With celebrations underway for ‘Wales Tourism Week’, Wales Office Minister David Jones today [2nd March 2012] visited North Wales to see how the region is playing a key role in promoting Wales’ heritage industries and buildings. He first visited Chirk in the Ceiriog Valley, before visiting Llandudno in Conwy, the Minister observed how tourist operators and local projects are boosting local economies, increasing volunteer and work opportunities and putting Wales on the map.
In anticipation of the Olympics bringing in thousands of visitors to the UK this year, Wales Tourism Week aims to showcase the region as an inspirational tourist destination and highlight its potential economic significance. The Minister visited Chirk in Wrexham, to see how the Castle, Marina and Tramway Trust are using the region’s industrial and cultural heritage as a catalyst for economic regeneration as well as promoting Wales as a tourist destination.
The Minister first met with Chirk Castle property manager Emma Thompson to see how the castle is using volunteers to aid its expansion plans, before visiting the site for Glyn Valley Tramway Trust to see how restoration plans are developing following the granting of planning permission for phase one of a 1.2 mile track between Chirk and Pontfaen. There, the Minister also met with Alison Phillips and Jacob Evans, from the award-winning social enterprise ‘Imagematch’, who are working with the Trust to provide work experience and volunteer opportunities for long-term unemployed people during the transformation phase. The train track is expected to significantly draw new visitors to the area, already rich with industrial heritage.
The Minister later next visited Chirk Marina to meet with Dorothy Davies of ‘Marine Services Chirk / Crest Narrowboats’ to see how the impact of nearby world heritage site Poncysyllte is boosting business for the marina and fleet of narrow boats, before meeting with Jason Leach (Strategic Enterprise Manager for British Waterways) to discuss future plans for British Waterways’ new identity in Wales ‘Glandwr Cymru’ (Waterside Wales).
Later, the Minister undertook a tour of the National Trust’s ‘Bodysgallen Hall & Spa’ for a tour of the 17th century Grade 1 building and tower, before meeting Justin Albert, the National Trust’s new Director for Wales to discuss the Trust’s future development plans.
Mr Jones said: “It has been encouraging to witness the great work being undertaken by volunteers and local organisations. They are playing their part not only in keeping the magic of the past alive, but by using it as a way of providing worthwhile opportunities for people to develop new skills with work experience and volunteering opportunities.
“Wales Tourism Week is helping to showcase what Wales has to offer and with the run up to the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games, we can look forward to a renewed interest in Wales’ attractions, as Olympic hopefuls from China and Lesotho each establish a base in North Wales.
“It has been exhilarating to witness the great efforts being made to continue the legacy of Wales’ industrial past, whilst shaping it for future audiences. North Wales has a rich history, worth celebrating and I am delighted that North Wales Tourism, British Waterways and National Trust are all playing their part in preserving and promoting the region’s tourist gems.”
Justin Albert, National Trust’s Director for Wales said: ““As the largest tourism business in Wales; welcoming more than a million people to our attractions, and providing free access to the stunning Welsh coast and countryside we care for to a further four million, the National Trust is committed to doing all we can to boost tourism in Wales.
”As a sector worth £1.8 billion to the Welsh economy it is essential that we continue to build on our successes and play a key role in attracting and entertaining visitors to Wales.”
Dorothy Davies, Managing Director of Chirk Marina said: Dorothy Davies, Managing Director of Chirk Marina **said: “**With the holiday season nearly upon us we are delighted at the number of bookings already taken for the season ahead, we are looking forward to helping tourists discover the magic of the Llangollen Canal by narrowboat in 2012.
”We are lucky to have our business based here in the wonderful town of Chirk and on the World Heritage Site which attracts tourists from the world over to the area each year. Furthermore, with stay-at-home holidays and leisure boating also on the increase we have much to be optimistic and excited about in the future, with continued plans for expansion of our hire fleet”.
Jason Leach, British Waterways’ strategic enterprise manager **said: **“The canals in Wales are already one of the most accessible and well-used facilities for recreation in the country. Although originally built as transport routes, their prime use is now leisure and tourism. They do still have a role to play as sustainable transport routes but these days that means walking or gently cycling for pleasure.
”£34m of visitor spend is generated by the Welsh canals every year - supporting over 800 full time equivalent jobs in rural businesses which aren’t just of value to the tourist but also local communities, and Welsh waterways receive over 7.6 million visits each year to the towpaths.
”This year Wales’ canals will continue their own historic journey, as British Waterways changes to become the Canal & River Trust, Glandwr Cymru. This exciting move to the charitable sector will enable us to continue to exploit opportunities to develop economic, social and environmental benefits for all, and promote Welsh canals and rivers as a haven for people and wildlife.”
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