NORTH Wales is fast becoming the adventure tourism capital of Europe with a world class portfolio of adrenaline-fueled outdoor activity providers, who are working together to draw in visitors and boost the economy.
That was the message from industry leaders at the Go North Wales conference where the best of the region’s outdoor leisure industry was being showcased, during Liverpool’s International Festival of Business.
A conference programme of expert speakers curated by Jim Jones, MD of North Wales Tourism, included the people behind some of the region’s major success stories including Surf Snowdonia, Zip World, Rib Ride, and Carbon Zero.
Phil Scott, who co-founded adventure boat tour company Rib Ride, hailed collaboration between tourism operators through initiatives such as the North Wales Adventure Map, as among the reasons behind the sector’s continued growth.
He revealed Rib Ride, which is celebrating a landmark ten years in business, has carried thrill seeking passengers the equivalent of four times around the globe in the last ten years.
Now operating from four ports across North Wales, Phil also revealed Rib Ride now carries more passengers a year than the cruise ships coming into Holyhead, and his ambition is to expand the business with a further 20 destinations across the UK.
He said: “North Wales has always been a starting point for adventure.
“Recently we have seen a shift from a region of attractions – things to do and discover once you are there, to a region of attractors, drawing visitors individually and collectively.
“All of these attractors now use the landscape, the culture and the history of North Wales, its innovation as the context for adventure.
“We now need to move to become a community of adventure, where every participant, every resident, every visitor, every business is an ambassador, a guide and a friend.
“We also need to ensure that we preserve and enhance the essence that created and inspired the adventure we have been on so far.”
He told the audience at Liverpool’s Exhibition Centre: “In this ten years Rib Ride has grown to become one of the leading attractors in North Wales. We carry more passengers a year than the cruise ships coming into Holyhead.
“During this time our RIBs have taken customers the equivalent of four and a half times around the world.”
Phil, who is also chair of the North Wales Tourism Forum, added: “The Adventure Map is a great example of collaboration between the leading outdoor adventure providers in North Wales, including Rib Ride, Zip World, the National White Water Centre, Surflines, One Planet, Plas y Brenin, Surf Snowdonia, Beacon Climbing, Dragon Raiders and most recently Always Aim High events.
“This year we are aiming to create an on-line community of helpers to further this goal.
“We hope that question will be answered by the virtual crowd in the cloud. Real world, real time adventure tourist guides.”
Also sharing their success stories at the GNW conference, part of a two-day Show Me Wales platform at the IFB, were visionary entrepreneur Sean Taylor of Gwynedd’s world famous Zip World, and Andy Ainscough of the major new Surf Snowdonia attraction in Dolgarrog.
Ashley Rogers, chairman of North Wales Business Council, outlined the renaissance of the North Wales tourism industry over the last decade, now boosting the visitor economy by a massive £2bn a year.
Award winning entrepreneur Gareth Jones, MD the Carbon Zero Group, shared his experience starting five new businesses in the last year including the UK’s first dedicated glamping construction company and UK Leisure Living which is on track to sell over £1 million pounds worth of hot tubs this year.
He set out his vision for a greener tourism economy, encouraging businesses to shout about their green credentials to attract in new types of visitor.
Delegates were entertained by speed painter Dave Sharp from Colwyn Bay who painted a stunning image of his Liverpool idol John Lennon in just five minutes, to the sound of a Beatles inspired musical soundtrack.
Dave, 32, said: “John Lennon has always been an inspiration to me and it was a privilege to paint him in his home city.”
Jim Jones, who curated the Go North Wales conference programme said: “Some people say Liverpool is the capital of North Wales and also people say that North Wales is the tourism capital of Liverpool.
“We have become one of the top tourism destinations not just in the UK, but in Europe.
“We brought together a fantastic programme of some of the real movers and shakers in North Wales tourism.
“Being here at the IFB in Liverpool has been a great opportunity to be able to showcase the best that North Wales has to offer.”
North Wales Tourism is the largest destination management organisation in Wales, with a growing membership of more than 1,000.
Jim is passionate about working in partnership to promote the region’s spectacular landscape, heritage, culture, food and drink, accommodation along with the adventure and family attractions.
Also speaking at the Go North Wales conference were Ben Taylor of International Motorsports, who is responsible for the organisation and commercial development of Wales Rally GB, the UK’s round of the FIA World Rally Championship.
David Reed of British Marine Wales, also a director of the Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales, shared his expertise in helping the sector to grow through developing public-private partnerships.
The Go North Wales Tourism Conference is part of the Show Me Wales event at this year’s International Festival for Business, at the Exhibition Centre, Liverpool.
It will sit alongside the Best of British Showcase, and follows the Show Me Wales Exhibition which is open to the public on Sunday 19 June.
For more information about North Wales Tourism visit: http://www.northwalestourism.co.uk/
To see the North Wales adventure map visit: www.adventuremap.co.uk