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Tourism figures published today show a significant increase in the volume and spend of overnight visitors from the rest of Great Britain to Wales during 2018.

First published:
6 June 2019
Last updated:

This was published under the 2016 to 2021 administration of the Welsh Government

Figures are for the main official tourism surveys for Wales covering the period January to December 2018. The significant rise in domestic visitors and associated spend was slightly offset by lower numbers of international visitors although spend by International visitors increased.

In the twelve months from January to December 2018, there were 10.21 million overnight trips to Wales by GB residents, which was an 11 per cent increase on the same period last year. During this period the expenditure in Wales was £1,853 million which was an increase on last year by 13.8 percent.

There has been a slight decrease in the volume and expenditure of Tourism Day trips taken in Wales during 2018 compared to the same period last year, with 95.7 million trips taken and related expenditure of £4 billion.

During 2018 there were 941,000 trips taken in Wales by international visitors and expenditure of £405 million. This was a decrease in the volume of trips by international visitors to Wales (12.8 per cent), however, expenditure by overseas visitors to Wales increased by 9.7 per cent to £405 million.

The figures were published as Deputy Minister for Culture Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis Thomas, officially opened new developments as part of a £2.2 million project in Aberystwyth. The project at Vale of Rheidol Railway has been funded, with EU assistance, through Visit Wales Tourism Attractor Destination programme. The first phase of the project is the opening of a new Edwardian style Great Western heritage Station. The next phase will see the old Aberystwyth terminus site re-developed to include a new booking office and carriage storage shed which will be built to allow the priceless collection of historic railway carriages to be stored in a protected environment and aid their long term conservation.

The Deputy Minister, said:

“The domestic market is by far Wales’ most important market and accounts for around 90% of visitors to Wales. It is therefore excellent news that Wales saw such significant increases in spend and increased its share of the domestic market in 2018. Indications from our Easter Wales Tourism Business Barometer also show that this could be a continuing trend into 2019 - as people look to holiday at home.

“Although this increase in the domestic market is to be welcomed, the importance of the international market cannot be ignored and Brexit pressures are clearly having an impact, not just in Wales but on international travel to the UK with most regions of England experiencing a decline in international visitors in 2018. However, the increase in spend from our overseas visitors is to be welcomed during these challenging times.

Looking forward the Deputy Minister added:

“Our work in partnership with the industry to make Wales a competitive and must visit destination will continue - and investment through projects such as the Tourism Attractor Destinations is one example of this. The aim of these projects is to give compelling reasons for people to visit Wales or stay in Wales for a holiday. By attracting visitors to these key sites, the surrounding area will also benefit from further business investment and deliver key outcomes in terms of employment and regeneration.

Robert Gambrill CEO Vale of Rheidol Railway said:

“We have seen an upturn in visitors over the past few years to the point where we have needed to improve our facilities to accommodate this. We are very pleased to have completed the first phase of the TAD program. Everyone involved is very proud of the achievements realised over this winter, a credit to everyone involved. We look forward to seeing everyone for the opening and sharing our lovely new station with them.