Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Rhodri Makes a Stand for Cymru

‘Wales won’t stand for further Olympics raids’

Dec 19 2007 by Tomos Livingstone, Western Mail

Wales won't stand for further Olympics raids on lottery cash.
The Assembly Government will not stand for any further cuts in lottery funding as a result of the 2012 London Olympics, Heritage Minister Rhodri Glyn Thomas said yesterday. Mr Thomas said Wales was already effectively £70m down as a result of decisions to Thomas became the first Plaid Cymru Minister to give evidence at a Westminster select committee yesterday, and was questioned on issues as varied as registration for tourist operators to whether Wales should have its own time zone.
He said he had been in talks with a major nation’s Paralympic team with a view to them using a Welsh site as their base for the 2012 Paralympics. If that deal is concluded it could bring £2m into the Welsh economy, Mr Thomas said.
The Wales Tourism Alliance has already presented evidence to the MPs that the Olympics will have “little or no direct benefit” to the tourist trade in Wales.
Mr Thomas said, “I can understand what the Tourism Alliance have said, and it’s difficult to find the direct benefit.
“As I’ve already alluded to, the negatives tend to be far greater than the positives at the moment, and our strategy is to maximise the positive as much as we can.
“The fact of the matter is the Olympics are coming to London in 2012, we are going to lose £70m in terms of lottery funding. We have to live within that reality.
“If we put a sustained effort into it, we can reap a number of benefits.”
London tourism chiefs are known to be concerned that a number of visitors may decide to shun the city during the Olympics, and have studied data from previous hosts Sydney and Athens that suggests residents tend to leave during the Games.
Mr Thomas said Wales could benefit. “We will be looking at people who want to get away from the Olympics,” he said. “Not everyone likes sport, and not everyone likes a situation where there are lot of people in their area. We can offer them something different.”
Asked if putting the clocks back an extra hour in the summer – so-called Double Summer Time – would help boost tourism, he said, “Traditionally in Wales the industry and sector has been supportive of this move, but ultimately this is a matter for the UK Government.”
Ministers were looking to introduce a compulsory registration scheme for those offering tourist accommodation, he said, but would be happy to look at how such schemes had worked in other countries before pressing ahead.
Speaking about his historic appearance after the hearing, Mr Thomas said, “If you had any kind of political aspiration you wouldn’t have joined Plaid Cymru when I did nearly 40 years ago, and you wouldn't have stood for Plaid in the 1999 elections expecting to be in government.
He said he was enjoying “the opportunity to take decisions that affect the future of Wales”.

Plaid Cymru Llanelli Constituency asks : Why not have a Welsh Lottery for Wales, and for the benefit of Welsh needs and projects? They also question why the winnings are so high and why they cannot be distributed more widely with smaller gains. Alan in Dyfed

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