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2012 – a year of opportunity in Wales


eDWIna haRt is Welsh Assembly Government minister for business, enterprise, technology and science


W


e start 2012 in Wales with a new UK consumer market- ing campaign, which will show people how they can


have a ‘proper holiday’ during 2012. Te TV adverts feature real people who have been disappointed with previous trips abroad, where the usual ‘fly and flop’ holiday leſt them with no memories or experiences. Tis Visit Wales marketing campaign


goes beyond the conventional approach of telling people what’s good about Wales – it actually shows real people having a fantas- tic holiday in Wales and should ensure that Wales really does stand out from our com- petitors in the UK and internationally. As London is gearing up to deliver the


2012 Olympic Games later this year, Wales is also playing a big part in the delivery of the Games. Cardiff is one of a number of host cities for London 2012. Wales – of course – has produced great athletes, not least because we have enviable training facilities created by nature. One of those assets is our coastline. Tis year, Wales becomes the first country in the world to open a dedicated path along its entire coast. It has already been named by Lonely Planet as the greatest region on earth to visit in 2012 and will help to attract more visitors to our coastline and provide a real boost to our economy. Our priority for 2012 is to make sure that


investment in quality continues through these tough economic times. At the end of last year, I launched the Economic Growth Fund. Any offers will be time limited to ensure grants are taken up and used before the end of 2012 and the closing date for applications is 31st January 2012 so busi- nesses need to move swiſtly. We have also launched a scheme spe-


cifically targeted at the Tourism industry – ‘Building for 2012’. Te winter period is traditionally a time when tourism businesses can upgrade their facilities with a minimum of disruption. Te ‘Building for 2012’ project is a call to SME tourism businesses across Wales to invest in quality, in readiness for spring 2012. Again, the opportunity will be time bound and projects will need to be completed before 31 March.


10 Firmdale secures new funding


Firmdale Hotels, the oper- ator of boutique hotels in London and New York, US, has secured £188m from Barclays Corporate in order to fund the next phase of its expansion plans. Te latest facility includes


the provision of financial sup- port for new developments, such as the group’s latest scheme – a 92-bedroom prop- erty at Ham Yard, London. More than 20 residential


apartments and retail units also form part of the proj- ect, which will see the hotel become Firmdale’s seventh in the capital. Barclays has also agreed to refinance


Firmdale Hotels already runs boutique hotels in London and New York


Firmdale’s existing facilities over a three- to five-year term, which will help provide security of liquidity for the duration of the period. Firmdale director Malcolm Soden said: “Our banking relationship is critically important to


not only our existing business but also to our growth aspirations. “Having already provided development


finance for five of our hotels over the years, Barclays have once more stepped up to the plate and enabled our new Ham Yard devel- opment to progress.”


Travelodge announces 2012 hotel opening plans


Travelodge, the UK-based budget hotel opera- tor, has announced that it is to launch 41 new properties across the country during 2012 in a move expected to create 1,000 jobs. Te 41 new hotels represent an investment of £246m and will expand the group’s portfolio to


537 properties. Te openings include the 500th Travelodge in Stratford, east London. Last month, Travelodge announced that it


had added nearly 150 more locations to its list of target sites across the UK, including a num- ber of “tourism and event hotspots”.


Majority of UK consumers ‘use vouchers’


New research from Deloitte and BDRC Continental has revealed that more than half of UK consumers (59 per cent) have used a special offer voucher when dining out. According to the latest Taste


of the Nation poll of 3,000 consumers, 18- to 34-year-olds are the group “most engaged”, with 67 per cent using vouch- ers. However, just 25 per cent admitted they went out more oſten than usual as a result of establishments offering vouchers and Deloitte believes it may be time for eateries to cut back on such deals. Jon Lake, corporate finance director in


Only a quarter of Britons go out more oſten where a voucher is offered


Deloitte’s licensed retail group, said: “Some [operators] will find it difficult to determine the most effective method for phasing out


Read Leisure Opportunities online: www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/digital


vouchers and increasing their customers’ average spend while retaining their loyalty. However, our research indicates it could be achievable.” Details: http://lei.sr?a=T5M8Y


Twitter: @leisureopps © CYBERTREK 2012


image: gary houston


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