Jamie Hibbard explores the positive impact of the Euros for ‘Brand Wales’
You couldn’t go anywhere in Wales during the Euro 2016 championships without being palpably aware of the hopes and dreams being placed squarely on the Welsh football team.
As soon as work finished for many people in the evening, you could sense the tension building as everyone scrabbled to get home in time for the game.
Never has Wales been more coloured by its famous raw emotion, and never more has the national colour of red run through the mountains, valleys, cities, towns, homes, bars, pubs, the Fanzone at the Principality, the Parc Olympique Lyonnais – and across the pitch itself – like blood in the nation’s veins.
Whatever your thoughts about what actually happened on the pitch, you can’t deny that the exposure which the team’s ‘underdog-done-good’ success story has brought to Wales as a whole can only be a good thing.
The world’s attention was on Wales – brand Wales’ stock has never been higher.
And rightly so. There have been plenty of positives to shout about Wales, and that positivity has now been given a brilliant platform from which to expose it.
It’s possible – probable, likely – that people in Europe and the wider world may never have really paid much attention to Wales before, and so with this new-found interest in Britain’s most passionate nation, what should it do next?
Gareth Bale was understandably always going to be the brightest shining star for Wales, and being so well media trained he is likely to continue to be a vocal exponent of the Welsh brand.
Visit Wales is well aware of the positives that have come from the Euro 2016 exposure too.
Arguably the biggest challenge in boosting Welsh tourism is making Wales more visible to people who are unaware of it, after all you can’t go on holiday somewhere if you don’t know it exists. If Google is anything to go by, our nation has never been more visible in and outside of Europe.
The online interest in Wales has already led to a big surge in visitors to the Visit Wales website according to Economy Secretary Ken Skates, and now the goal is to “make sure we convert that interest into actual visits.” 
Cue our biggest brand ambassadors, the loyal Welsh fans that travelled with the team during the Euros. If anyone has ‘sold’ Wales at this year’s championships it has been them. With guards of honour  and touching moments of togetherness , our fans have endeared themselves to the rest of Europe .
If our stunning national parks, rugged coastlines, beautiful beaches, impressive castles, and cultural hotspots aren’t impressive enough, the behaviour of our fans has shown that visitors will also be treated to a warm and friendly reception upon arrival.
Another brilliant side effect of our Euro 2016 success is the positive emotional connection to sport will be felt by children– in the same way as the rugby highs have been doing for so long – which can only be a good thing. Getting young people interested in sport inevitably leads to more playing sport, creating a healthier, happier nation. That upside will keep on having benefits for years to come.
Now the momentum is with Wales, we all need to needs to keep upbeat and find ways to promote the Welsh feel-good factor to the rest of the world. Social media is such a strong tool in the hands of everyone, and continuing to extol the best of Wales(?) en masse will be hard to ignore. #TogetherStronger, after all.
So, ignore the grumblings of some corners that ‘we shouldn’t celebrate failure’, the Welsh football team showed great heart throughout the entire championship, and rightly deserve the adulation they are being given, for the benefit of Wales as a whole.
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