Rebranding ‘miserable’ Wales ‘comical’ and language ‘incomprehensible’ claims Janet Street-Porter
Attempts by tourism bosses to rebrand Wales is a “comical idea” because the country is “wet and gloomy”, the people treat tourists as a “bloody inconvenience” and the language is “incomprehensible” according to Janet Street-Porter.
The Daily Mail columnist claimed she was “force-fed” the Welsh language – despite signing up for S4C’s series cariad@iaith where celebrities are tasked with learning Welsh.
At the time she said that appearing on the programme would prove wrong those who accused her of being anti-Welsh, but she returned today to claiming that the “Welsh language is incomprehensible and one of the hardest in the world to master”.
“I even took part in a TV reality show where I was locked up in a derelict Welsh village for a week and force-fed language lessons from dawn to dusk,” she said.
Although she praised Wales’ “wonderful scenery, divine solitude, and lush green fields” she added that Wales could not be rebranded as the nation could be summed up by “grey skies. Grey granite chapels. Grey sea”.
“At the risk of sounding racist (I am half Welsh), re-branding the place as a jolly land welcoming visitors with open arms is a nigh-impossible task that piles of cash won’t change,” she said.
“I won’t mention the lack of decent food, the miserable inn keepers and hoteliers outside the big cities, the attitude that you (as a visitor) are a bloody inconvenience. Why choose Wales when you can have a laugh in Ireland and get a roaring welcome in the Highlands?
“You might understand why I find the notion of rebranding an entire country – this one in particular – a comical idea.
“You can change the name of Wales, you can write it in pseudo-medieval script, you can emphasis trendy zipwire experiences, designer seaweed cakes, craft beer and socks made from knitted leeks, but you can’t get away from the fact that Wales – in advertising terms – is a hard sell.”
Her comments came after the director of Zip World has said Wales needs to “weaponise” the Welsh language as an “advantage” because the tourists “love it”.
Sean Taylor said that Wales needs a rebrand to make it more attractive to UK and international tourists, and “get away from sheep, wet weather and… rugby”.
Sean Taylor gave evidence to the Welsh Affairs Committee on Wednesday and said the nation should instead promote its adventure tourism destinations, “amazing” food and drink, and numerous heritage sites.
Mr Taylor was joined by Penderyn Distillery chief executive Stephen Davies, Portmeirion Cymru’s Ian Roberts, and Paul Lewin from Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways, who all agreed the country is often “overshadowed” by Scotland, Ireland and England due to its comparatively “weak” brand.
“It’s a complicated and long-term strategy how we build brand Wales, and I think we definitely need to get away from sheep, wet weather and – even as a president of my local rugby club – rugby as well. Because football has come to the fore now,” Mr Taylor said.
“If you look at the brand in Wales it is fairly weak compared to the Irish brand and the Scottish brand in particular.
“At the moment, I think we get overshadowed quite a bit. You’ve got the Royal Family down in London, you’ve got tartan and Loch Ness in Scotland and in Ireland you’ve got Guinness.”
Other suggestions included more use of the country’s name Cymru, rather than the English version Wales, and putting an emphasis on the Welsh language.
“The language needs to be weaponised as an advantage, not a threat,” Mr Taylor said.
“I feel like there’s often negative connotations about the language. But our international and English visitors love the use of the Welsh language.
“We get school groups from England and by the time they leave they can say ‘bore da’, ‘prynhawn da’, ‘croeso’. They love it, they embrace it.”
Zip World has three locations in North Wales, one of which is home to the fastest zip line in the world.
Mr Roberts, from Portmeirion, the Italianate tourist village, said: “We’ve always put a strong emphasis on the culture, tradition and the language. Over 90% of the people who work in Portmeirion speak Welsh.
“We believe that tourists who come to Portmeirion enjoy hearing the language and they enjoy hearing that it’s a vibrant and alive language.
“We think it could be used more, including the use of the term Cymru other than Wales,” he added.
“As we’ve seen with the Welsh football team, they’ve really developed, on and off the pitch, the use of the Welsh language, and the use of Cymru has been a huge factor in that.”
The businesses called on the Welsh Government to increase its tourism budget, as it is a devolved power, to improve communication about Wales’ identity and why people should visit.
Mr Lewin, who manages the UK’s longest heritage railway, said: “We don’t have a crisp, clear proposition for Wales. And a brand for a country will need to be built on a common theme.
“On a day like today it is shouting out at us that what is common to all the tourist attractions in Wales is the setting. It is the wonderful environment, the wonderful scenery and how accessible it is compared to many other places.”
Penderyn boss Mr Davies, who is soon to open a third distillery in Swansea and exports Welsh single malt whisky to over 40 countries, said: “Actually when you come across the Severn Bridge you don’t feel you’re in a country that’s selling itself.
“There’s a huge opportunity to improve communication with visitors that do come into Wales, because they’ve come here, they’ve made the effort, let’s keep them here or bring them back.
“And to sell a much more premium message to people thinking of coming but who haven’t been here yet.”
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Of course it’s incomprehensible if you’ve never learnt to speak it. She seems to think that English people have a right to understand it without any effort at all on their part. I thought she was supposed to be clever?
She is clever, but clever doesn’t make you intelligent; or a pleasant person 😉
There is a very vast chasm between “being clever” and “intelligence”.
Janet Street-Porter is incomprehensible to most people.What a gob!
Quote: “At the risk of sounding racist (I am half Welsh)”.
….so if an English person had these kind of remarks then they would be racist, but because your half-Welsh that makes it allright does it?
James Whale is of a very similar ilk.Says his mother is Welsh so hes half Welsh then never misses a chance to put boot into us.I say forget your Welsh half as you dont deserve it.Class yourselves as English because it’s what you are anyway.
I would like to hypothesise that Janet Street-Porter (“speaks like Charlie the cat with a mouth full of marbles” q. Charlie Brooker) finds that she encounters lots of people who treat her as a “bloody inconvenience”, especially when she steps outside of the cosseted media bubble she has existed in for decades now. After all, this is a lady who could give Boris Johnson and Donald Trump lessons on being obnoxious as a brand. From her deeply lame “edginess” in the eighties and nineties (she always came across as that “cool aunt” who is one bottle away from full-blown alcoholism… Read more »
Great comment Cathy
Well folks, the philosophers say that ‘we see things in terms of how we are, not how they are.’ In other words, we colour everything we see with our own personality. It doesn’t surprise me that Porter has called wales ‘grey skies. Grey granite chapels. Grey sea” these words speak volumes about Porter! She has given us a perfect self-portrait in these words! Or – to put it another way, these words are like an ex-ray of her mind! These words confirm what I’ve always thought about Porter, she’s got more self-confidence and ego than perception. She’s dull and embarassing… Read more »
Lets face it janet street porter hasnt had anything interesting or relevant to say about anything since the early 80s when she was a ‘yoof tv’ pioneer. And her journalistic ‘career’ is now at such a low ebb she’s reduced to seeking a nomination for the AA Gill award for anti welsh bile.
Very strange when Wales starts asserting itself the the establishment wheels out the “half-Welsh” to attack. They have no clue about Wales or what’s going on here I bet she even owns a holiday home here!
Says the horse who sounds like she has multiple golfballs in her mouth when she opens her yap.
This says everything one needs to know about one irrelevant, ignorant bigot who’s intent on self-promotion. Having heard her speak (English, I was told) her complaining that Welsh is incomprehensible is really rather rich.
Well, Greek is incomprehensible, if you haven’t been taught, but the Greeks have given us wonderful things. Cymraeg gives us wonderful things too………..
So does English. Don’t respond to the poison.
I watched the series she was on. She was terrible, awkward, sulky, ignorant and quite frankly useless throughout the whole show. She has also admitted that she had a terrible relationship with her mum (a welsh speaker).
I would suggest her negativity is more about her own personal failure to connect with her mum rather than anything to do with Cymru.
I’ve always suspected that to be the case, based on things she’s said in the past about her mam’s use of the dreaded Welsh language. Bigotry is very often a product of neurosis. And her ‘self-confidence’ is actually arrogance. She contributes nothing.
Does anyone under 40 have any idea who this Janet woman is and why she’s a thing?
I have only ever heard of her because she is a raging bigot.
Let her retire from… whatever it is she thinks she’s doing.
She’s famous for being famous and no more.
Unfortunately it takes a few more than two brains cells to learn another language. Welsh is no different from any other langauge, if you can’t speak it it’s incomprehensible – D’oh !
I find most Welsh incomprehensible because I don’t speak it (unfortunately) and am hopeless at learning languages (unfortunately). I am, though, half Welsh and proud of my ties with Cymru.
Of course speaking Welsh would be difficult for her as she can barely be understood speaking her own language.
There’s nothing so sad as a person that denigrates their own background and family history, all too common a trait with conservatives like her. Ingratiating toadies, Uriah Heap types.
Inferiority complex, methinks.
The Daily Mail columnist, say no more.
Silly person, best ignored.
I always deplore such anti Welsh bigotry but I’d mind a bit less if she wasn’t from Llanfairfechan.
JSP – so long out of Wales and so many marriages and relationships later she should come back to her Penmaemawr roots and see the real
Cymru of her mam who so loved her language….. a few personal issues I fear 😧
Then don’t come here then, 1 less miserable, arrogant, patronising, humourless human being we in Cymru have to suffer.
….”force-fed” the Welsh language.
And the Welsh people were asked nicely if we would like to speak English, were we?
Great! another person I hate that doesn’t like Wales! Lets hope she keeps her promises and doesn’t come here ever again, although I feel sorry for the Irish, she prefers going over there. I wonder if it’s her Welsh or English half that has the miserable, ignorant attitude? Also it’s her mother that’s Welsh, she was born and raised in England and obviously never taught her mother’s tongue, perhaps her mother didn’t think she deserved to speak it, lucky us! I wonder if she speaks Irish then? seen as she thinks they are a much happier nation to visit, I… Read more »
Oh drabetsi, drabetsi; mae’n debyg bod Ms STREET-PORTER wedi bod wrthi eto! Wn i a fyddai ambell i sesiwn o Therapi Gwybyddol o fudd iddi hi ynghylch ei phrofiadau o Gymreictod pan oedd hi’n blentyn? ~ Oh dear, oh dear; it seems that Ms STREET-PORTER has been at it again. I wonder if some sessions of Cognitive Therapy regarding her childhood experience of Welshness might help her?
So this irrelevant woman thinks that the Welsh language is “incomprehensible”. The words “pot’, “kettle” and “black” spring to mind!!
Memo: to Janet
gellir crynhoi’r sefyllfa yn dwt ac yn addas gyda hen ddywediad morgannwg ,
cas gwr na châr y wlad a'i maco '
the situation can be summarised succinctly and aptly by an old glamorgan saying , loathed be he that loveth not his native land ‘
It’s not her native land.
The simple answer – Ignore her and avoid the DM. They mean nothing to Cymru.
Oh dear Ms Porter. You have my deepest sympathy. If you think this about Wales what on earth do you think about England? You think you are clever & intellegent, but probably you are the only person that does. why are you so mean & nasty?
“Half Welsh” No matter where you were born or who you are birthed by, you are not Janet you old racist, you are English through and through, and not the good ones who embrace our culture.
Her critics should calm down. Negative articles like this can do more to deter Daily Mail readers from moving to Wales than any rally by Cymdeithas. Ignorant bigots like her can be the most useful of our idiots!
We love Wales we took my mum a couple of years ago to Porth Madoc we had the best holiday ever. The people were friendly the food wonderful and it is a beautiful place. JSP is a judgemental fool and ignorant and rude, Take no notice of an odious person, listen to people who love Wales. By the way, we are not Welsh but we will try and learn some Welsh next time we go.
….a laugh in Ireland … welcome in Scotland… what do people get when they visit England – she didn’t say! Imperialist attitude we all should ignore; it is ingrained in some people, like all racists they are closed, think they have a right to say what they like, cariwch ymlaen!
If shes that desperate for the publicity, she should say something nice, she may even feel better about herself if she did.
What do you get when you visit England?…electronically tagged !
Ms Porter, thank you for putting off your ilk from visiting us. Gentry only, please.
Keep the good work up Janet and help too keep the anti Welsh scumbags out of our wonderful country we certainly don’t want your type in Cymru
I mean, Welsh is mostly “incomprehensible” to me too, like the hundreds of other languages I haven’t learned. Like English is to most of the world’s population. What an odd thing to say.