But who are the Welsh businesses benefiting from this tourism boom, and what are they doing right?

Bluestone

Since its inception, Bluestone, Pembrokeshire’s 5 Star national park resort has become a by-word for luxury family holidays in the heart of Welsh countryside. Moments away from some of the coastal county’s incredible beaches and set amongst ancient woodland and wildlife, Bluestone’s success lies as much in its indoor appeal as its outdoor assets. Cosy, well -appointed cabins and lodges, an adventure centre and a tropical-temperature indoor swimming pool mean that even if the Welsh weather doesn’t always play ball, there are plenty of ways for Bluestone guests to continue to relax, enjoy their holiday and crucially for the industry, spend money.

Bluestone built on this indoor/outdoor appeal by embarking on a UK first - building a unique new SkyDome (called 'Serendome') on the Pembrokeshire site to bring nature under the cover of a giant transparent canopy; allowing guests to enjoy the fresh Welsh air, sit on the grass and play under the trees, and all without getting wet if it rains. The 7000 sqm area also includes new activities and a 500-seat amphitheater.

Zip World

Home to Velocity 2, the fastest zip line in the world and the longest in Europe, Zip World in Snowdonia builds on Wales’ industrial heritage by transforming former slate quarries and mines into a thrill-seeker’s paradise, with high speed zip lines, giant underground trampolining and a forest roller coaster. The area is also home to Adventure Parc Snowdonia, a world-first inland surf lagoon set in the lush Conwy Valley. Established and run by former Royal Marine Sean Taylor and leisure and construction specialist Nick Moriarty, Zip World is one of Wales’ fastest-growing businesses and brought in £121m to the North Wales economy in its first three years of opening.

Cadw

With more castles per square mile than any other country in Europe, Wales is a hugely popular destination for historical tourists who flock to the castle capital of the world every year.

Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, is responsible for 44 of these castles and 127 state-owned properties and sites in total, including three of Wales’ World Heritage sites - the Castles and Town Walls of Edward I in Gwynedd at Caernarfon, Conwy, Beaumaris and Harlech in north-west Wales; Blaenavon Industrial Landscape in south-east Wales; and Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal in north-east Wales.

Caerphilly Castle, the largest in Europe, has been rejuvenated as a visitor attraction in recent years, thanks in part to Cadw’s introduction of a family of dragons which attracted more than 500,000 visitors to the castle that year. Following a tour of Wales, the dragons will now permanently reside at Caerphilly Castle and Cadw has announced plans for a maze and dragons' lair, complete with animatronic models at the Caerphilly site as part of a £570,000 investment in attractions at the castle to mark its 750th anniversary year.

Afan Forest Mountain Biking Trail

Another famous feature of Wales is, of course, its hills and mountains and Wales really does have it all when it comes to mountain biking. With somewhere between 500km - 600km of purpose built spectacular singletrack, all weather trail centres, downhill tracks, freeride hotspots, skills parks and wild natural trails it’s no wonder Wales has become a hub for mountain biking tourists.

Capitalising on this tourism trend, Afan Forest in Neath Port Talbot has firmly established itself as one of the best riding spots in the UK. With several all-weather trails on offer, ranging from 7km to 40km, there’s plenty of ground to cover.

The forest has two visitor centres – Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre and the Glyncorrwg Mountain Biking Centre – which both feature all the necessary facilities for a long day out on the bike or even a weekend session. Being minutes from the M4, this world-class mountain biking facility is easily accessible from many areas of the UK, adding to its wide appeal.

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Andrew Gwatkin

Andrew Gwatkin

Director International Relations and Trade

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