A 10-year plan to promote Wales launched by the assembly government.

Published: Wednesday 7th Apr 2010

Written by: Gareth Mahoney

Best of Wales can reveal a  10-year plan to promote Wales as a destination for big name sporting, musical and cultural events is being launched by the assembly government.

Ministers want to capitalise on high-profile events like golf’s Ryder Cup in Newport in October as a way to promote home-grown festivals and attractions.

The strategy aims to identify “mega events” such as the Commonwealth Games.

Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones said: “Now is the time to build on this success.”

In recent years Wales has hosted six FA Cup finals, the Rugby World Cup and the Wales Rally GB.

Last year the Ashes cricket test series between England and Australia opened in Cardiff, while this autumn Newport is to host golf’s prestigious Ryder Cup tournament.

RANKING BIG HITTING EVENTS Cardiff hosted the Ashes in July 2009 Major Events International events that are not “owned” by Wales and would mean international competition. Examples: an Ashes test match, rugby’s Heineken Cup Final and the Mobo (Music of Black Origin) Awards Signature EventsRecurring events which enhance the image and cultural identity of Wales. Examples: Hay Festival, the eisteddfodau, Royal Welsh Show; and newer events such as Green Man and Wakestock festivals Mega Events Like major events, they need a major bidding effort and demand a high level of government resource and support, often requiring new venues, such as the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup Growth Events Regional, local or ambitious new events with potential to become major or signature events. An example would include the Cardiff Half Marathon Source: Welsh Assembly Government’s Event Wales, Developing a Major Events Strategy for Wales (2010-2020)

Every year Wales also hosts a series of “signature” events which attract international attention such as the Hay literature festival, the Royal Welsh Show, opera star Bryn Terfel’s Faenol festival, as well as the Llangollen international eisteddfod and the national and Urdd eisteddfodau.

This year the Faenol estate in Gwynedd also hosts BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend free music festival in May.

The assembly government is proposing a major events strategy offering targeted support for these events as well as encouraging “growth events” such as the Cardiff half marathon and the Wales International Harp Festival in Caernarfon.

Mr Jones is to unveil the strategy at the harp festival, which calls for a “more coherent and strategic approach” to promoting major events in Wales.

He said the aim was to create a “sustainable portfolio of world class events”.

He said: “From the 1999 Rugby World Cup to the Ryder Cup this year, the past decade has seen a range of major events hosted successfully in Wales.

“These have brought many economic, social and cultural benefits and enhanced our reputation as destination for top class events.”

He said it was necessary to have a “sound platform for Wales to continue competing to host these events and grow our own in an increasingly competitive global market.”

Cardiff Business School lecturer Dr Calvin Jones, has studied the economic impact of major sporting events.

He welcomed the strategy but said the assembly government would need to be sure it was offering the right depth of advice.

‘Uncertain returns’

He said: “What you need to avoid is offering a very shallow, notional support.

“Event management is very complicated. It has very specialist skills and it does not necessarily follow that because the assembly government has money that it it has the necessary skills.”

He cited the Rugby World Cup and the Wales GB Rally as events that took hold without the assembly government’s initial involvement.

“There are others which have been the result of the assembly government’s actions, such as the Ryder Cup, but they were rather unclear in their rationalisation on why we attracted them or how they are evaluated.

“The assembly government has spent a lot of money in the past on event support, with uncertain returns.”

Dr Jones cited the Hay Festival as an example of an event that “ticks all the boxes”.

  The Hay Festival originated in 1987 and has grown into a landmark event‘It’s not about money it’s about people’ says Hay chief

He said it had “grown organically, was locally managed, punched on a world stage and was interested in local policy issues”.

An assembly government spokesman said the proposed strategy aimed to address the “ad hoc” nature of previous major event targeting and to promote a partnership approach to attracting and hosting future events.

Last month the assembly government highlighted figures from National Golf Tourism Monitor suggesting the economic impact of golf tourism for Wales in 2009 increased by 18% from 2008, to a total value of £34.7m.

Simon Price, 42, rock critic for the Independent on Sunday newspaper and a biographer of Manic Street Preachers, said one of the reasons he left south Wales as a teenager was its lack of music scene.

‘Big bands’

Now living in Brighton, he said: “I’m very envious of people growing up [in Cardiff] now. When I was there, there was pretty much nothing.

“Wales did not seem to be on the itinerary of touring bands. When bands were on the way up, they would play Cardiff university and the CIA but once they reached a certain level, that was it, we would never see them.

“That all changed in the mid 90s with the ‘Cool Cymru’ and all that. It’s changed a lot. There has been definite improvement but there is room for more.”

Peter Florence, director of the Hay Festival, said one gap in Wales’ cultural calendar he had identified was a rock festival to rival Glastonbury, Leeds and Reading.

He said: “It seems an obvious thing to do.”

Gareth Mahoney



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