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Overseas visitors to Wales lower than before Covid-19 pandemic

18 Nov 2023 3 minute read
Colourful houses in Tenby.

Emily Price

The number of visitors to Wales remains lower than before the Covid-19 pandemic, new figures have revealed.

New data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows there were 12 percent fewer inbound visitors to Wales for the first two quarters of 2023 compared to the same period in 2019.

There were 403,000 inbound visits to Wales between January and June this year and £188 million was spent by visitors from overseas.

Whilst this was up 1 percent in cash terms, the inflation adjusted figure represents a reduction of 20 percent in real terms.

In London there were 9.5 million inbound visitors – down 26 percent on 2019.

For the rest of England there were 6.9 million overseas visitors which is 9 percent less than the 2019 number.

However, visitors to Scotland have increased by 28 percent in the same period with 1.7 million visits recorded by the ONS.

Commenting on the figures, Welsh Conservative Shadow Tourism Minister, Tom Giffard MS said the Welsh Government should rethink the planned introduction of a visitor levy for Wales.

The Welsh Government has said allowing local authorities to raise tax from their visitors will “encourage a more sustainable approach for tourism”.


Mr Giffard said: “While Labour Ministers try to fudge the figures to hide the true extent of their failure, the hard statistics lay bare their lack of ambition for Welsh tourism.

“The Labour Government have comprehensively failed to attract visitors to Wales post-Covid, they would rather hit the industry with their toxic tourism tax and 300% council tax premiums for self-catering accommodation businesses to appease their nationalist cooperation partners.

“We are underperforming compared to our neighbours and rivals and it comes on the heels of another damning report earlier this year showing that Wales has failed to develop a distinctive tourism brand.

“We recently launched a Welsh Conservative positive vision for the sector which would stop Labour’s harmful tourism tax, invest in skills gaps in the sector and take the tourism and marketing arm out of Government control, and into the hands of experts.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Tourism makes an important contribution to the Welsh economy and to Welsh life.

“We are ambitious for Wales as a tourist destination and we are continuing to work with communities, visitors and businesses to achieve sustainable growth for tourism across the country, especially during the ongoing cost-of-living and cost-of-doing-business crisis in the face of prolonged high inflation.

“By promoting our outstanding landscapes, culture and adventure offer, strengthening partnerships with consumer media and online travel agents and tour operators, we are targeting visitors through our award-winning Cymru Wales brand.”

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7 months ago

What is Mr Gifford rambling on about? There is no tax at the moment. And I have no idea what the Welsh cons would do apart from have a gurning contest and vouchers for the toilet or something.

7 months ago

Interested to know what “a distinctive tourism brand” for Wales would look like from the Welsh Conservative Party. Considering their brand of politics is based on doing exactly the same as the UK Gov and never calling for Wales to make any policy choices different to those of London. For example, how would Wales be advertised by a Welsh Conservative Party as different to England in multiple ways, to create this attractive “distinctive tourism brand”?

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