Page last updated at 06:01 GMT, Thursday, 9 October 2008 07:01 UK

Valleys tourism gets cash boost

Bedwellty House
Bedwellty House in Tredegar has won a slice of the EU cash

The drive to bring more tourists to the Welsh valleys is being boosted by 9m in European funding.

The money will be pumped into schemes announced earlier this year in five local authorities.

It will also see cash used to extend sections of the Valleys Cycle Network by 25 miles.

The announcement by the assembly government comes as it unveiled a valleys tourism programme tied to the 2010 Ryder Cup in Newport.

The announcement of the successful bid for money from the EU Convergence Fund was made by the deputy minister for regeneration, Leighton Andrews.

He said the investment would build on a 5m investment programme made earlier this year for visitor attractions around the region.

Winners

Valleys Cycle Network

The General Offices, Ebbw Vale, Blaenau Gwent

Bedwellty House and Park, Tredegar, Blaenau Gwent

Former Markham Colliery, Caerphilly
Cyfarthfa Park, Merthyr Tydfil
Dare Valley Country Park, Rhondda Cynon Taff
Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway, Torfaen

"We have already seen considerable investment in the tourism product, and a raft of exciting plans to develop and enhance visitor attractions are now underway," said Mr Andrews.

"These, together with a number of other projects we are supporting, will make the region far more attractive to day visitors and will help chance perceptions."

In addition to funding the cycle network around the Heads of the Valleys, part of the money will go towards the 6m project to renovate the General Offices at the former Ebbw Vale steelworks.

It is due to be opened in two years as an interactive family history and genealogy centre.

The assembly government said that over the next three years, tourism investment in the region will top 23m.

It is hoped the projects will create an estimated 400 jobs, and attract an additional 355,000 visitors a year.

'Homecoming'

The new European money will also help support other projects in Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Torfaen.

Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones added: "I'm delighted that this funding will help to build a tourism infrastructure in the Heads of the Valleys area which will open up the area's cultural and industrial heritage for all to appreciate."

The theme is built on by the Heads of the Valleys Homecoming initiative which is also being launched on Thursday.

It hopes to capitalise on the worldwide interest in the 2010 Ryder Cup in Wales by persuading people to trace their Welsh roots.

"2010 will be the year when we invite people to find themselves in the valleys - to find families, to find their family history, to come back and visit," added Mr Andrews.


SEE ALSO
300m steelworks scheme go-ahead
20 Jul 07 |  South East Wales
Money for valleys culture centre
25 Oct 06 |  South East Wales

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