The word from industry leaders is that Wales is now becoming the tourism capital of Europe during a recent Go Wales conference at Liverpool’s international Festival of Business. The conference, curated by MD of Wales Tourism, Jim Dean celebrated North Wales’s major success stories, including the ever growing Zip World and Rib Ride.
According to the speakers, the industry has seen a massive shift in tourism trends in recent years. In the past, attractions were driven by visitors who wanted something to do whist they were here. Now, our attractions drive visitors to Wales. This is said to be with thanks to a collaborative approach companies are taking. Tools such as Adventure Map are bringing companies and their personalities together to build a stronger economy for Wales. The Chairman of North Wales Business Council, Ashley Rodgers stated that the growth in these now world famous adventure centres helped boost the visitor economy to as much as £2bn a year.
All of our North Wales adventure activities benefit from and utilise the amazing landscape that’s open to them. Zip World, noted as one of the major Welsh success stories highlighted at the conference, uses two disused slate mines as their zip line hubs (Titan and Velocity). At Blaenau Ffestiniog, Zip World has also transformed the abandoned caves into a colourful world of bouncing nets with slides and rope bridges. And on a derelict industrial site in the heart of the Conwy valley is now Surf Snowdonia; a surfing company who have built a man-made surfing lagoon, powered by a long surf machine.
Based in Menai Bridge is Rib Ride, an adventure boat company now in their tenth year of business. They run a range of trips along the coast to suit the visitor; ‘bridges and swellies’, ‘puffin and seals’ and ‘castle and islands’. Like Dragon Raiders (an activity park based in Criccieth), Rib Ride are using the ‘Bear Grylls experience’ to draw in their visitors. Phil Scott, co-founder of Rib Ride said “we now need to move to become a community of adventure, where every participant, every resident, every visitor, every business is an ambassador, a guide and a friend. We also need to ensure that we preserve and enhance the essence that created and inspired the adventure we have been on so far.”
A philosophy that Wales needs to continue on this path of growth is shared by many at the Go North Wales conference. Award winning entrepreneur, Gareth Jones, MD of the Carbon Zero Group spoke that he’d set up five new business ventures in the last year including a dedicated glamping construction company.
Tourism Strategy North Wales (2010-2015) notes that there is still room for growth in overcoming the challenges of a seasonal market and expanding our reach. According to the strategy, our future lies in capitalising on its spectacular natural beauty, landscapes and heritage. This is something Wales is evidentially working towards.