Big push to make 2016 the Year of Adventure in Wales
Published: Friday 30th Oct 2015
Written by: Anita Lee
Wales is best known for a lot of things: rugby, Dylan Thomas and daffodils. But in 2016, tourist industry leaders are hoping when you hear Wales, you will think that adventure is waiting for you.
Throughout the year, Visit Wales has been announcing “ambassadors” who are urging visitors to visit the home country next year – what they are calling the Year of Adventure in 2016. The first three that were named were famed TV adventurer and survivalist Bear Grylls, former Welsh rugby player Richard Parks, and motivational speaker Tori James.
Last month, they added another thrill-seeker to the line-up of ambassadors for the campaign. Vale of Glamorgan endurance athlete Maria Leijerstam has joined the team. Leijerstam hopes to help shine a spotlight on the country. With the stunning Pembrokeshire coast, its mining valley, and the rugged mountains and hills of Snowdonia, Wales is investing money, time and great effort in luring adventure travellers.
"Adventure sport is about pushing boundaries and Wales has the perfect environment for exciting one day competitions," Leijerstam said to Adventure Travel Magazine.
A focus on adventure and tourism
The Welsh government is dedicating their marketing efforts to enticing adventure enthusiasts from around the world. According to the government, tourism accounts for more than £480 million of the local economy. It also provides residents with more than 8,000 jobs.
Paul Donovan, chair of the Wales Adventure Tourism Organisation, said there are more and more adventure attractions being added each year. Adventure tourism has seen growth in Wales for the last few years, and now accounts for as much as 10 per cent of all tourist activities.
"The one activity that keeps going from strength to strength is coasteering," Donovan said to the BBC. "Pembrokeshire and Anglesey in particular are truly amazing locations for it. It's the ruggedness of the environment, the range of tide, and the rock formations.
"There's also some fantastic wildlife - not just in the water but on the rocks as well,” he said.
From giant zip lines, to underground trampoline parks and man-made surfing, Wales has plenty of attractions to entice adrenaline junkies. Nearby to our holiday cottages in Pembrokeshire, you can go scuba diving, sea kayaking, boating, and surfing.
"I think there's such a wide variety for opportunities," adventure ambassador Parks said. "We have some of the most hostile and brilliant mountains and regions for the more hard core, like Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons. The fact the SAS hold one of the hardest parts of their selection process there says it all.
"But we also have the wonderful coastal path which is a different end of the spectrum and can be enjoyed by all ages and abilities."
Grylls, possibly the world’s best known adventurer, said, “The beautiful, rugged and wild terrain of Wales lends itself so well to so many activities and adventures.”
Adventure is waiting for you in 2016
One of the places gearing up for the year of adventure is the aptly named Adventure Beyond situated just outside of Llandysul, Carmarthenshire. The company offers tours and activities throughout Wales. They offer coasteering in famous Pembrokeshire locations, as well as some hidden gems. The company also leads canoeing and white water rafting tours. If getting wet isn’t your thing, Adventure Beyond also leads gorge walking and adventure racing.
For those looking for the thrill of speed, in northern Wales, Zip World offers some amazing attractions. On their ‘Velocity’ zip line, riders reach speeds in excess of 100 mph. The Zip World ‘Titan’ offers four riders the chance to ride together – the only one of its kind in Europe. And in a one-of-a-kind experience, the Zip World Caverns allow visitors to enjoy all zip line courses completely underground.
For a bit of adventure just outside the door to your Pembrokeshire holiday cottage, Climb Pembroke will get you climbing some of the county’s majestic cliffs. Started by a local climbing enthusiast, the company offers guided sea cliff excursions, leads skills courses, and helps to organise climbing holidays. Contact Climb Pembroke directly for more information.