Clean-up campaigners have pledged to ensure international tourists are not put off by claims that Welsh beaches suffer from above-average levels of litter.
But Keep Wales Tidy (KWT) disputes the claims and says all the beaches will be clean for the tourist season.
And Heledd Parry, tourism public relations manager in Welsh Government, said: “We would not expect this news to deter international visitors.”
KWT says the survey conducted by MCS was based on just 25 Welsh beaches over one weekend in September 2013 after the main tourist season and neglected the impact of weather conditions.
Rhossili Bay on the Gower peninsula, which was in the survey of MCS, was named the best beach in the UK by Trip Advisor in February 2013, as well as featuring in the top 10 in the world. While Barafundle and Tenby, which are also regularly in the best beach charts for their fantastic facilities, did not appear in the survey.
KWT chief executive Lesley Jones said: “The reality is that if a visitor arrived at one of our many award winning beaches, particularly during the tourist season, he or she would find a spotless beach.”
MCS defended its survey.
Its chief executive officer Samantha Fanshawe said: “Survey methods have been tried and tested over two decades, and are being recommended by the UK Government for adoption by all European countries to monitor the levels of litter to comply with new European Directives to improve environmental quality.
“Litter is widely recognised as a significant problem on beaches all around the UK and globally.”
MCS also says that while beach litter levels fluctuate over the years, and factors such as weather can impact the amount of rubbish found on every day, the overall trend has been upwards, with plastic litter in particular more than doubling since the 1990s.
Wales attracted 854,000 international visitors spending £346 million during 2012.The four top generating countries for overseas tourism to Wales were the Republic of Ireland, France, Germany and USA.
A Visit Wales survey of visitors at 55 sampling locations across Wales showed that 41 per cent of overseas visitors chose beach/landscape/countryside as their reason for visiting
By Yang Liu