NEWPORT, Wales – In 2019, Wales welcomed 121,000 visitors from the United States. The figure was only a small part of the 4.5 million American visitors who went to Britain that year, but it represented a big jump of 21% over 2018.
Now, with restrictions on international travel running out, New Jersey-sized tourist promoters would like to chart a path to put Wales further and at the center of the minds of American travelers so they can recover. the mojo they had in 2019.
“People generally don’t know about Wales,” acknowledged Stephen Nase, Visit Wales ’director of marketing for North America. “I still meet people who think Wales is part of England.”
The conversation addresses the travel mentality of golfers, as well as the benefits and challenges of convincing American golfers to play in Wales.
New York-based Nase was among the Visit Wales contingent that attended the International Golf Travel Market (IGTM) conference on the outskirts of Cardiff from 25 to 27 October. Before the trip, he led a small golf-oriented family showcasing some of the best golf courses on the Welsh coast.
In fact, the promotion of Wales ’26 maritime links courses is a key part of Visit Wales’ strategy to make new forays into the US market, said Jason Thomas, director of culture, sport and tourism at Wales. Wales, during the IGTM.
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“Golf itself is a reason to travel. We know people do it,” he said.
But golf is far from the only attraction on offer in Britain’s smallest nation.
There are more than just golf courses in Wales
Wales has more castles per square mile than any country in the world. It is the only country in the world that offers an adjoining walking path that covers the entire coast, the 870 miles. Thomas and Nase also boast of the beautiful mountains, beaches and natural parks of Wales; its unique cultural heritage; the fact that the native Welsh language is still commonly spoken; and about a culture of accommodation that includes manor houses and luxury castles.
Nase pointed to the upward trajectory that Wales had as a destination for American visitors before the pandemic. The country’s 121,000 U.S. visitors in 2019 rose from 73,000 in 2012 alone, he said, which had been done during those years in part by working with a growing group of tour operators that included Wales on longer itineraries than they also presented England. and Scotland.
But, he said, part of that progress has been lost because tour operators have first targeted their main partners as they emerge from the pandemic.
“We have a lot of work to do to rebuild it and get people to travel again and look at Wales again,” Nase said.
How to get to Wales
A structural challenge of selling Wales to American travelers is that the country does not have direct air service from the US Nase, however, he stressed that the capital Cardiff is only two hours from London Heathrow, while the heart of North Wales is only one and a half. Manchester hours. The ferry service from Dublin also offers visitors to Holyhead, on the west coast of Wales.
Thomas said Visit Wales intends to focus its next promotional investment for the US market on digital advertising, with a particular reliance on influencers.
The budget for more family trips for tour operators and travel advisors is also on the charts, especially for golf-oriented trips.
And Nase said Visit Wales does a lot of training on products for the travel trade. The DMO has an online training program for travel advisors called Wales TravelPRO.