GlobalWelsh publishes new research into diaspora attitudes to Wales
Positive shift in perceptions over the last ten years
GlobalWelsh, the not-for-profit organisation focused on connecting Welsh people globally, has published new digital research conducted among English-language diaspora using big data in 2020. Sapient.d, which specialises in digital anthropology conducted the research.
- Wales is seeing the strongest growth in digital discussion by diaspora among the six Celtic nations / regions measured (Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall, Manx, Brittany). Whilst Ireland and Scotland have higher volumes of diaspora discussion Wales has the strongest growth over 2015 – 2020 (fig. 1)
- Between 2016 and 2019 Wales has shown the greatest growth in trust by diaspora compared with Scotland, Ireland, the Isle of Mann and Cornwall and now leads the trust index. The concept of ‘trust’ included views on economic trade policies and a perception of how a nation does business on the world stage. The research factored in key words which indicated trust including ‘honour’, ‘fair dealing’ and ‘ease of business’ (fig. 2 )
- The top four industries diaspora most associate with Wales are manufacturing, tourism, electronics and technology (fig. 3)
- Welsh diaspora have higher than average educational attainment and the primary engagement is among diaspora aged 40 to 60. Both these factors suggest mid to upper range income brackets and high levels of professionals who are digitally active and engaged, travel and can make investments (fig. 4)
- Over a ten year period (2008 compared with 2019) the words diaspora associated with Wales became significantly more positive. In 2008 key words included ‘poor’, depressing’, ‘uneducated’ and ‘dark’. In 2019 these words were replaced by new terms included ‘industrious’, ‘sophisticated’, ‘learned’, ‘adventurous’ and ‘ecological’ (fig. 5)
- The top societal associations of Wales held by the diaspora are: clever, industrious, ethical and tough. The top cultural associations with Wales are literature, druidry, thinkers and intellectuals. The top symbol was the Welsh dragon (fig. 6)
Giles Crouch, managing partner of sapient.d, born in the UK and a dual citizen of Canada of Welsh descent said: “Wales is enjoying part of the renaissance of Celtic culture around the world. Wales has become much more prominent in the last few years. There has been quite a shift in perceptions over ten years in a positive and transformative way.”
Walter May, founder and CEO of GlobalWelsh said: “Wales is on the cusp of an exciting time of opportunity and the diaspora are a key part of that. They are engaged, are likely to be able to invest in Wales, understand the new economy Wales is growing, have very strong cultural associations and (usually!) are a strong source of tourism.”
The research specifically measured reasons the diaspora would travel to Wales. The highest motivator at 47 per cent was Heritage and Ancestry, wanting to ‘trace their roots’. Second was Celtic Culture (33%), followed by Adventure and Eco Travel (12%) and the Eisteddfod, which alone accounted for eight per cent (fig.7). Many people call Wales the ‘New Zealand of the north’ with Tolkein and similar fantasy references. The online activity of the diaspora show their top interest is literature along with a wide range of other interests including travel (fig. 8).
The Welsh language is increasingly popular with Welsh diaspora especially third and fourth generations who take pride in learning key words and phrases to share on social media channels. This gives them a sense of belonging to Wales and its culture. There has been a strong increase in interest in the Welsh language among men and women over the period 2016 to 2020 (fig. 9).
Walter May commented: “As well as the opportunity for Welsh diaspora to invest in Wales GlobalWelsh believes this research points the way for Welsh businesses which are interested in trading and selling internationally to engage with this audience. By creating and targeting content in which the diaspora has an interest, businesses will see increased engagement.”
Figure 1 (please note these figures are not adjusted per capita)
Figure 7. Why do diaspora visit Wales (usually!)
Figure 9. Popularity of Welsh language