'Wales is the Place' campaign

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NEW YORK -- The Wales Tourist Board unveiled a travel campaign that brings together more than 35 tour operators, hotels and airlines with special deals and discounts.

The centerpiece of the campaign is a new brochure geared to "one-stop shopping," using the tag line "Wales Is the Place, Now Is the Time."

Raymond Mathias, Wales marketing manager for the U.S., told Travel Weekly that the destination receives about 250,000 visitors from the U.S. each year.

"Somewhere between 5% and 10% of U.S. visitors arriving in Britain include Wales in their trip. We're hoping to increase that to more than 10%," he said.

Several new operators entered the Wales market this year, including Destination Ireland & Great Britain, Legend Tours and United Vacations, which introduced a four-night London & Wales fly-drive priced from $669 per person, double.

Next year, Mathias said, more tour firms will make their foray into Wales. The marketing manager said that U.K.-based Backroads Touring will offer a Wales program, and that Maupintour is expected to create a soft-adventure itinerary in Wales.

The destination, which receives its tourism promotion budget from the Welsh Assembly, will look for more funding in 2002.

"Our wish list will be for $1 million more for promotion in the U.S.," Mathias said, adding that keeping the travel agent community informed is a top priority for the destination.

Its total tourism budget in 2001 is about $31 million.

"Our challenge is to get the first-time Wales visitor. Our repeat business is very high -- at more than 70%."

The hoof-and-mouth disease outbreak that impacted the U.K. destinations this year affected Wales, but by early June, most rural areas were open to the public.

Agents can obtain free copies of the new Wales brochure by calling (877) 899-7199. The tourist board's Web site is at www.travelwales.org.

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