Page last updated at 06:53 GMT, Friday, 22 January 2010

'Top five' aim for north Wales tourism plan

White water rafting centre in the Snowdonia National Park. pic BBC/Richard Sowersby
The new tourism strategy aims to make a splash through greater investment in the burgeoning outdoor activities sector. Photo: BBC/Richard Sowersby

A plan to boost tourism and turn north Wales into one of the UK's top five visitor destinations is being launched.

It aims for greater investment in the outdoor activities market and providing a "wow factor" for visitors through a warm welcome and good service.

The industry says it already supports 37,000 jobs and generates £1.8bn in spending by tourists each year.

The aim of the strategy devised by Tourism Partnership North Wales is to break the £2bn barrier by 2015.

The plan is being unveiled by heritage minister Alun Ffred Jones at the Galeri in Caernarfon.

He said tourism provided the lifeblood for many small businesses.

Snowdonia National Park
Becoming one of the top five visitor destinations in the UK
Investing in the "excellence of the tourism offer" including the burgeoning outdoor activities sector
Creating a "wow factor" for visitors through a warm welcome and good service in "spick and span surroundings" so they enjoy an outstanding experience
Making the best and most efficient use of the marketing budget through more collaboration with partners
Source: Tourism Partnership North Wales

"I believe it can make an even greater contribution in future and is a sustainable sector which, properly managed, will continue to thrive for generations to come," he added.

"To achieve its full potential, then all involved in tourism need to agree where it is heading and work to a common agenda.

"That is the purpose of this document - to highlight the importance of tourism, set out a vision for its future, and identify the strategic priorities and action needed to take us there."

The plan has been overseen by a steering group with representation from all tourism sectors in north Wales and has involved close to 200 people.

The tourism partnership's strategy director Dewi Davies said the opportunities and challenges facing the industry had changed in recent years.

He said fuel prices, the current recession and security concerns meant families had less disposable income and could be more inclined to holiday in the UK.

"We also live in a society with a generally ageing population and our challenge is to respond to these ever changing circumstances," he added.

"The competition is stiff because we are up against more than 2,000 competitor destinations and our new strategy is proof positive that we are up for that challenge.

"We are determined to maximize our advantages so that we re-establish the region as one of the top five UK destinations by capitalising on what makes this area special - the fantastic landscapes, mountains and fantastic coastline."

Mr Davies said it was a "key advantage" that north Wales was close to around 25% of the UK population - and within a two-hour drive for 16.5m people.

He said they were already working closely with colleges, the outdoor, holiday park and hospitality sector to ensure jobs for young people.

"All too often in the past young people have been forced to live and work outside the area and our strategy is design to counteract this trend," he added.

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