North Wales – The UK’s Heart Of Adventure
By Ceidiog Hughes
Ambitious plans have been unveiled to turn North Wales into the top adventure destination of the UK. That’s the vision of Tourism Partnership North Wales, the body responsible for the strategic development of the region’s visitor economy, who see the outdoor sector as a vital component of the visitor economy.
The new Heart of Adventure campaign aims to build on the region’s reputation as a hotspot for action packed holidays. The region’s outdoor sector already employs more than 8,500 people while bringing in more than £150 million a year. Tourism Partnership commissioned a study looking to create a brand with the aim of helping to elevate North Wales into the top five UK visitor destinations and to be number one with thrill seekers. The aim is to bring 50 outdoor specialist companies on board, generate an extra £500,000 in visitor spending and create 25 new jobs in the process.
The Heart of Adventure brand was officially launched at a reception for mountaineering equipment firm DMM’s European Climbing Team in Llanberis. Tourism Partnership’s Regional Strategy Director, Dewi Davies, explained that the vision was to create a brand that firmly established North Wales as the destination for outdoor activity in the UK.
He said: “The interest in outdoor adventure has shown consistent growth whether from weekend adventurers or committed enthusiasts. People are looking for new places to visit and our competitors are only too aware of this and we know they, like us, are working hard to increase visitor numbers. We feel by working together and with businesses and attractions speaking with one voice we can show just what North Wales has to offer. And showing we really offer something different will be key to our success. Up to now we have had many different voices all sending out their own message about what North Wales offers the dabbler or the daredevil. We now need to ensure that as well as a warm welcome we help people experiment with the huge variety of adventures we offer. I really believe North Wales has a golden opportunity to become the future of outdoor adventure through the quality of our activities, the variety of our adventures and the sheer passion we have for the outdoors. The message has to be that North Wales is unique in that it’s compact, all in one place, central, perfectly placed within the UK and as it’s a different country where there are real cultural differences to enjoy too.”
He added: “But the most important message has to be that here in North Wales the ourdoor sector are passionate, proud and pioneering. Passionate in that we are full of real heart and humour, proud of our unique culture and heritage and pioneering in that we are literally brimming with individual spirit.”
Ben Slack, the International Export Manager at DMM, which employs 200 people and produces mountaineering products for the global market, told the audience North Wales really is a special place. He said: “The rock here in North Wales is different, it’s special whether you look at the slate, sandstone or sea cliffs. It’s challenging and nothing like what you experience in mainland Europe for example. I know foreign climbers like to come here as we offer climbing in its purest form. There are no bolt-ons in our rock faces like you get in Europe. Climbers have to think and tackle blank rock faces themselves. Of course it’s not just climbing as North Wales has so much more to offer whether you like mountain biking, canoeing, hiking or any other adventure. I believe TPNW have done the right thing in coming up with the Heart of Adventure brand. It’s now up to business and attractions to sign up to the concept and begin speaking firmly as one voice.”
Professional climber Alex Luger, 25, of Vorarlberg, Austria, who is sponsored by DMM, said: “It is nothing like I expected. It’s been amazing and the climbing is fantastic. “In the Alps, for example, every rock face has bolts drilled into crevices so you just clip on and climb knowing everything is safe. Here, there are no bolts so you have to think for yourself. This is climbing the traditional way and it’s harder mentally and physically and much more adventurous. It’s certainly a place I would recommend and somewhere I’d like to come back to again.”
German climber, Chris Igel, 23, of Franconia, Bavaria, was equally impressed. He said: “It’s been brilliant and much more adventurous. A really special place that pushes your climbing skills to the limits as you have to think really hard and work out your climb. The hospitality has been very good as well. All in all it’s a wonderful place to visit .”