(Title Image: Generic Drift)
Draft international strategy “a PR exercise”
Delyth Jewell AM (Plaid, South Wales East) took exception to many proposals, or lack of, in the Welsh Government’s draft international strategy. One of the key aims was for Wales to portray itself as a responsible, ethical nation, but this often bore little resemblance to the Welsh Government’s actions – such as the recent arms fair. She believed the strategy often resembled a PR exercise and selected at least eight areas of potential weakness including the green economy, higher education and the Welsh diaspora.
One particular area Delyth Jewell focused on was the lack of reference to the Welsh language “beyond the fact it exists”, and this had to be reconsidered:
“Will you commit today, as a first step, to….overturn your disgraceful decision to refuse to provide Welsh language lessons free of charge to refugees in Wales, a decision that is entirely contrary to the commitment in your refuge scheme and the Noddfa scheme, to ensure that asylum seekers are included in the opportunity to learn Welsh?”
– Delyth Jewell AM
Minister for International Affairs & Welsh Language, Eluned Morgan (Lab, Mid & West Wales), unsurprisingly, rejected these observations. Concerning the arms fair, cyber-security is an important and growing field where Wales has expertise. Contrary to reports, the Minister said that Welsh lessons for refugees haven’t been entirely withdrawn but are instead forming part of a Coleg Cenedlaethol Cymraeg pilot in Cardiff and Swansea.
The Minister added it was difficult to draft a strategy with uncertainties over Brexit remaining.
Shadow Tourism Minister, David Melding AM (Con, South Wales Central), asked about tourism strategy and in particular whether a target of tourism earnings increasing by 10% was going to be met? Wales seemed to do well within the domestic (UK) market, but less so with international visitors. There was also great potential for Wales to take advantage of tourists’ increasing desire for “sustainable”/”green” holidays.
The Deputy Minister was in full agreement:
“I agree with that analysis….I do take the point that we need to emphasise international marketing. We have identified certain countries on mainland Europe, and we will pursue this strategy to make sure that those people are aware that our borders are still open between Wales and England, whatever may happen to the borders of the UK.”
– Deputy Minister for Culture, Tourism & Sport, Dafydd Elis-Thomas (Ind, Dwyfor Meirionnydd)
Giant dome to market Wales in Japan
Ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which starts this week, Andrew RT Davies AM (Con, South Wales Central), asked what objectives the Welsh Government had to boost Wales’ profile in Japan?
The Minister said the primary focus was on promoting Welsh food and drink, using an “unorthodox” method:
“You’ll be aware that we have a nine-foot dome that is going to be placed right in the centre of Japan, which is going to be the centrepiece of our promotional activity. This is about really raising Wales’s profile internationally. Obviously, food and drink is going to be a key part of that, but seeing an increase in the number of tourists will also be a key part of what we’re expecting as a return.
“….What we’ve done is to get people sponsoring the dome and it’s an all-embracing facility where things are projected onto the walls and it’s very exciting and lots of companies have taken the opportunity to promote themselves out there. “
– International Affairs & Welsh Language Minister, Eluned Morgan
There’s also a permanent Welsh presence in Japan via a Welsh Government office, plus a “Clwb hiraeth” of people who’ve worked for Japanese companies in Wales who’ve since returned to Japan and are taking part in promotional activities.