Fly 2 Wales is an independent organisation powered by passion and fuelled by the motivation to promote tourism into Wales. Providing holiday and visitor information to international and UK-based potential tourists, Fly 2 Wales shines a light on our history, culture and traditions to make sure people know that they’re missing out by not visiting Wales! We caught up with co-founder Dorian True to find out more:
Hey Dorian! Can you tell us a little bit about you and your background?
I was born in a village called Troed-y-Rhiw, in the borough of Merthyr Tydfil, moved from there to the main town when I was about 12 years of age. I studied in a local school called Afon Taf comprehensive school, and ever since I left I wanted to be a mechanic. I studied Motor Vehicle Craft Studies at Merthyr Tydfil college from 1988-1991 and gained the licentiateship diploma in Motor Vehicle Engineering. After being employed at the college as a Technician for 9 years I decided I wanted a career change, so I moved onto aircraft.
I left college and in the year 2000 I was employed by British Airways maintenance team at Cardiff Airport, where I did my time on Boeing 747-400 aircraft. That’s where the name “Fly 2 Wales” came from!
At what point did you start up Fly to Wales? And what was the original motivation behind it?
I have had an interest and passion for aircraft since I was a child. Me and a friend of mine, who is also a Director, saw the lack of people visiting Wales through Cardiff Airport and at the time, Cardiff airport was owned by a Spanish company. So we set up a campaign group and social media group called Fly 2 Cardiff. We were hoping that rather than land in Bristol and Heathrow and drive to Cardiff, people would land in Cardiff instead. We did that for two or three years and in the meantime the Welsh government bought Cardiff Airport and injected a lot of money into it, making a big improvement and it’s progressing all the time.
We realised that because people were coming into Cardiff Airport, we could get tourists coming into Cardiff Airport. So we decided to branch off and do another focus group called Fly 2 Wales. As we grew, we decided to make it a limited company to protect its status, and 8 and a half years down the line we’re still here!
You’re playing a key role in promoting Wales internationally. How would you like to see Wales better represented around the world?
Everything is down to money at the moment, and I think more investment in overseas advertising is one route. Over the last few years Visit Wales have concentrated on the likes of Germany and France and Italy and Spain, and that’s great. But we need to be in the likes of the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and China. These are the people that when they come over to Wales for a holiday, they’ll spend 3-4 weeks here, compared with a few days if they come from France or Spain. And that’s not said in a disrespectful way, but I’m looking at the bigger picture, where an American might be coming over tracing their relatives and building their family tree. They will spend a lot of money in Wales in the time that they’re here. But what we’ve got to try and do is get them down to Wales, because they seem to get trapped landing in London and they might go to Scotland and Ireland, but poor Wales, in the corner, they don’t seem to get down this neck of the woods. But coming into Cardiff airport, we may have a chance to do that.
So there needs to be a more active investment in advertising Wales as a tourist destination in countries further afield, preferably flying into Cardiff airport as opposed to one of the London airports?
Yes. For example Qatar Airways, who started flying into Cardiff about 2 years ago, were given one million pounds by the Welsh Government to promote Wales over there, to allow people to see what Wales is all about. And fair play to Qatar Airways. We have an affiliate program with them through our website, they advertise out there and they fly direct to Cardiff. But what we need to do now to expand on that is one flight in from the United States and one flight in from Canada. We already do it via the hub, but people don’t like hubs, they like a direct flight.
The other way we’ve done it with Fly 2 Wales is we’ve capitalised on Welsh people who are already living in the United States, Canada and elsewhere around the world, who are already of Welsh descent. We’ve built up a database of the Welsh societies of St David’s and listed them on our website. I’ve sent t-shirts, pens, all sorts of merchandise, to Belgium, to Singapore, to Kansas, California, everywhere. So this is another way that we can capitalise on promoting Wales and these people are already in place.
Everything’s in place. But for the life of me, I cannot see why over the years people have not capitalised on it. Look at all the Welsh roots in America. Look at Philadelphia. Look at all Baptist Churches. Look at all the people. Look at the Declaration of Independence. 56 signatories and 16 of those are of Welsh descent. The last six or seven US Presidents are of Welsh descent. Abraham Lincoln was of Welsh descent!
You could say that the USA was built by the Welsh!
It was! If you read into it, you’ll find that most of the stock exchange and most of New York was built by the Welsh. So it’s all in place and we’ve just got to capitalise and utilise what we have already.
“Look at all the Welsh roots in America. Look at Philadelphia. Look at all Baptist Churches. Look at all the people. Look at the Declaration of Independence. 56 signatories and 16 of those are of Welsh descent. The last six or seven US Presidents are of Welsh descent. Abraham Lincoln was of Welsh descent!”
Which other people or organisations are you collaborating with to help further the Fly2Wales mission?
We got in touch with St David’s World, and we’ve been welcomed and been in touch with Global Welsh, who are friends of ours and we are pioneers of them. We’re friends with Wales Week Worldwide and Nellie Williams from Berkshire – she is a Brecon Beacons Ambassador and doing a fantastic job by the way. Although she’s from Berkshire, her husband’s Welsh, and she is fantastic – so passionate. Unbelievable that woman is, I admire Nellie a lot. Another one is Pippa Jones. Pip is a fantastic worldwide travel blogger and travel writer. She goes all over the world doing it. It’s her job and life. She’s just set up “Wales Bucket List” and she’s asked me to collaborate with her on it, and her whole idea for her setup is simple: the platform she’s put together, will show people from outside of Wales and the rest of the world and even people who live in Wales, what we have here, the best places to eat, the best places to visit, have you seen this, you’ve got to go here, activities, accommodation and so forth. She again is a fantastic contributor in what she’s doing for Wales, and again, not getting paid for it. She’s a really knowledgeable person and to write an article about any place in the world she visits, I certainly couldn’t do it. But she’s so passionate.
You have strong links with the St David’s Societies around the world. Can you tell us a bit about the work you do to support them?
The other way I look at it is, rather than just doing constant advertising, look at what we already have of Wales and people who are already linked to Wales: it’s the societies. So I’ve been in touch with all of them – there’s loads, the list is endless. Back before Christmas, the Halifax Celtic Festival was on in Kansas, and the St David’s Society of Kansas City asked me if I would send some Welsh products over and my merchandise for the Celtic Festival which was held in Halifax, and I did, and it went down very well.
I’ve got a few things to send out again to America for Christmas events for the Welsh societies, and hopefully a trip to Houston next year if the situation allows, to pick up with Visit Houston and Houston First. Houston First are the Visit Wales of Houston but they don’t just do tourism, they do trade, inbound investment, everything, and it’s quite a big entity, massive in fact. A lot of people work for Houston First and I have links with them, and I’m hoping we can build on that and have links to Wales.
I’d like to give Travis Middleton a mention in Houston, Texas, the reason I met Travis – who is a good friend of mine, a Texan who’s wife is Welsh – is that he’s done a lot for Wales. I think that guy would be a fantastic ambassador for Wales, I really do. In what he does behind the scenes, he’s always got Wales in mind. Scotland as well actually; he’s bringing a ship over at the moment – an iron clad cargo ship built in the 1850s. He’s assisting in arranging the insurance through his company TradeMark Insurance agency for the ship to come back from America to Scotland where it originated from.
What do you see as being the ultimate achievement for Fly 2 Wales?
Fly2Wales is more of a hobby to me. The whole idea of Fly 2 Wales is not so much the money side of things, but it was just to prove to people that there is a need for independent organisations out there. Between the likes of myself at Fly 2 Wales, Global Welsh, and you at St David’s World, there is a need for it. Together we stand, and united we’ve formed. We need more people involved, and more people with passion for Wales who can get it out there to all these different countries – people like yourselves and me, and many others who are business people with different experiences, who can perhaps see outside of the box, and see things that perhaps others can’t.
All I would like before my dying day is the recognition of someone saying, “that guy was right all along; there was another approach to people coming into Wales”.
Kay lewis 1 week, 2 days ago
Yes, yes, have been saying all of the above for years.we done couldnt agree more..its so frustrating that we cant fly direct to wales from toronto! We have been in canada for 30yrs and go back every couple of yrs. Frie ds and family come here to visit but still cant fly direct.
Im a member of many welsh groups here in burlington ontario,…[Read more]
Richard V Jones 1 week, 2 days ago
I’m sure a lot of the Aussies would be interested in flying direct to Cardiff Airport.