Protecting faith tourism and religious buildings
Welsh Conservatives will today highlight the importance of faith tourism to the Welsh economy and call for development of a register of Wales’ most important religious buildings.
In a Senedd debate, Assembly Members will highlight the need to recognise the unique part these sites play in our heritage and culture.
It is now over a year since the Labour government launched its Faith Tourism Action Plan, yet serious questions over its effectiveness remain.
A main aim – to develop a walking trail across Wales – has yet to be achieved, while clear opportunities to market faith tourism in Wales have been missed.
During the summer, Cadw worked with many venues across Wales to encourage people to explore the ‘hidden treasures’ of Welsh culture and history. Despite this, the government did not ensure that faith venues were appropriately included.
In today’s debate, Welsh Conservatives will argue that Labour’s business minister must include this area in her attempts to properly ‘re-brand’ Wales. Two years ago, Edwina Hart confessed to not getting the ‘brand of Wales right’.
Today’s debate will emphasise the need to include religious venues in the on-going process to put that mistake right.
A call to better target marketing in this area will also be made today. Welsh Conservatives will argue that Labour-run Visit Wales must do more to ensure that our unique cultural offerings are showcase to what remains a huge international faith tourism market.
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Tourism and Heritage, Suzy Davies AM, said:
“The history of religious sites is part of Welsh DNA and it’s hugely important to our economy.
“There is a huge market out there just waiting to be tapped, yet Labour’s progress in this area remains slow.
“Tens of millions of pounds can be injected into local communities if more is done to boost faith tourism and showcase just what our country has to offer.
“Labour ministers are dragging their heels on their own action plan and missing opportunity after opportunity.
“Creating a register of our most important religious buildings would be a significant step towards putting past mistakes right and ensuring this part of Welsh history has a pivotal place on the global map.”
Darren Millar, Assembly Member for Clwyd West and Chair of the Cross Party group on Faith, said:
“Religious buildings are an important part of Wales’ heritage and incredibly important assets for communities across the nation.
“Rural religious buildings are often the only public buildings for miles around and many offer potential for faith tourism which is as yet unrealised.
“Our sacred sites are a huge part of what we have to offer for both overseas and domestic visitors and the implementation of the Welsh Government’s action plan is key to realising their economic potential
“I urge Minister to put the protection of this heritage at the heart of their agenda, for the sake of both our economy and our communities.”
Motion for debate on Wednesday November 26th is below:
The National Assembly for Wales:
1. Recognises the importance of Wales' religious buildings to Welsh national heritage.
2. Welcomes the publication of the Welsh Government's Faith Tourism Action Plan and its acknowledgement of the role of religious buildings in attracting visitors to Wales.
3. Calls upon the Welsh Government to work with faith communities and other stakeholders to develop a register of Wales's most important religious buildings in order that they can receive appropriate protections for the future.