New Tourism Website Puts Wales Ahead of Other Countries in UK; MARKETING: Internet Initiative Seen as Ideal Tool to Boost Holiday Industry
Byline: CARL YAPP
BEAUTIFUL coastline, historic castles, glorious mountains and a legendary warm welcome. Click and it's all yours.
The Wales Tourist Board is launching a website that allows visitors to book a holiday in Wales over the internet.
Although the new hi-tech revolution risks stripping Wales of its romantic element, the internet has proved a vital tool for attracting visitors from home and overseas.
While it is always better to explore the natural beauty of Wales for yourself and not rely on tourist guides or internet advice sites - picturesque valleys outweigh pictures of valleys - the ever increasing competition has brought a need for Wales to be one step ahead.
It is the first country in the British Isles to have a dedicated online booking site.
Tourism is vital to Wales's economy. It is worth 7pc of the country's GDP, the industry employs 100,000 people and Wales plays host to 10,000 tourist-based businesses - the majority of these being small, family-run enterprises.
Also the attraction of the internet brings its own financial rewards. In the UK alone, online travel bookings are likely to increase by 625pc by 2005, from pounds 592m to pounds 3.7bn.
The website, at www. visitwales. com goes online in May and replaces the previous tourist board site. Visitors will also be able to book holidays over the telephone through a call centre in Bangor.
The new site was designed by World Net, from Sydney, Australia, the company behind the country's Olympic website where visitors could order tickets for the games online.
The new way of booking, and all the information about Wales at your fingertips, could also be seen as a change in strategy by the tourist board. After all, barely two years ago Wales was being portrayed as an exclusive club for the champagne brigade during the Two hours - a million miles away campaign.
And although the board's chief executive Jonathan Jones denied a change in strategy, he told The Western Mail that Wales should be "all things to all men".
Which means it now appears that there is room for both the champagne set and the bucket-and-spade brigade.
However a new tactic to attract new tourists to Wales is much needed after foot-and-mouth brought tourism to its knees last year. …