The UK’s first online video map to promote tourism has been launched to help attract more visitors to North Wales.
The new map was unveiled at the annual meeting of North Wales Tourism and includes around 40 films from attractions, events and accommodation providers across the region.
According to managing director Jim Jones, they were now looking for more high end promotional videos to populate the map which can be accessed via the organisation’s website, www.gonorthwales.co.uk
The map can be used with North Wales Tourism’s new online itinerary planner which is also on the website.
Mr Jones told the meeting that the spectacular growth in the tourism industry in recent years was being driven by adrenaline-fuelled tourism.
That had been the spur to launch a new umbrella campaign, branding North Wales as the European Capital of Adventure.
Overall, the visitor economy is now worth £3.1 billion a year and employs 40,000 people.
He said: “We thought it would be a really good idea to launch the new video map as an excellent tool for visitors, showcasing North Wales through video.
“All the videos featured are from our members and they are a really good way to see what they can expect when they arrive at a destination.
“We’ve had a soft launch to make sure all the technology is working but we have the capacity for a lot more and that’s what we’re working on at the moment.
“I’m not aware of anything else like it in the UK and the same goes for our itinerary planner which is an incredible piece of software.
“Visitors can go to our website and can formulate plans using the information about the accommodation, attractions and activities.
“They can factor in their journey time, plan their dwell time and it can be printed out or sent via email in a nice, easy-to-read format.
“Essentially, we have put in a lot of work to make life easier for visitors and provide added benefits to our members.”
The aim, he said, was to capitalise on the huge investment that’s going into North Wales at the moment.
Mr Jones added: “Tourism is booming and it’s one of the biggest sectors in the region’s economy and as a business North Wales Tourism has seen a five per cent year-on-year growth.
“We are riding high and there is a lot of confidence in the industry too.
“You’ve only just got to look at Denbighshire Council who have invested £15 million in SC2 in Rhyl on the promenade which is a real game changer for them.
“Just down the road you’ve got Adventure Parc Snowdonia who are about to invest £15 million and potentially to have one of our first Hilton hotels in North Wales.
“The proposed new North Wales Hospitality Academy at Coleg Llandrillo which is part of the North Wales Growth bid would be another £15 million pound investment.
“Meanwhile, we have recently just been awarded £200,000 from Visit Wales to promote Go North Wales to our domestic market over the border in the North West and the Midlands with an array of exciting marketing activity, in addition funding will be used to promote business conference and events for North Wales.
“There is massive potential for growth and the North Wales Growth Bid is going to have a huge part to play in that because hopefully they are going to create the infrastructure and the environment in order for everybody to benefit.”
Among the guest speakers was John Irving, the chief executive of Liverpool John Lennon Airport, who said that North Wales was an important catchment for them.
He said: “We want to play a role as a gateway for the north west of England but also for the North of Wales.
“We’re at five million passengers now so we think in the next five years we can reach six million just growing the route network and getting some different carriers into the airport.
“There’s about 35,000 inbound passengers coming to North Wales at the moment through Liverpool and there’ll be many more coming through Manchester and via the rest of the UK.”
Lee Robinson, Transport for Wales’s development director for North Wales, told the meeting that on the ground there was an £800m investment to replace every train by 2023 in Wales and that 95 per cent of rail journeys will be made on brand new trains
He said: “We are investing £194m in station improvements and supporting development of metros in North and South Wales.
“We will engage with regional tourism organisations to develop an integrated rail and tourism strategy in line with Visit Wales’ ‘’Wales Way’ strategy.
The other speakers included Lawrence Wood, the principal of Llandrillo College, and Lise Roberts, the chair of the Helfa Gelf arts organisation.
North Wales Tourism chair Christopher Frost, who runs the Manorhaus boutique hotels in Ruthin and Llangollen, said: “We’ve had a fantastic 10 years or so with an increase in inbound tourism and outbound tourism and fantastic engagement with overseas markets also.
“North Wales Tourism has been instrumental in creating alliances and creating partnerships with both public and private sector organisations to promote tourism to our members across the whole world.
“It’s a very exciting time because of the amount business that is coming our way with an increase of a significant proportion compared to other regions of Wales and compared to other regions of the UK.
“Adventure tourism is very important and has seen massive financial input in the North Wales economy, which has impacted across the whole of North Wales.
“I operate in Ruthin and Llangollen and even the events and attractions in Snowdonia impact my business because people come and stay with me and drive an hour into Snowdonia to the Zip Wire or to do the surfing or that kind of thing.
“One consequence is that we are now attracting younger people to North Wales.
“Whereas 20 years ago, the demographic was 40 or 50 plus, the demographic we are seeing is mid-20s to 40.
“We can offer the best of both worlds. As well as the new adventure attractions, we still have the coast, the castle and the culture for those wanting a gentler time.
“We’ve added a new dimension to something that was already brilliant.”