Wales 2016: Year of Adventure – Grylls and Parks back Skates in making Wales the home of adventure.

The Welsh Government will embark on an unprecedented campaign to promote Wales as the world’s capital of adventure tourism. Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates will launch a series of themed years, beginning with the Year of Adventure in 2016.

The theming of future years will promote Wales’s greatest strengths and focus activities, events and attractions on the strongest qualities of the Welsh tourism offer.

Following The Year of Adventure in 2016 will be The Year of Legends in 2017 and The Year of the Sea in 2018.

Mr Skates promised to personally embark on as many adventures as possible to promote Wales as the world’s home of adventure and has secured the backing of two prominent adventurers, Bear Grylls and Richard Parks, who have agreed to be Adventure Ambassadors for Wales in 2016.

The Welsh Government has invested consistently in adventure tourism products in recent years which are putting Wales on the map as a leading adventure destination. Wales now boasts iconic, reputation changing attractions such as Zip World and the world’s largest underground trampoline.  Wales has World-class Mountain Biking facilities at centres such as Coed y Brenin, Bike Park Wales and Antur Stiniog.  The  870 miles of the Wales Coast Path is the longest continuous path along a nation’s coastline and will play a key role in the activities for 2016, it’s development has seen a growth in products associated with the coast path – costal restaurants, visitor and activity centres.   There are adventures to be had at some the major events taking place in Wales, IronMan, Festival No.6 and the Green Man Festival.  There are also adventures for everyone at Wales’ family attractions, Castles and wildlife centres. Surf Snowdonia, which is due to open in the summer will also add another game changing facility to Wales’ wealth of attractions.

The launch of the Year of Adventure will see Mr Skates take a flight on the world fastest zip wire at Zip World, Velocity, at Bethesda, in the company of leading tourism figures.

He said:

“This launch signals a huge ambition to promote Wales as the home of adventure in 2016.

“The Year of Adventure will see a series of major events and activities of considerable international significance.

“The year will build on world-first attractions, such as the biggest inland surfing centre on the planet at Surf Snowdonia and the fastest zip wire adventure on earth at Zip World, both of which have been supported by Welsh Government.

“During 2016 the people of Wales and visitors who travel here will experience the centenary celebrations of Roald Dahl, which will encompass attractions on an extraordinary scale.

“Children will be invited to take over and sleep in castles, museums and abbeys, surrounded by world-class adventure exhibitions, whilst treasure hunters will be able to take part in a Geocache challenge along the Wales Coastal Path.

“Family adventures involving great big picnics, stargazing and acrobatic circuses will take place, as well as opportunities for young people to write their own adventures.

“I’m also looking forward to announce more details on an initiative which will mean that for a handful of people, 2016 will deliver life changing Golden Tickets that will open the doors to a series of experiences that money cannot buy.”

The Deputy Minister continued:

“For the year of adventure in 2016 we’re going to work with partners to make sure that anyone who wants to can experience adventure in our fantastic landscapes and environment. Whether you’re a wild swimmer, a novice mountain biker, an explorer of hidden places, someone who wants to walk the coastal path or who wants to try a different outdoor sport we’ll be working to make sure the experience is something you’ll always remember.

“We’re looking forward to opening a discussion with the industry after the Easter holidays on how we can work together to make 2016 a success. I will also shortly announce a funding package which will help businesses to engage with this new concept.”

Richard Parks, former Wales international rugby union player, turned extreme athlete and adventurer, said:

“Throughout my life the landscape of Wales has been the foundation to all my endeavours. From hill repeats on Merthyr Mawr sand dunes as a rugby player, pounding the trails and the roads on my bikes, to deprivation training in the Brecon Beacon and Snowdonia National Parks, Wales has helped forged the person who I am today.

“It’s my great honour to be an Ambassador for the Year of Adventure, and my privilege to help promote Wales as a world leading destination for adventure. Adventure is relative to each and every one of us, it doesn’t have to be an extreme expedition. Anytime we choose to step outside of the parameters of our normal life is an opportunity for us to be more active, grow and learn more about the world that we live in.”

Finally, he added:

“I proudly carry my Welsh flag on all my expeditions, to some of the most remote and wonderful corners of our planet, and yet it never fails to amaze me just how blessed we are here at home in Wales.”

Bear Grylls, a world wide icon for the great outdoors and the ultimate in adventure, said:

“When you take people outside and get them to have a few adventures, the skills they learn are positivity, courage, determination and resourcefulness. Taking part in activities is about empowering people and we see people’s confidence and pride grow. Spending time doing something different and challenging yourself can really show people what they are made of.  I’ve had amazing experiences in Wales with my Survival Academy; the beautiful, rugged and wild terrain of Wales lends itself so well to so many activities and adventures.  I’m delighted to be an ambassador for next year – Wales is where the adventure starts in 2016.”

The Miller Report which was commissioned by Visit Wales and the Wales Activity Tourism Organisation (WATO) shows that outdoor activity tourism in Wales is an important part of the Welsh economy, worth £481 million and supporting 8,243 Welsh jobs, and will continue to grow in importance as the outdoor activity sector grows.