Thursday 26 April 2018


Wales ranked 6th in a review of 10 small countries and regions around the world, in terms of how attractive it is internationally - its ‘soft power’ 

Sport is Wales’ greatest soft power asset – ranked 2nd 

The report recommends Wales treats the Rugby World Cup in Japan as a major opportunity to promote the country overseas

A new report from British Council Wales (published today 26 April) says Wales should better use the appeal of its ‘soft power’, its culture, education and sport sectors, to gain more recognition and influence on the world stage. 

The report, ‘Wales Soft Power Barometer 2018’ compares Wales to nine countries and regions across the world. 

Overall, Wales ranked sixth in the Index, behind Quebec, Scotland, Flanders, Catalonia and Hokkaido in Japan and ahead of Corsica, Northern Ireland, Jeju in South Korea and Puerto Rico.

The report combines analysis of existing data on each area’s government, use of digital technology, culture, enterprise, engagement and education with the results of a newly commissioned survey of 5000 people in ten countries. 

The survey asked people’s opinion on the cuisine, friendliness to tourists, luxury brands, political values, liveability, culture and sport of Wales and the nine comparable regions and countries.

In the survey Wales was ranked second for sport, just behind Catalonia, and ninth for cuisine, leaving last place to Northern Ireland.

In the data analysis Wales scored best for its digital technology, taking third place behind Scotland and Jeju and for its enterprise sector, at fourth place, outperforming larger regions Catalonia and Hokkaido. Education was Wales’ weakest performance area, coming in seventh. 

Head of Education for British Council Wales, Chris Lewis, said: “Globalisation and devolution present major new opportunities to countries such as Wales, which do not have the same foreign policy levers as nation-states, to operate on the world stage. We’re pleased to see the report finds that Wales has considerable soft power resources. The appeal of our sporting culture has clearly been boosted by Wales’ performance at Euro 2016 and the country’s digital infrastructure and investment environment are among its other strengths. 

“The challenge now, particularly in the context of Brexit, is to build on this performance and unlock our true soft power potential. We’re calling on the Welsh Government to develop a new international strategy for Wales that will really help bolster global engagement”.

“Small nations, regions and cities around the world are increasingly aware that they have so-called ‘soft power’ and are using this to attract inward investment, boost trade and increase tourist and international student numbers.”

The report and the future for Wales’ soft power will be discussed at a conference in Cardiff on 26 April, where First Minister Carwyn Jones will give the keynote speech. The conference has been organised by British Council Wales in conjunction with the Institute of Welsh Affairs.

The report was written by Jonathan McClory of Portland, who produce the Soft Power 30, the annual ranking of the countries with the most influential soft power in the world.

Notes to Editor

The countries and regions analysed in the report were chosen based on several considerations, including level of devolved government authority, GDP size, population size, geographic spread, level of development, and history of international ambitions and engagement.

The ten countries where 5,000 people’s opinions were polled were:

•  Canada

•  China

•  United Arab Emirates

•  France

•  Germany

•  India

•  Ireland

•  Japan 

•  Qatar

•  US

Overall Soft Power Scores:

1  QUEBEC       65.75%

2  SCOTLAND   62.23%

3  FLANDERS   56.44%

4  CATALONIA  54.86%

5  HOKKAIDO   52.52%

6  WALES        48.62%

7  CORSICA    42.70%


9  JEJU        31.61%

10 PUERTO RICO  27.81%

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Last year we reached over 65 million people directly and 731 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. We make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.

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