Business and Tourism Minister Edwina Hart today has launched a scheme by Visit Wales and mobile provider Three to provide tourists with free internet access. Visitors to the 24 Welsh tourist information centres will be able to access email, social networking sites and other web based services while in areas where internet connectivity may be restricted. Three will provide each centre with a MiFi device and 15GB of data per month for a year, enough to browse 15,000 internet pages, make 60 hours of Skype calls or send approximately 75,000 emails.
The aim of the partnership is to allow visitors to search for holiday information in an area where they might not have an internet connection, or where they would otherwise incur expensive data roaming charges. Visitors will also be able to keep in contact with their loved ones using email, social networks or other Internet communications services whilst visiting the Tourist Information Centres.
Visitor Operations Manager for Caerphilly County Borough Council, Martin Cook, said:
“Many visitors have smartphones and tablets but no or little connectivity when on holiday.
“Thanks to this initiative our experienced and locally knowledgeable staff will be able to help inspire visitors by directing them to online films of local attractions, as well as helping them obtain information on a wider range of topics, such as downloadable walks and maps.
“Some of our centres are even looking into buying iPads so they can show the visitors from their own devices. This project fits well alongside the wider initiatives being run by the Welsh Government to help connect up the remotest parts of rural Wales.”
On a visit to Caerphilly’s Tourism Information Centre, Business and Tourism Minister Edwina Hart said:
“The Tourism industry in Wales plays a vital role in our economy, bringing an average £4bn to Wales each year. Innovative developments are key to improving our services and overall visitor experience which is vital if we are to compete with other destinations.
“Connectivity in this day and age is fundamental to the success of our businesses and communities. The Welsh Government is seeking to deliver broadband to all households and businesses in Wales by 2015 through our Next Generation Broadband for Wales project, announced earlier this year. Some of the applications I have seen today are very impressive and I hope they will help to entice visitors to explore further and experience more of what Wales has on offer.”
Three’s Director of Corporate Affairs, Hugh Davies said:
“We have built a network designed for the Internet and are passionate about using this to help as many people as possible experience the everyday benefits this can bring. All of us are now so reliant on our smartphones we want to be able to do the things we love to do wherever we are, even when we’re on holiday.”