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Tourists love Welsh language says Zip World founder as he urges shift away from ‘sheep, wet weather and rugby’

15 Jun 2022 4 minutes Read
Sean Taylor, Founder and President, Zip World, gives evidence

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.”

‘Love Welsh’

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.”

‘Premium message’

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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The Original Mark
The Original Mark
21 days ago

I’d agree, along with giving BBNP a serious kick up the arse, if you check out sites that tourists would go to for information, everything stops at Brecon, There is nothing to see east of Brecon, No cycle or walking routes, no neolithic standing stones, not even a bus service, we are one of the forgotten villages.

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
21 days ago

Thousands have just filled Hay on Wye for the LitFest and last time I looked we were still “east of Brecon” as are the Offa’s Dyke Path, Wye Valley Walk, and the finest ridge walk in Wales.
Can’t do much about they neolithics. No time machine you see.

The Original Mark
The Original Mark
21 days ago
Reply to  Kerry Davies

oops! west of Brecon, but you do prove my point, we have all that you list, apart from the lit fest, yet on all the touristy sites not a mention.

Mandi A
Mandi A
21 days ago

Maybe the people who enjoy Wales aka West of Brecon are not the sort who want touristy sites, maybe they enjoy the hills, the rivers and the quiet away from urban areas. The Wales Coastal Path, St. David’s Cathedral, the Gower, Pembrokeshire, Tenby, castles, ancient abbeys and country churches, and yes, loads of archaeological sites, none of these are hard to find or secret places hidden from the kinds of visitors who love Wales. Visiting Wales should be about restoring mental health and breathing fresh air, not about monetising and branding.

Mandi A
Mandi A
21 days ago

Theme Park Wales, an old chestnut since the artists discovered Wales and you couldn’t go to Switzerland because of the Napoleonic Wars. I thought we were trying to build a nation – confident, caring, well educated and self-sufficient, not a marketing website like Wales is no more than the Lake District. Portmeirion and Ffestinog Railway are household names going back generations that have never had to market themselves. Our village was sold out today passing a planning application for an upmarket hotel, like Abersoch, flyers through the letterbox offering to buy the house from under us, “your property has been… Read more »

Richard
Richard
21 days ago

Now these are the real voices of Welsh Tourism – Not Janet F Saunders and her band of Llandudno Promenade hospitality cheer leaders .

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
21 days ago

Firstly, we in Wales cannot control the wet weather. If we could I’d order a cloud to be permanently over Shaun Taylor’s head he’s so wet. Secondly, the old sheep joke is used again, ha ha, so funny. This man’s wittier than a clown who argues his nose is red because of his alcoholism. And thirdly, only rugby used no Shirley Bassey or Tom Jones mentioned in his repertoire. of Welsh stereotypes? Pity. And lastly, the Welsh language needs no help from a man whose business plan is a glorified cheese wire between two mountainsides.

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
21 days ago

Time to move on from tourism and build a real economy.

Dafydd
Dafydd
20 days ago

An Owain Glyndwr blockbaster fel Braveheart might help put Cymru on the map – awesome Welsh talent here! Imagine our national assets Luke Evans, Michael Sheen, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta Jones, Mathew Rhys, Iwan Rheon, Owen Teale, Jonathan Pryce, Owain Yeoman, Ioan Gruffudd,Rhys Ifans, Mark Jones, Alexandra Roach ….stepping up to the plate to get Cymru on the map?

Eifion
Eifion
20 days ago

Why are the soccer lot so chippy? Get once in a century success and then talk down other sports especially rugby….

JAD
JAD
19 days ago

That’s all well and good Mr Zip World, but please explain to us why your website is in English only?

Rob
Rob
19 days ago

The problem is we Welsh have not only acknowledge these stereotypes but we have also gone along with them. Scotland and Ireland have done well promote their nations to the world, whereas some of us in Wales only feel pride when we get a mention by an English celebrity on TV. Of course it doesn’t help when we have plenty of people saying ‘I’m Welsh but I prefer to call myself British’, and it doesn’t help when you used to have Tourist Guidebooks from the 1980s describing Wales as ‘Britain’s best kept secret’. Thankfully these attitudes are changing, Wales is… Read more »

George Bodley
George Bodley
19 days ago

This article makes me laugh yes we should be using the original name for our kingdom it then shoots itself in the foot and says Welsh a Saxon word instead of cymraeg very odd

Last edited 19 days ago by George Bodley

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