Posted: Tue 11th Jun 2024

FOI flurry reveals £45k spent by Welsh Government on Metaverse tourism project for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area

Welsh Government’s dabble into the Metaverse has cost around £45k, several FOIs have revealed.

In mid May Welsh Government announced that Wales had become the first UK nation to launch in the metaverse, giving virtual visitors from across the world a taste of what they can discover here for real.

According to the Welsh Government there are 600 million global visitors annually across a number of metaverse platforms, with Wales’ one being hosted on the platform Spatial.

As we reported at the time the Welsh world had been created in “partnership” with Swansea-based Meta architects, iCreate, but no pricing details or ongoing costs were released.

It appears the launch prompted a mini flood of Freedom of Information requests (not from over the costs and other details of the project.

Most of the FOIs ask how much the project cost, with the generic answer, “The Wales Metaverse was commissioned by Visit Wales for digital tourism marketing activity and development was delivered by a third-party contractor specialising in the field. We cannot disclose, due to commercial confidentiality, a detailed breakdown of costs and hours attributable to the developer however, we can confirm that in total i.e. technical development, licence fees and hosting for the next six months, the project has been delivered for less than £16,000.”

Another FOI requests hours spent on it, if there was a cost benefit analysis (and to provide it) and what the expected user figures are. Those are not answered in detail but a narrative reply is given, “Regarding cost benefit analysis, the activity is part of Visit Wales core digital marketing activity, which seeks to reach new audiences. The Metaverse entry point is “housed” on the Visit Wales website, the anchor for all campaign marketing activity. Part of this project activity was the additional highlighting of Wales for creativity and innovation and will be evaluated through audience reach.

“Viewing figures for the first two weeks have been approximately 4,800 and the positive media attention garnered over the same period has included coverage in Europe and the US across over 30 titles covering national news and travel and specialist tech.

“Regarding players expected in coming years, this is a trial running for six months, so will be reviewed at that point before longer term activity is considered.
If you would like to discuss how Visit Wales uses data and insights to inform competitive digital marketing, we would be happy to have a follow up conversation if that is something that would be of interest.”

At the time Welsh Government detailed how Visit Wales is “using billboard ads in the virtual world of Roblox”, and one of the FOI replies also explains more will be spent on related promotion, “In terms of promotional spend, the Wales Metaverse will be promoted as part of Visit Wales’ digital campaign activity (and will equate to approximately £30k over the next six months) which drives potential visitors to the Visit Wales website to inspire holiday planning. The Metaverse entry point is “housed” on the Visit Wales website, where visitors can also be inspired by the widest range of information around visiting Wales “in real life”.”

At the time of writing there were now 5,300 views – an extra 500 from when the FOI responses were collated.

You can view the site here, with the ‘entry point’ embedded in it that does take a short while to load:

(Welsh Government deem useful for press releases, such as the Metaverse launch, however again that appears part of ‘earned’ coverage rather than part of the £30k promo)

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