Use Welsh language to boost economy, task group says

  • 21 February 2014
  • From the section Wales
David Lea-Wilson
Image caption Food such as sea salt from Anglesey can be a key driver, the report says

Greater use of Welsh on items produced in Wales could help boost trade as a unique selling point, a report says.

A Welsh government task group looked at how language and economic development could be improved hand in hand.

The panel found that food produce like cheese branded as "caws" - trading on its Welsh identity - had become well known and could be extended further.

It also suggests firms receiving Welsh government funds should show an ability to "provide a service bilingually".

The task group has published 27 recommendations and suggests linking wider communities with more well known brands like Welsh whisky maker Penderyn Distillery in Pontpren, Rhondda Cynon Taff, to encourage visitors - and spending - in that area.

"In the case of those products already well known because of the quality or uniqueness of the product, there is a need to ensure that economic benefits flow to the wider community as happens in wine-producing areas throughout the world," the report said.

"The results would be two-fold - an increase in visitors and entrepreneurial opportunities, and also an increased awareness of the language."

It said food and drink was a good example were it was already being used and highlighted Carmarthenshire cheesemaker Caws Cenarth in the Teifi Valley, Anglesey sea salt producers Halen Mon and Pant Du vineyard in Gwynedd.

'Intrigued and charmed'

Another way it suggested boosting use of Welsh was requiring all businesses receiving grants from the Welsh government to "demonstrate an ability to provide a service bilingually".

Group chairman Elin Rhys said: "The future of the Welsh language is inexorably linked with the economy, jobs, wealth, and the well-being of communities.

"Our focus has been on seeking positive outcomes in relation both to the language, and fostering economic development."

The group recommended a joint approach to economic development and the language, adopting an area-based approach to "facilitate the designation of special economic language zones" to reflect communities' use of the language.

It heard evidence from a range of Welsh businesses and interest groups, including car dealership Ceir Cymru based in Gwynedd and Conwy which promotes the use of Welsh as the primary language among staff.

Ceir Cymru's written evidence said: "Over the years thousands of English/non-Welsh speaking people have bought cars from us and have been intrigued and charmed by our use of Welsh.

"Some are even jealous of this and reflect on their loss with statements like 'I wish I could have learnt Welsh at school' or 'I wish I could speak Welsh'."

The task group also suggests setting up more business network opportunities in Welsh and apprenticeships supporting the use of the Welsh.

It says more could be learned from other places which trade bilingually such as the Basque country in Spain and it recommends Economy Minister Edwina Hart commission further work.

She said: "Work will now begin to assess the potential impacts and costs of the recommendations."

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