THE Tories today described as “catastrophic” the decision of the Welsh Government to scrap the Wales Tourist Board.

Shadow Wales minister David Jones said tourism in the country should be “promoted by properly qualified industry professionals and not by civil servants”.

The functions of the Wales Tourist Board were taken over by the Welsh Assembly Government in 2006.

Mr Jones told MPs at Welsh question time: “The tourism spend in Wales over the last four quarters fell by almost 9% whereas across the UK as a whole it increased by 4%.

“Last year visitors to Wales spent about £159m less than they did as long ago as 2000.”

He said that in hindsight the decision to “scrap the Wales Tourist Board and absorb it as part of the Welsh Assembly Government has proved nothing short of catastrophic”.

But Wales minister Huw Irranca-Davies said the last year had been difficult but the current organisation could do “an equally good or even better job”.

He told MPs: “The strategies are in place, the action plans are in place and what we hope is that Wales tourism will drive forward in the future to have a resurgence of the success it has seen over recent years.”