Economy Secretary, Ken Skates has met with a group of travel agents from Japan who are in Wales for a whistle-stop, five-days-tour of the country to gather ideas for future tours of Wales.
The meeting took place at Bodnant Welsh Food Centre- on the group’s first full day in north Wales - having visited Cardiff for the Wales Vs Japan rugby match on Saturday.
The Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) is an influential group of key travel agents. In 2015 they chose Conwy as one of the 30 prettiest places in Europe which spurred joint promotion of Wales and Conwy by Welsh Government, JATA and local partners.
Visit Wales’ annual research with the UK and overseas travel trade shows that work with key Japanese operators is now achieving results - approximately £42,000 was generated in 2015, despite a slight decline for the number of visitors from Japan coming to the UK as a whole.
Statistics provided by JATA also show the positive impact that the 2015 award has had on visits to Conwy. Following the award, 8 Travel Agents included Conwy in their tours from April – June 2016 which resulted in a total of 592 visitors – compared to 0 visitors on JATA tours from Japan in the previous 6 months.
The Economy Secretary, met with the Vice President of JATA Jungo Kikuma, who is also chairman of Asahi Travel International Inc. during his visit to Japan in October. In welcoming the group back to Wales, he said:
“Saturday’s fixture was an another opportunity for us to celebrate the great links that Wales has with Japan – and as our exports to Japan are increasing year on year – we’re also seeing increased interest for Wales as a holiday destination.
“The visit from JATA follows on from the fantastic news we had last month when north Wales was named as one of the top ten places in the world to visit in 2017. This is a coup for north Wales and is a great marketing tool for next year.
“Overseas visitor figures for the first six months of 2016 look very positive with 15% growth in the number of overseas visits. The figures also show that while there has been a small decrease in expenditure across the UK as a whole, expenditure by overseas visitors in Wales has increased by more than 8%. Familiarisation visits for influential overseas tour operators, as well as presence in key travel trade events such as the recent World Travel Market are extremely important in helping us grow the numbers of overseas visitors to Wales and our share of the overseas visitors coming to the UK.
“The increased profile for Conwy in Japan following the award by JATA in 2015 was an excellent platform for us to promote Wales in a relatively untapped market and to spread the word on what Wales has to offer - we look forward to a continued relationship with this influential group.
“Next year will be the perfect time for Japanese visitors to come to Wales - to help us celebrate the Year of Legends in 2017. During the year we hope to bring our past to life like never before and create new Welsh legends."