Wales’ tourism potential underappreciated

Wales could, and should, be on the list of potential destinations for overseas holidaymakers looking to avoid the usual thoroughfares. It boasts some of the UK’s most spectacular landscapes, with the ethereal slate-scarred peaks of Eryri (Snowdonia) notable for its uniqueness, while pastel-coloured former fishing villages retain an old-world charm, and historic castles and shipwreck strewn shores remain relatively undisturbed.

But a lack of effective marketing, limited holiday packages, and inadequate transportation connections are hindering Wales’ aspirations, the BBC has reported, citing a report by Members of Parliament on the Welsh affairs committee.

A Welsh affairs committee has expressed concerns about Wales receiving only a small fraction of the total number of visitors to the UK. Out of the 41 million international tourists who visited the UK in 2019, just over one million ventured to Wales. Tourism contributes an estimated £3bn to the Welsh economy.

In a report, the MPs highlighted Wales’ relatively low profile overseas and the absence of a cohesive brand for the international market. They noted that out of the £28 billion spent by international tourists in the UK in 2019, only £515 million (2%) was spent in Wales.

Committee chairman Stephen Crabb expressed disappointment in the oversight of Wales by organizations like VisitBritain and tour operators. He also highlighted the challenges posed by poor road networks, making it difficult for visitors to access certain locations, although air and sea links also contribute to a degree of remoteness.

‘UK organisations that should be responsible for promoting visits to Wales, such as VisitBritain, routinely overlook it in their own marketing materials,’ Crabb said. ‘Tour operators fail to consistently offer Wales as a holiday destination. The transport infrastructure puts international tourists off coming to Wales, and the poor road network would make travelling to some special locations challenging.’

‘Is it any wonder Wales isn’t the global tourist destination it can be?’

Additionally, the report urged the Welsh government to reconsider its plans for a visitor levy, as it might negatively impact Wales’ appeal to international tourists.

Transport infrastructure was identified as another key issue impacting Wales’ ability to attract more tourists. The MPs noted that it had been underfunded by both the UK and Welsh governments for several years. They proposed exploring creative funding solutions, including the establishment of a new direct rail link connecting Wales with Heathrow Airport.

The MPs recommended that Visit Wales collaborate with VisitBritain to improve how Wales is marketed in international campaigns by February 2024. They also called for tour operators to include Wales in their UK holiday packages, as it is often overlooked.

VisitBritain’s chief executive, Patricia Yates affirmed that the report’s findings would be carefully studied. ‘We’re working with international travel trade to ensure Wales is sold internationally, this year inviting Welsh businesses on trade missions to China, India and the USA,’ she said.

The company is ‘bringing international tour operators and media on visits to Wales to boost product and destination knowledge’, she added.

Volotea announces special flights to Rugby World Cup France 2023 from Cardiff Airport

Volotea will offer rugby fans in Wales direct scheduled flights from Cardiff Airport to both Lyon and Nantes for the crucial Pool C deciding matches against Australia and Georgia in the Rugby World Cup taking place in France this autumn.

Leaving Cardiff at 17:15 on Friday, September 22, the first special flight is to Lyon, where Wales will play Australia in its Pool C match at the OL Stadium at 21:00 on Sunday, September 24. The return flight will then depart Lyon at 16:05 on Monday September 25. The second special flight to Nantes will depart from Cardiff at 18:00 on Friday October 6, where Wales will play Georgia in the Stade de la Boujoire at 15:00 on Saturday, October 7. The return flight back to Wales leaves Nantes at 14:00 on Sunday, October 8.

‘We have been working for some time on securing flights to take Wales fans from Cardiff to the Rugby World Cup, and we welcome this commitment from Volotea,’ said Marc Watkins, Aviation Development Manager for Cardiff Airport. ‘Of course, the big pool game, where interest to get to the match is highest, is against Australia in Lyon, so we are especially excited to have flights for that particular weekend.’

‘We are thrilled to announce the launch of our new flights directly connecting Welsh rugby fans to the upcoming Rugby World Cup matches in France. Our new direct routes from Cardiff to Lyon and Nantes will offer a seamless and convenient travel experience, ensuring that fans can focus on the excitement of the game rather than the logistics of travel. We are proud to be partnering with Cardiff Airport to make this service possible and are confident that fans will appreciate the quality of our service from the moment they step on board,’ said Gabriel Schmilovich, Chief Strategy Officer, Volotea.

Established in 2011, Volotea flies from 22 cities in France and has aircraft based in eight French cities, including in Lyon and Nantes. Flights are on sale using the airline’s app and are also available on its website: www.volotea.com, as well as through various sports tour operators and travel agencies.

Cardiff Airport prepares for busy summer season with much needed holiday destinations

Cardiff Airport has announced plans for a busy summer 2022 season, commencing Sunday, March 27.

The summer schedule, which runs until the end of October, will see more than 25 routes to popular business and leisure destinations as the airport continues to rebuild its connectivity post-pandemic.

The airport is expected to register increased passenger figures and recovery when budget airline Wizz Air UK launches its base operation on April 8 to nine holiday destinations in Cyprus, Greece, Portugal and Spain. The newly introduced carrier will add to the existing leisure route network offered by TUI, which will fly to over 20 destinations across traditional Mediterranean hotspots as well as to the Canary Islands, Croatia, Tunisia and Turkey.

The airport will enhance global connectivity from May 24 when KLM increases flights to its Amsterdam hub from Cardiff, enabling passengers to connect easily to distant adventures in places such as Las Vegas, New York, Toronto, Bangkok, Dubai and Aruba as well as city break and business destinations across Europe like Athens, Budapest, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Geneva, Madrid, Prague, Rome and Venice. For anyone looking for a city break closer to home, Loganair offers a six times weekly service to Edinburgh.

Two other low-cost airlines Ryanair and Vueling are offering flights to six European destinations this summer. Vueling’s Paris Orly service offers a quick link, and with its three times weekly operation is ideal for a short break or a visit to Disneyland Paris. The low-cost airline, part of the same group that owns British Airways, also offers routes to Malaga, Alicante and Palma de Mallorca from the airport. Meanwhile, Ryanair will be continuing its four times weekly operation to Dublin into the summer season. In addition, the Irish low-cost airline offers twice-weekly flights to Faro and Malaga from Cardiff.

‘The airport and its partner organisations have been busy hiring staff again in readiness for our busiest summer for three years,’ said Spencer Birns, CEO at Cardiff Airport. ‘There is a huge pent-up demand for air travel which has built up over the past two years during the pandemic and we’re very pleased to be able to help people living in Wales take their much-needed overseas trips.’

Loganair announces new Scotland-Wales flight service

Loganair, the UK’s largest regional airline, has launched its new service between Edinburgh and Cardiff, starting August 2.

Flights will be operated on Loganair’s 49-seat Embraer 145 regional jets, with prices on the 1hr 25 min trip starting at £49.99 one way including taxes and charges. Tickets are now on sale, and all Loganair fares include a free checked baggage allowance.

The direct flights – five per week in each direction – represent the last major route to be restored by Loganair and other carriers, reintroducing the domestic connectivity lost when Flybe collapsed in March 2020. The flights will operate on Monday, Wednesday and Sunday. The Cardiff service adds to the eight others already flown from Edinburgh by Loganair, including Southampton, Newquay and the Isle of Man.

Kay Ryan, Loganair’s chief commercial officer, said: ‘I know many of our customers – both business and leisure – have been waiting for this service to resume, and we are very pleased to be able to add Cardiff to our Edinburgh roster.

‘Importantly, these services fill gaps left by the collapse of Flybe, with almost every lost domestic destination now being restored by Loganair and other carriers over the coming months.’

Kate Sherry, aviation director at Edinburgh Airport, said: ‘We’re excited to be reconnecting the capitals of Scotland and Wales, a route which will allow family members to reunite as well as enable people to enjoy a well-earned break in Edinburgh and Cardiff. It’s been an extremely tough period and we know people are looking forward to enjoying some time away from home, and this is further good news as the airport looks to provide those opportunities for our passengers. Loganair is a valued partner and its confidence in Edinburgh Airport is welcome now and going forward.’

Spencer Birns, CEO at Cardiff Airport said: ‘We’re pleased that Loganair has stepped in to re-establish a vital connection between Wales and Scotland with a regular Cardiff-Edinburgh service. Customers will once again be able to fly easily for business and to visit friends and family, as well as have the opportunity to travel for a well-earned city break or to explore Scotland’s beautiful scenery.

‘It is a top priority for us to re-instate routes lost as a result of the pandemic, and we are delighted that Scotland’s airline has announced this essential service for our customers, increasing regional connectivity from Wales. We look forward to working closely with the Loganair team going forward.’

Loganair has a comprehensive FlySafe protocol in place requiring all customers, unless medically exempt, to wear face coverings; social distancing through boarding and disembarkation; and additional aircraft cleaning and sanitisation between every flight. These protocols will remain in place for as long as reasonably required through public health precautions, it said.

Further, Loganair’s FlexProtect programme allows customers to change their bookings or obtain a refund, if there is a change in Government legislation or rules that affects their travel plan.

Stobart Air announces two new routes from Cardiff to Dublin and Belfast

Stobart Air, operator of Aer Lingus Regional routes, has said that it has added two new routes to its network, connecting Wales with Ireland.

The new Cardiff (CWL) to Dublin Airport (DUB) route will initially operate three times weekly, on Monday, Friday, and Sunday, commencing on August 30. The new route from Cardiff to Belfast City Airport (BHD) will initially operate four times weekly on Monday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday commencing on June 28.

As air travel resumes within the Common Travel Area following the successful rollout of vaccination programmes across the UK and Ireland, Stobart Air has added these new routes to its Aer Lingus Regional network to provide additional choices for customers looking to travel for business and leisure.

Andy Jolly, Managing Director at Stobart Air, said: ‘Stobart Air calls on the Governments in the UK and Ireland to work with all industry stakeholders to restore confidence in aviation and facilitate the resumption of safe air travel in line with the vaccination rollout programmes. In the immediate term this includes developing a vaccine pass procedure to allow people who have received their complete vaccine course to unrestricted travel within the Common Travel Area.

‘Anticipating a successful Covid-19 vaccination rollout which will allow air travel to resume safely later this year, we are pleased to add these routes from Cardiff to Dublin and Belfast to our network. We believe these new connections will cater to both business and leisure travellers with direct, convenient and cost-effective flights between Cardiff and the two largest cities on the island of Ireland, Dublin in the Republic of Ireland, and Belfast in Northern Ireland.

‘We are committed to providing our passengers with frequent, convenient and affordable services through our regional connections. We look forward to welcoming our staff and customers onboard these new routes.’

Spencer Birns, CEO at Cardiff Airport said: ‘It’s fantastic news that Stobart Air will be operating scheduled services from Cardiff to Dublin and Belfast with their Aer Lingus franchise. As restrictions are eased, these flights will once again link Wales to two key destinations, allowing our customers to travel for business, leisure or to visit friends and family, as well as enabling easy connections to North America via Dublin.

‘Both routes have proved highly popular with our customers, and it is a top priority for us to focus on re-instating routes lost as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. We are pleased that once again our passengers will be able to easily fly to both Belfast and Dublin, and we look forward to working closely with the team at Stobart Air going forward.’

All Stobart Air flights will operate in accordance with Covid protocols implemented by the UK and Irish governments and health authorities.

Vueling announces special flights to Italy from Cardiff for UEFA EURO 2020

European low fares airline, Vueling Airlines has announced special flights from Cardiff to Rome-Fiumicino, so fans will be able to fly from to support the Wales football team at the UEFA EURO 2020.

The football match against Italy will kickoff at Rome’s Olympic Stadium on June 21, 2020.

The airline will operate an outbound flight from Cardiff Airport to Rome-Fiumicino Airport, departing at 13:05 on 20th June 2020 and returning at 14:30 on 22nd June 2020. The flights will be operated on an Airbus A320, which can hold up to 186 passengers each way. Flights are on sale now at vueling.com/en, via Vueling’s mobile app, on the m.vueling.com mobile site or via the local travel agent.

Spencer Birns, Chief Commercial Officer at Cardiff Airport, said: ‘The Euros are such a major event in the sporting calendar, and it is fantastic to see that our valued airline partner Vueling is making it possible for Welsh football fans to see the team in action against Italy.’

Cardiff Airport is the gateway to Wales, handling over a million passengers a year with over 50 direct routes and more than 900 connecting destinations worldwide through hubs including Amsterdam Schiphol, Dublin and Barcelona.

A part of International Airlines Group (IAG), Vueling operates short and medium-haul destinations in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, which are operated with a fleet of 120 aircraft of the Airbus A319, A320, A320neo and A321 models.

Super Break announces new service to Seville for Welsh holidaymakers

Super Break has announced the launch of a new route from Cardiff Airport to Seville in 2018, offering Welsh holidaymakers a chance to experience the Spanish city of Andalucia, according to a release by Cardiff Airport.

The new chartered service by Super Break will be the first direct flight from Cardiff Airport to Seville, and is Super Break’s second chartered flight service from Cardiff Airport following the launch of a Northern Iceland service that went on sale earlier this year.

Starting from £629 per person, the Seville Super Break will depart on March 26, 2018. The break will include four nights’ accommodation at a four-star hotel with breakfast, one full day excursion to Jerez and Cadiz, complimentary entry to many of Seville’s key attractions, 48-hour hop-on-hop-off sightseeing bus ticket, and transfers.

Travellers can also choose to add a guided tour of Moorish Granada, or an evening of authentic flamenco and tapas.

Deb Barber, CEO of Cardiff Airport commented: ‘This exciting and unique package is the second and very welcome announcement made by the Super Break recently. It’s great to see the popular tour operator tailoring packages for our customers offered at convenient times.

The Easter break is an ideal time of year to explore and experience everything this stunning Andalusian region is known around the world for. We look forward to more exciting announcements from Super Break in future.’

Katherine Scott from Super Break added: ‘At Super Break we take pride in providing travel experiences out of the ordinary, and this new break to Andalusia means that customers can go straight to the heart of Spanish culture that is Seville and Andalusia. We’ve also made sure there are plenty of experiences included in the price so that our customers can get the most out of their tailored trip. The traditions, cuisine and culture of this beautiful region really does mean holidaymakers can have it all.’

The £629 per person price is based on five days’ in Seville, including accommodation at the four-star AC Hotel Sevilla Forum Hotel with breakfast, a full-day excursion to Jerez and Cadiz, a city sightseeing tour of Seville, plus return flights from Cardiff Airport, the airport said. Tickets are available to book at http://www.superbreak.com/, it added.

LinksAir commence new service to Cardiff from Norwich International

UK regional airline LinksAir has announced the launch of a new air service from Norwich International Airport to Cardiff, benefiting business travellers.

The new air-link between Cardiff Airport and Norwich International in East Anglia commenced on Monday, April 20, linking Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and the South Wales region and also via the onward connection, Anglesey and North Wales, to the East Anglian counties of Norfolk and Suffolk.

The return Norwich-Cardiff-Anglesey services will depart Norwich International at 2:20 PM saving significantly in time by over four-hours on existing rail or road journey times to both regions. Flights are available to book with air fares from £59.00 one-way including all taxes and charges. A special ‘launch’ fare of £99 return to Cardiff or £139 to Anglesey is available.

The East of England and its Norfolk and Suffolk coast is reportedly one of the UK’s busiest in the energy sector, especially with gas and offshore renewable developments.

LinksAir Commercial Manager, Roger Hage, added ‘We are delighted at LinksAir with the initial response to us taking over the Cardiff-Anglesey service and already carrying such increased passenger numbers. Adding the new daily weekday Norwich service will add further to the destinations available from and to Wales helping business and leisure accessibility to the East Anglia region to both North and South Wales.’

Norwich Airport Chief Executive Andrew Bell added, ‘The introduction of the Cardiff route and the new onward connection to Anglesey is another positive step in the airport’s strategy to deliver regional connectivity to both leisure and business travellers as it will not only benefit those working within the energy sector but other industries and those wishing to travel to visit friends and relatives in Wales.’

This new Norwich service was launched after the Cardiff-Anglesey Intra-Wales air service registered an increase in passenger numbers of over 45 percent for the month of March compared to 2014, with 1,145 passengers using the link to Anglesey – the highest number in a single month since June 2009.

 

Bristol Airport welcomes National Express service

Bristol Airport has announced a National Express service for transport to and from South Wales following the withdrawal of coach operator First Group.

The move ensures the continuation of the only direct public transport link between South Wales and Bristol Airport. Cheaper than its predecessor, the new 216 service set for launch on March 1 will operate between Cardiff Bus Station and Bristol Airport, offering a direct public transport link for Welsh travellers who fly from the airport.

Operating 12 times a day in each direction, the 216 service is run by South Wales-based Edwards Coaches, reaching the airport from Cardiff Bus Station in just one hour and 20 minutes – 20 minutes faster than the outgoing service. It also calls at Cardiff University and Newport Rail Station.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive Officer at Bristol Airport, said: ‘The launch of a National Express service to and from Cardiff brings a high profile brand to the growing range of public transport options available to passengers using Bristol Airport, providing a convenient link to our route network for people and business in South Wales. It’s fantastic to have National Express on board and help strengthen the overall customer service offer of Bristol Airport.’

National Express Service Delivery Director, Kevin Gale said: ‘We are really pleased to be taking on this route which provides such an important link between South Wales and Bristol Airport. We are particularly pleased to be able to pay tribute to the Bristol’s amazing aviation history and the pivotal part it played in bringing the world’s fastest commercial aircraft to the world by naming our service the 216. We may not be quite as fast as a Concorde but our service, which is faster than its predecessor, links Bristol Airport to Cardiff in just one hour twenty minutes, offering unbeatable convenience for passengers.’

Featuring a ‘Bristol Airport Express’ livery, the new service vehicles are fully wheelchair accessible. The service includes the usual National Express provisions, viz. power sockets, leather seats and air-conditioning.

National Express tickets are on sale, with single fares starting from £13, with a 25 per cent discount available to those who book a return ticket.

Cardiff Airport adds extra flights to winter 2014 schedule

Cardiff Airport has added extra flights to Barbados and Jamaica, as well as a special flight to visit the Northern Lights, offering holiday makers in Wales more options for their winter 2014 breaks.

Following huge demand on the existing flights, two more chartered flights have been added from Cardiff to the P&O Cruises Winter 2014 Caribbean fly-cruise schedule.

The new flights depart from Cardiff for 14 nights on December 6th and February 28th. After joining the cruise ships in Barbados passengers will visit Grenada, St Lucia, Dominica, St Kitts, St Maarten, Tortola, Curacao and Bonaire, before catching their direct flight home to Cardiff. Prices begin at £1,399.

Additionally, holiday makers will be able to join Thomson Cruises’ platinum ship, Thomson Dream, in its new home port of Montego Bay in Jamaica, directly from Cardiff. Thomson’s Winter 2014/2015 schedule offers a selection of itineraries in destinations including Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica. The 14-night Thomson cruises begin at £1,619 per person, based on two adults sharing. The first flight from Cardiff departs on December 23rd.

The Northern Lights flight departs from Cardiff on November 19th and costs GBP199.95 per person. From the plane’s vantage point above the clouds and north of the Shetland Isles, passengers will be hoping to witness the light show, which could range from a gentle glow to dramatic curtaining effects, and is one of nature’s most sought after wonders.

Jon Horne, Cardiff Airport’s chief executive, said: ‘One of our priorities is to ensure we’re offering our customers a wide variety of destinations so we’re pleased to add these very different options to those available direct from Cardiff. Our aim is to cater for everyone, whether your preferred holiday is a fortnight away in the sun or an adventure in search of something as exciting as the Northern Lights.’