Poor-quality soil in much of Wales is unsuitable for crop-growing so livestock farming has been the focus of farming. About 78 per cent of the land surface is harnessed for agriculture. The Welsh landscape, with its three national parks and Blue Flag beaches, attracts large numbers of tourists, who bolster the economy of rural areas. Wales like Northern Ireland has relatively few high value-added employment in sectors such as finance and research and development, attributable in part to a comparative lack of ‘economic mass’ (i.e. population) – Wales lacks a large metropolitan center. The lack of high value-added employment is reflected in lower economic output per head relative to other regions of the UK – in 2002 it stood at 90 per cent of the EU25 average and around 80 per cent of the UK average. In June 2008, Wales made history by becoming the first nation to be awarded Fairtrade Status.
During 2020, and well into 2021, the restrictions and lockdowns necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic affected all sectors of the economy and “tourism and hospitality suffered notable losses from the pandemic” across the UK. As of 6 April 2021, visitors from “red list” countries were still not allowed to enter unless they were UK residents. Restrictions will “likely be in place until the summer”, one report predicted, with June being the most likely time for tourism from other countries to begin a rebound. On 12 April 2021, many tourist facilities were still closed in Wales but non-essential travel between Wales and England was finally permitted. Wales also allowed non-essential retail stores to open.
Cardiff Airport is the international airport of Wales. Providing links to European, African and North American destinations, it is about 12 miles (19 km) southwest of Cardiff city centre, in the Vale of Glamorgan. Intra-Wales flights run between Anglesey (Valley) and Cardiff, operated since 2017 by Eastern Airways. Other internal flights operate to northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Wales has four commercial ferry ports. Regular ferry services to Ireland operate from Holyhead, Pembroke Dock and Fishguard. The Swansea to Cork service was cancelled in 2006, reinstated in March 2010, and withdrawn again in 2012.
Flag of Wales:
The Flag of Wales (Y Ddraig Goch, meaning ‘the red dragon‘) consists of a red dragon passant on a green and white field. As with many heraldic charges, the exact representation of the dragon is not standardized and many renderings exist. The flag is not represented in the Union Flag.