Saturday, January 19, 2008

Welsh craft tradition under threat - icWales

Welsh craft tradition under threat - icWales

WALES is missing out on millions of pounds a year in income because of a glut of “authentic” Welsh souvenirs manufactured in Asia, a trade body claimed yesterday.

The Wales Craft Council says many tourists may think they are buying a genuine piece of Welsh workmanship when they are actually paying for a mass-produced trinket made thousands of miles away.

It says even lovespoons – the epitome of the Welsh craft tradition – are now being imported, with many being brought to Wales from Indonesia.

From tomorrow to Wednesday, craftworkers will exhibit in Llandudno at the Wales Spring Fair, where hundreds of buyers will choose some of this summer’s stock for UK gift shops.

But many Welsh shopkeepers will ignore the event because they can get cheaper souvenirs from foreign countries where labour costs are low.

Philomena Hearn, chairman of the Wales Craft Council, said she knew of one shop in Denbighshire which appeared to sell Welsh gifts but stocked nothing that was made in Wales. “Even the lovespoons come from Borneo,” she said.

“The general public assume lovespoons are made in Wales. I don’t know whether they care or not.

“Souvenir shopping isn’t why you go on holiday. You don’t spend a lot of time browsing for that gift to take back.

“You think you’ve found the perfect gift and it’s only when you give it to your friend or relative that you, or they, realise it’s made in Thailand or China.”

She said the Wales Spring Fair attracted buyers from Lancashire, but few from Llandudno itself. “This is a trade fair for selling Welsh things on their doorstep, and they can’t be bothered to come.”

Les Williams, whose Pageant Wood Products firm makes up to 7,000 lovespoons a year in the Conwy Valley, said lovespoon imports had begun about four years ago....

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