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Last Updated: Monday, 14 June, 2004, 05:41 GMT 06:41 UK
Wales 'best venue' for sport
mixed fans
Four FA Cup finals have been held in Cardiff
Wales is one of the best venues in the UK for major sporting events, according to tourism chiefs.

Olympic cyclist Nicole Cooke will help launch a drive by the Wales Tourist Board (WTB) and partner bodies to make the most of sport-related tourism.

The WTB believes Wales has a competitive advantage and is launching plans to maximise the benefits.

Wales has secured several major events like the FA Cup, the Wales Rally GB, and British Speedway Grand Prix.

In 2010, one of the world's biggest tournaments - golf's Ryder Cup - will be staged at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport.

These kind of events bring massive spin-off benefits in economic terms, bringing thousands of spectators, all ready to spend money.

Cooke - BBC Welsh Sports Personality of the Year and a member of the British team in the 2004 Olympics in Greece - said continuing to raise the profile of Wales was vitally important.

The 21-year-old athlete - from Wick in the Vale of Glamorgan - said :"Wales has a wealth of natural assets, top-class sporting events and a successful record in hosting major events - which play a very important part in raising the profile of the host nation."

"It's important that we spread the word about what Wales has to offer as a sports destination."

Wales Tourist Board Chairman, Philip Evans said the aim was to put Wales on the world map.

"Our vision is for Wales to be recognised internationally as an icon location offering diverse and exciting opportunities for visitors, based on the quality and variety of our natural environment, facilities and distinct culture," he said.

Colin McCrae's car
Rally meetings bring in thousands of tourists
"The economic significance of international and national events, increased awareness of health and well-being, have increased interest in this sector over the last decade.

"Overall, 89% of holiday trips by UK residents to Wales involve some form of activity and we know that the holiday 'experience' is now the most important factor in selecting a destination. This strategy is now placing Wales far ahead of its competition."

Phil Carling, chairman of the Sports Council for Wales, said partnership was the key to securing Wales' place on the sporting map.

" "We look forward to working in partnership with WTB to help maximise the social and economic benefits of sport-related tourism," he said.

"It is clear that the new role that sport is being asked to play in advancing the well-being of the nation is not confined to health promotion. "

Economic Development and Transport Minister, Andrew Davies AM added: "Wales has a proven, successful track record in hosting major international sporting events such as the FA Cup final, the Rugby World Cup, and the Wales Rally GB.

"The new framework provides a platform to build on this success, and increase the significant contribution tourism already makes to the Welsh economy."

Cup final fans praised
18 May 03  |  Wales
Go-ahead for Wales Rally GB
24 Mar 04  |  Wales

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