I was a member of the Wales Tourist Board between 1989-94. I served under the Chairmanship of Prys Edwards and Tony Lewis, two men of very different style, but both good leaders in their own way. We were served by a savvy and effective Chief Executive named Paul Loveluck. I didn't agree with all that the WTB did, and occasionally I rattled my toys in Board meetings. But it gave Wales a strong profile in the international tourism market. It worked and it delivered. I thought it was a great mistake when Rhodri Morgan abolished the WTB, and incorporated its role within the Assembly Government. I believe that he did this without any prior discussion with any WTB personnel, or even informing his own cabinet, except the Machiavellian Andrew Davies (I think Andrew would like that if someone cares to show him)). This was Rhodri Morgan taking revenge on 'The Quangos' without any regard for the consequences to the Welsh economy or to the Welsh tourist industry. When I was an Assembly Member, I told him to his face, and publicly, that the way in which he abolished the WDA and the WTB rendered him unfit for the position of First Minister. I believed that then, with fervour, and I still believe that today.
There were some in the tourism industry who welcomed the demise of the WTB. They believed the 'spin'. They thought that they, directly representing their industry, would be a more effective champion. They thought that dealing directly with 'Government' would benefit the industry. Well, they were wrong. And this is the inevitable result. If you walk down the street in Welshpool, no-one will have a clue what 'Visit Wales' is. Ten conferences won't change that. The old strapline 'Wales Tourist Board' was worth tens of millions, cast casually aside, together with the equally valuable strapline 'Welsh development Agency' into a disposal bucket marked 'Rhodri Morgan's Prejudice'. Oh what a tragedy. And its the tourism businesses of Wales who are paying the price of one man's vanity. Some day, a new body will be created, very like the Wales Tourist Board. And that may well be what they call it.