.2 million on them this year through the Wales tourist board. As I said earlier, the grants are essential to the development strategy of the Wales tourist board, which ends in 1994. I am aware that my hon. Friend was a member of the Employment Select Committee which took a view on section 4 grants. However, I believe that tourism projects in England are legiible for regional selective assistance and grants from other sources.

Dr. Marek

Will the Minister accept that the development of the tourist industry depends on efficient train services, particularly into north Wales? Will he impress two things on British Rail? First, there should be no back-up buses should trains be full in the summer when reorganisation comes—instead, there should be adequate rolling stock for all services in north Wales. Secondly, north Wales needs a third high-speed train set to provide the standard of service that we have at the moment. I hope that the Minister recognises that the proposed two sets will provide the boat train services and that there will be only one service in each direction between north Wales and Euston as a result of the proposed reorganisation.

Sir Wyn Roberts

I am impressed by the fact that British Rail is only too anxious to meet demand. It lays considerable stress on demand. The new timetable and new rolling stock which it will provide for the service to north Wales will obviously have to be justified by its use. I do not hesitate to say that if the services that British Rail is to provide prove that it is meeting a market need and that further developments in the service are required, I am sure that British Rail will consider that.