To receive an update on how the Economy and Community Department is implementing the Language Policy and their plan for promoting the Welsh Language in Gwynedd
To accept the report and note the observations received.
The report was presented by the Head of Economy and Community Department, and she referred briefly to the following main points:
- It was noted that a small reduction had been seen in the number of staff who had met the language designation of their posts, compared with the previous year. It was believed that this was a reflection of the increase in the number of temporary staff appointed over the past year, e.g. additional wardens in order to respond to the Covid situation.
- It was reported that opportunities had arisen to develop the language of those who did not meet the requirements. It was noted that individuals had taken advantage of the opportunities and had appreciated the support and encouragement given to develop their language skills. It was added that challenges existed when completing a language self-assessment as so many temporary seasonal staff were in the Department and some had now left.
- Some new service fields introduced during the Covid period were highlighted. Then, the opportunity was taken to place emphasis on providing the information in Welsh and promoting the services available in Welsh.
- It was reported that the Libraries and Archives Service were valuable resources for families which enabled children to hear the Welsh language and participate in activities. The importance of the Archives service which provided information packs and Welsh materials to Gwynedd Schools was emphasised; now there was an increased emphasis on this resource.
- Reference was made to the work of promoting Welsh culture that was being done by the Tourism, Marketing and Events Service. Reference was made to the work currently underway on the linguistic impact of the increasing number of tourists in the County. It was noted that measures were now in place to measure the impact on the language of the County.
- The Department's expectation on partners who collaborated with them to provide materials bilingually was expressed. It was added that the Department ensured that websites and apps were available bilingually, and they ensured that they were available in Welsh to other Counties and partnerships. It was reported that the Department had strengthened the language requirements as a condition in tenders when awarding contracts.
Members were given an opportunity to ask questions and offer observations. During the discussion, the following matters were raised:
- Gratitude was expressed for the full report and it was expressed, whilst acknowledging the magnitude of the task, that it would be interesting to see the outcome of the work on the impact of tourists on the language.
- Enquiries were made as to when this work would be published.
- It was noted that location played a part in how harmful tourism could be to the language in a specific area. This work was welcomed and it was believed that the results would be interesting.
- It was asked whether it was possible to measure how much tourism that the history, language and culture of Wales attract to Gwynedd and to Wales, i.e. more cultural tourism.
- Disappointment was expressed that the Arts Council did not support projects that promoted the use of the Welsh language.
In response, the Head of Economy and Community Department noted:
- That many factors contributed to the impact of tourists on the language and that it was not easy to analyse the impact. It was reported that this work had now been commissioned. It was believed that the results would be very interesting and that the Department would be happy to share the information with the Committee in the next cycle.
- It was noted that work on the Visitor Economy Plan had been prepared and had received Cabinet approval to the consultation period. It was hoped that the consultation work would come to an end in June. It was anticipated that the Visitor Economy Plan would be approved after the summer. It was noted that the work on identifying measures was currently under-way and that the Department would have a better idea of the indicators by the summer.
- Members concurred with the comment that location was a factor in the impact of tourism on the language of a specific area. It was highlighted that if there were numerous Airbnb houses in villages then this could have a negative impact on the language, compared with the impact of tourists on larger towns.
- That no data existed to show how much tourism was attracted to the area based on culture alone. It was believed that this was a combination of factors, including the area's culture, environment and attractions. Instead, the plan that had been operational had been focusing on attempting to extend the season so that tourists visited throughout the year, and not just in the summer season. It was reported that this had a negative impact on the quality of the jobs and salaries being offered in the sector. It was added that Hafan y Môr now offered annual contracts, instead of seasonal contracts, so that the staff were paid throughout the year. It was reiterated that the Department was seeking to focus on cultural tourism that tended to visit outside the season, and was looking to strengthen the value of Welsh culture as an attraction in its own right.
- It was reported that the Arts Council had not been objecting projects, but it had rather been prioritising resources and had not been promoting. It was believed that this was an opportunity to influence; it was noted that the Department was collaborating and that it had already started to draw their attention to the opportunities which they were missing.
To accept the report and note the observations received.