CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES has called on the Welsh Government to invest in ferry port facilities to bring more cruise market customers to North Wales
Figures released this week show that the numbers of overseas tourists passing through the Holyhead port dropped by more than half from 267,000 in 2011 to 231,000 last year.
The AM said a coherent strategy to invest in ferry port facilities in Holyhead was needed as well as a stronger focus on attracting visitors through ports in Liverpool.
CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES AM said:
“North Wales relies heavily on tourism and so the drop off we have seen in overseas visitors over the last few years is very worrying. Wrexham alone has seen a decline in international visitors from 28,000 in 2010 to 21,000 last year.
“North Wales should be more accessible to overseas cruise and ferry visitors with a greater focus on getting them to travel right across the whole region during the course of their stay.
“That’s why we need to see a focus on improving ferry port capacity in Holyhead by investing in better turnaround facilities and moorings. It needs to be part of a coherent strategy which can also attract cruise line visitors when they come via ports in Liverpool.
“New partnerships with groups such as Stena and Irish Ferries need to be constructed with highly targeted marketing initiatives about what our region has to offer visitors from Ireland.
“We also need to develop a greater focus on US visitors who come on transatlantic cruises. A recent Assembly report I helped author highlighted that cruise tourism is the highest growth sector in the developed world, growing at an average rate of 8% over the last 40 years.
“From Snowdonia National Park to the stunning Clwydian Range to the magnificent views on the coastal path, North Wales is a region waiting to be discovered by overseas visitors.
“What we need now is a planned programme of infrastructure investment and targeted marketing to help sell the region to Irish and international visitors on a global stage to get overseas visitor numbers back up over the next few years.”