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Written Statement - Tourism Investment Support Scheme

Ken Skates, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism

Investment made through the Tourism Investment Support Scheme (TISS) enables Welsh Government to drive forward a quality, product led tourism strategy helping to create fresh reasons to visit and discover Wales. Much of that investment activity happens at a micro and small business level, sometimes with exceptionally positive regeneration outcomes, such as the development of the Zipworld products at Bethesda and Blaenau Ffestiniog.

In the 2014/2015 year to date some £2.3m has been paid out to a range of tourism businesses, supporting projects that stimulate growth in the market, in occupancy or visitor numbers, improve performance, jobs and profitability, and deliver high quality products. Over this period, the investment made has also helped create some 226 jobs and safeguard a further 62 – a total of 288 full time equivalent jobs.

Additional funding has also been made available through ES&T to support strategic projects, compliant with the National Tourism Strategy ‘Partnership for Growth’. Going forward, support to the Tourism Sector will continue, and indeed there may be opportunities to enhance the programme to 2020 through European funding sources.

Historically, the majority of TISS investments have been in the form of non repayable finance. Where necessary, funds recuperated through TISS have been in cases where there has been a need to ‘clawback’ funds during the offer conditions period. This happens for example when a business is sold or where the project does not proceed as intended. The total amount recovered in 2014, for example, is £162,524. When there is a recovery, these funds come back into the scheme.

The current position is that funding decisions can be in the form of repayable or non repayable finance, with each case considered on merit. In cases where the funding is to be repayable, receipts are again returned to the scheme or to the budget concerned. In 2015 the total repaid to Welsh Government to date, in respect of repayable finance in the Tourism sector, is £23,326.

Each business is required to meet certain ‘offer conditions’ such as creating and safeguarding jobs, and achieving and sustaining the intended quality. Performance against these criteria is reviewed at the payment stage; but also at a ‘mid point’ (usually 18 months) and ‘end point’ in the project conditions period (usually 3 years). If discrepancies arise, these are considered on a case by case basis.

As I have already noted, in addition to TISS, further capital funding has also been made available by Welsh Government to exceptional tourism developments, such as the soon to open Surf Snowdonia at Dolgarrog. This is positive evidence that we are successfully attracting innovative products that will help further differentiate Wales as a world class and unique destination.

To ensure that we continue to move forward, in conjunction with the Tourism Advisory Board, the criteria that define exceptional tourism projects under TISS are being considered in line with the Tourism Strategy. We will also ensure that processes are as business friendly as possible, particularly in relation to relatively low levels of investment to micro and small tourism businesses, where there are opportunities to grow the tourism economy.