As the Wales Coast path marks its first birthday, Minister for the Economy, Science and Transport, Edwina Hart underlines the importance of Wales’ coastline to Wales’ tourism industry.
According to the Great Britain Tourism Survey (2011), 34% of trips to Wales by UK visitors were to the seaside. This is significantly higher than for other areas. UK visitors to the Welsh coast spent £641m in the Welsh economy during 2011.
Minister for the Economy, Science and Transport, said: “The Welsh coast is one of our most important tourism assets and development and promotion of coastal tourism products is a core part of Visit Wales’ work. The Coastal Tourism Strategy looks at how we can develop coastal tourism, which realises and builds on the economic potential of the coastline of Wales but while respecting its environmental quality and recognising the importance of achieving community benefits.
“The Welsh Government is leading on the sustainable development of the coastline and investing in the infrastructure, leisure facilities, quality and sustainable management via a range of infrastructure and regeneration programmes.”
One example is the EU funded Coastal Tourism Centres of Excellence project which is an investment of £18.3 million shared between four projects. Three key centres of excellence have been chosen to develop high quality watersports and activity tourism product around the coast.
Work is underway at Aberdaron and Pembrokeshire while the Swansea Bay– 360 Centre opened to the public in September 2012. The centre offers an unique multisport facility situated at the heart of Swansea Bay.
The fourth project to receive funding is the Green Sea Programme which is working to get Wales’s coastal environment recognised internationally as one of the best in Europe for the quality of its beaches, conservation and management of its biodiversity and the quality of its sea water. The programme will see improvements to facilities, access, signage, interpretation and sustainable management at 14 specific beaches.
The Wales Coast Path also features in the new VisitEngland campaign which aims to inspire people to holiday in the UK during 2013. The famous duo – Wallace & Gromit have been recruited as Tourism Trailblazers. The £4m integrated campaign, led by VisitEngland, and supported by Visit Wales will see Wallace & Gromit take to the road exploring the country and discovering the best of the UK. The advert [attached] for Wales sees them on a stretch of the Wales Coast Path.
The Minister concluded: “The Wales Coast Path has already provided a £16m boost to the Welsh economy and has been voted by the Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2012 publication Coastal Wales was the greatest region on earth to visit in 2012. It has also attracted many new events to Wales. The Red Bull Cliff Diving Competition took place in Wales for the first time in 2012 – the first and only UK host. We look forward to welcoming the event back to Wales in September.
“Visit Wales will continue to work with the tourism industry on or around the coast path to develop packages and improve the quality of the visitor experience to ensure that the path provides the highest possible economic benefit for Wales.”
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