Tourism in Wales is growing, and is on target to grow even further with a series of themed years which will help to highlight Welsh attractions and activities, the country's tourism chief has said.
Earlier this year Deputy Minister Ken Skates announced a series of thematic years for Wales, starting with a Year of Adventure in 2016, followed by a Year of Legends in 2017 and a Year of the Sea in 2018.
Giving more details about the strategy, Doctor Manon Antoniazzi, director of tourism, sport and heritage for the Welsh Government, said Wales was well placed to build on a record-breaking year for tourism after the number of overnight visits to Wales by British residents hit 10 million in 2014.
She said the aim of the thematic years was to provide a focus for investment, project development and marketing; galvanise the people of Wales, inspire tourism markets, and enrich the Wales brand message globally.
Speaking to The Forum event at Cardiff Metropolitan University, Dr Antoniazzi said: "A Year of Adventure is a great place to start. The outdoor activity sector is worth £481 million to the Welsh economy. 2016 will see us build on a series of exciting new openings and developments, and more than 10 years of ongoing investment to make Wales the UK's leading adventure destination.
"The private sector, with Welsh Government backing in many instances, has built new icons for modern Wales.
"I should say that adventure means different things to different people, and while some of our activity will focus on pure adventure experiences for the likes of surfers, cyclists, canoeists, and hikers, Wales's big celebration will also include a wide range of gentler adventures, aimed at general markets, not least the people of Wales itself."
Dr Antoniazzi also said the year will provide an opportunity to showcase some of Wales's existing high-adrenaline major events, such as the Snowdonia Marathon, the Cardiff Triathlon and Ironman Wales – as well as cultural adventures events such as Green Man and Festival No6.
Wales has experienced a steady improvement in the tourism industry since the launch of the new tourism strategy in June 2013, which seeks to grow the industry by 10% by 2020 - up to 30% in real terms.
There has been strong growth for domestic holidays to Wales, when overall UK staycations have fallen. Its share of the domestic holiday market has also increased, while the international visits total also showing strong sustained growth.
Total staying visitor spend to Wales grew in 2014 by 2.7% to £2.1billion which means the Government is slightly ahead of progress to meet its strategic target of £2.48bn (10% real growth) by 2020.
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