Tourism in Wales

Tourism in Wales

Wales is an emerging tourist destination, with 8,078,900 visitors to National Trust and Welsh Tourist Board destinations in 2002. []

In 2005 tourism in Wales supported over 100,000 service-sector jobs, more than 8% of total employees in Wales. The most popular activities undertaken by tourists in Wales were walking, shopping, and visiting historic attractions, museums and galleries. Over 1.1 million trips were made to Wales by overseas tourists in 2006. The main countries of origin of overseas visitors were the Republic of Ireland, USA, and Germany. [ [ Welsh Assembly Government | Fast facts ] ]

The capital, Cardiff is the most popular area in Wales for tourists, with 9.6 million day visitors in 2004, an increase of 8.4%, and provides 8,400 full time jobs. In the same year, tourists spent the most money in Gwynedd, followed by Conwy and Cardiff. [ News Wales: Cardiff visitors spent £456 million]

Reasons for tourism in Wales

Wales' history and culture have been exploited to attract tourists. The scars of the industrial revolution can still be seen on parts of the Welsh landscape today. The Museum of Welsh Life, which focuses largely on the industrial past of Wales, is currently the most popular tourist attraction in Wales, attracting over 600,000 visitors annually. Other historical destinations, such as the many castles - most of them built after English conquest during the reign of Edward I - across Wales, also attract large numbers of tourists.

The varied landscape of Wales also helps tourism. There are three national parks in Wales, the Brecon Beacons National Park, Snowdonia National Park and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Popular activities at the national parks include hill walking, hiking, canoeing, hang gliding, kayaking and climbing. Wales is also becoming increasingly popular for 'extreme' sports, such as surfing, mountain biking and downhill cycling (in which Wales hosts the 'Dragon Downhill Series'). The terrain of Wales has also attracted the World Rally Championship (WRC). The Wales Rally GB is held annually. The 2005 Wales Rally GB saw the first WRC stage to be set indoors, at the Millennium Stadium.

In Cardiff, the regenerated Cardiff Bay area, commonly shown on the cult TV series Doctor Who and the location for the spin off programme Torchwood, is one of the most popular destinations.

Another increasingly popular reason for going to Wales, as with the rest of the UK—especially by those from North America—is genealogy, with many visitors coming to Wales to explore their family and ancestral roots. 1.8 million United States citizens are estimated to have Welsh ancestral roots, including former presidents, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson. []

History of tourism in Wales

The Wye Valley witnessed the birth of British tourism in the eighteenth century. The area became widely known following the publication in 1782 of "Observations on the River Wye" by the Reverend William Gilpin. The first illustrated tour guide to be published in Britain, it helped travellers locate and enjoy the most "picturesque" aspects of the countryside, such as Tintern Abbey. The Wye Valley's particular attraction was its river scenery, and the many guidebooks, engravings and paintings ensured a continuing steady stream of visitors which grew after the building of a new turnpike road up the valley in 1822 and the opening of a rail line in 1865.

However, when George Borrow wrote "Wild Wales" in 1862 it is clear from his descriptions that the notion of tourism in more mountainous parts of Wales hardly existed except for the most intrepid traveller. Indeed he records that many locals regarded the mountainous and wild landscapes as monstrous and ugly rather than romantic or picturesque. It was only as the Victorian era developed that the concept of mountains and valleys as both interesting and visually pleasing landscapes developed. North Wales in particular benefitted from this changed vision with development of towns and villages such as Betws-y-Coed to accommodate the increasing numbers of visitors.

The changing face of industrialisation in the North West of England and in the Midlands, with increasing pay rates and the provision of paid time off for industrial workers, allowed many people to enjoy an annual holiday for the first time. Many chose to visit the seaside and resorts such as Llandudno, Prestatyn and Rhyl in North Wales, Aberystwyth and Barmouth in Mid Wales and Barry, Tenby, Swansea and Penarth in South Wales as well as many others were developed to cope with this burgeoning new trend.


Wales is connected to the rest of the United Kingdom (its principal tourist market) by road, rail and domestic flights. The M4 Motorway connects South and West Wales to Southern England and London. The A55 road is the principal route linking North Wales to North West England.

There are numerous rail links between Wales and England, including services from Cardiff Central, Newport High Street and Swansea to London Paddington, and from Cardiff Central to Portsmouth, Gloucester, Manchester Picadilly, Nottingham and Newcastle. Cardiff Central offers connections to the South Wales Valleys, the Vale of Glamorgan and West Wales, and Swansea offers connections to additional stations in West Wales. There are direct services from London and Birmingham to Holyhead via the North Wales Coast. Internally, there are services from Cardiff to Holyhead.

Cardiff International Airport is the main international gateway to South Wales, offering international and domestic flights. There are a number of budget airlines operating out of Cardiff, which are increasingly popular with tourists from within the European Union.Fact|date=March 2008 Internally, there are twice daily return flights from Cardiff to Anglesey with Highland Airways.

The country is also connected to the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland by car ferry services operating daily from a number of Welsh ports, principally Holyhead. These services are frequent and usually operated aboard fast ferries.

Tourist destinations in Wales

There are several towns and cities that are popular with tourists and visitors in Wales.

*Cardiff is the capital and largest city. Cardiff Bay is the site of the Wales Millennium Centre, a venue for the performing arts. The city's other major tourist attractions include Cardiff Castle, Millennium Stadium, National Museum Cardiff, Museum of Welsh Life, Cardiff Bay, Techniquest, Senedd, Pierhead Building, Castell Coch, Llandaff Cathedral, St. David's Cathedral and St. David's Spa
*Swansea is the second-largest city. Its attractions include the National Waterfront Museum, Dylan Thomas Centre, Plantasia, the Mumbles, Oystermouth Castle and Swansea Bay itself.
*Newport is the third-largest city in Wales. An influx of visitors are expected in 2010 when the city hosts golf's Ryder Cup, at the Celtic Manor Resort. Attractions include Tredegar House and Gardens, the Transporter Bridge, the ancient Roman fortress at Caerleon, St. Woolos Cathedral, the Westgate Hotel. The Big Pit National Coal Museum is located at Blaenavon, 15 miles to the north.
*St David's in Pembrokeshire is the UK's smallest city and resting place of St David and gateway to the Pembrokeshire coast and Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
*Bangor is between the mountains of Snowdonia and the Menai Strait and close to Anglesey. Bangor lies at the western end of the North Wales Path, a 60 mile long-distance coastal walking route, and is close to the Menai Suspension Bridge, one of the first modern suspension bridges in the world.

There are several features of the Welsh landscape that are popular with visitors:
*Mount Snowdon in Snowdonia is the highest mountain in Wales and a popular mountaineering destination.
*Pen y Fan is the highest peak in the Brecon Beacons in South Wales.
*Wye Valley AONB includes Tintern Abbey and Chepstow Castle.
*Offa's Dyke Path is a long distance footpath on the English border in the historic Welsh Marches.
*Taff Trail is a foot and cycle path running along the River Taff through the city and countryside, from Cardiff Bay to Brecon.
*Glyndŵr's Way is a long-distance trail between Knighton and Welshpool in Powys.
*The Gower peninsula is the first area in the United Kingdom to be designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in 1956. It is has a number of castles and sandy beaches, some easily accessible by car, some relatively remote.

ee also

* Museums in Wales
* Tourism in England
* Tourism in Scotland


External links

* [ Attractions North Wales] (Funded by Tourism Partnership North Wales)
* [ Visit Wales]
* [ Visit Wales - UK Short Break Holidays]
* [ Welsh Assembly Government]
* [ Welsh Luxury Hotels and Country Houses - Welsh Rarebits Website]
* [ B&B's and Small Hotels in Wales - Great Little Places Website]

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