Wales talks about social tourism

Social Tourism Roundtable, 5 April 2017 at School of Management, Swansea University

Group photo2 - delegates Round Table - 5.4.17 (002)


April saw the first roundtable discussion on social tourism in Wales, Professor Nigel Morgan, Chair in Visitor Economy Management at Swansea University, brought together a wide range of interested organisations to discuss the benefits and issues around social tourism.

The group included Mari Stevens, Marketing Director, Visit Wales and Wales’ deputy chief medical officer Dr Chris Jones.  David Stephens from the Welsh Government and Lee McRonald of Visit Scotland together with John Kinnear, the Family Holiday Association programme manager, gave a presentations.  Pdf copies are available below –

Social Tourism – The situation in Wales

Social tourism and VisitScotland

Discussion Points covered during the meeting included

  • Consider cross government group to look at wider strategy and coordinating strands
  • Involve NHS from the start
  • VisitWales would be the hub but could not be the delivery agency
  • Tie pilot objectives into strategic objectives, Supporting the local and the away and Help families/people on ‘social tourism’ holidays and day trips know about ‘fun outdoors’ and engaging with the National Heritage of Wales – free/low/no cost; May include skills and awareness raising of the referring body. Lots of policy on this i.e. ‘Creating an Active Wales’.
  • Exploring existing models such as spice time credits and relationships with lots of partners in Wales and UK
  • Start small, be realistic and look at impact!
  • Could we establish a pilot scheme
  • Replicate Visit Scotland scheme or develop a Wales-specific model – would that be Day trips, activities, short breaks?
  • Database of charities that offer short breaks in Wales
  • An evaluation framework will be important – this means having agreed outcomes right from the start.
  • Methods/Tools need to be informed by research principles – elements such as triangulation.

There are four areas of impact that the roundtable agreed upon

  • Impact on the individuals and families involved – health and wellbeing
  • Impact on business – word of mouth, additional visitors, reputation, staff satisfaction, revenue – and related to this, research on spend by social tourism participants
  • Impact on destination – support for small or emerging regional destinations, impact on seasonality and year round employment, etc.
  • Impact on other sectors – reduced pressure on other services such as health and social

It was clear that there is quite a bit of research on the first two – the human / wellbeing – but not on the other two areas. It was agreed there was a need to understand all areas of impact, the human / inclusive case, which should and is the main focus for social tourism, but also the secondary benefits for industry and destination and other sectors.

Professor Morgan expects that the Welsh social tourism agenda will now move forward after what was a great start. He hopes that there is scope for his team at the University to organise a follow-up event and he will be looking at this over the coming weeks.

The Family Holiday Association was delighted to take part in the discussion and will be delighted to support any moves to create a pilot programme that can learn from the experiences of organisations such as VisitScotland and English DMOs such as Visit Kent.


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