By Kate Madley

Wales is taking advantage of the 2012 Olympics to strengthen its links with international travel industry.

Major operators from markets such as Germany, Hong Kong and Russia are taking time out from a World Travel Leaders’ Summit in London to visit some of Wales’s major tourism attractions.

Hosted by Visit Wales, the two-day itinerary features Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Castle and the National Museum of Art.

The travel leaders will also join a Bay Island Voyages tour into the Severn estuary and visit some of Wales’s finest food and drink attractions, including Welsh Whisky’s Penderyn Distillery and the Llanerch Vineyard.

“This is an excellent opportunity to host some of the best in today’s travel industry and expand our tourism market to a wider international audience,” said Edwina Hart, Business and Tourism Minister.

“This is yet another example of how Wales is benefiting from the London 2012 Olympics. We have a captive audience just a two-hour train ride away from our capital, and it is vital that we make the most of this opportunity to raise Wales’s profile.

“Let’s give a very warm Welsh welcome and unforgettable experience to these highly influential delegates from the travel industry, who will see for themselves what our capital has on offer. Let’s meet and exceed expectations and increase visitor demand to Cardiff and Wales as a whole.”

On their arrival yesterday, the Welsh capital’s marketing partnership, Cardiff and Co, hosted a private dinner for the travel operators to discuss exactly what Cardiff can offer as a destination.

“With Great Britain hosting the 2012 Olympic Games and Cardiff being an Olympic city it provides us with a unique opportunity to showcase Wales to important tourism decision makers and international tour operators,” said Roger Pride, Managing Director.

“The two-day visit to Wales offers a real taste of Welsh culture and takes the operators to some of the most attractive tourist destinations in the region.

“Wales is a fantastic country with so much to offer, and I believe the visit will highlight Cardiff and the region to be a destination of international acclaim. As a result, I hope that Cardiff will feature prominently in international tour programmes for years to come.”

The London 2012 Olympic Games has provided an opportunity to engage with international travel trade and strengthen interest in Britain as a venue for holding world-class events.

Cardiff is an Olympic city and its Millennium Stadium hosted the first action of the 2012 Games – the women’s football match between GB and New Zealand – two days before the Opening Ceremony.