The money, from the European Regional Development Fund, local authorities and other sources, will be used to develop centres of excellence with the highest standard of facilities that will act as a hub for encouraging more sustainable tourism centred on Wales’ natural environment.
Speaking at the launch of the project at Coed Llandegla, part of the North Wales Cycling centre, Mr Jones said:
“These centres will provide world class facilities in a wide range of outdoor tourism activities and will showcase what Wales has to offer to visitors as a sustainable tourism destination.
“For example, here in Coed Llandegla and across north Wales, cyclists will be able to enjoy this outstanding natural environment together with the latest high quality facilities.
“In Snowdonia visitors will be able to experience top-class mountain biking, angling, walking, mountaineering, caving and water sports in an area of outstanding natural beauty. And in south Wales we will create an exciting and accessible off-road cycle trail network
“While those looking for a more gentle experience can enjoy the beautiful and historic gardens of south west Wales.
“These projects will be developed with the highest regard for the natural environment on which they rely and on strong sustainable principles.
"I hope these centres will attract more visitors to every corner of Wales and this demonstrates how serious the Assembly Government is about supporting this vital sector of the Welsh economy.”
Environment Minister, Jane Davidson added:
“I am delighted this initiative will allow more people to enjoy the outstanding natural beauty of Wales’ countryside in a sustainable way that minimises environmental damage.”
Today’s announcement comes on the same day as a new report demonstrated the importance of tourism to the Welsh economy.
The Tourism Satellite Account for Wales, compiled by Cardiff Business School for Visit Wales, found that tourists spent an estimated £4.2bn in Wales in 2007, and directly supporting 78,000 full time equivalent jobs.
Report author, Dr Calvin Jones, said that compared with figures for 2000 it shows tourism is of greater importance to the Welsh Economy than previously thought.
Dr Jones added:
“The report also found that around half (50.7%) of tourist spending is by those on tourism day trips. A further third (32.5%) comprises spending by UK-resident holidaymakers. International visitors comprise 8% of spending and business tourists around 6%.
"Whilst just over 40% of visitors’ spending was on accommodation and food, some 36% was on goods and services outside of identified tourist industries, demonstrating the wide range of services demanded by visitors, and hence the breadth of economic impact.”
The four projects are:
North Wales Cycling Activity Tourism Centre of Excellence
Total Investment £2,219,161 (ERDF: £944,951 and Local Authority: £1,274,210)
The Eryri Centre of Excellence
Total Investment £4,014,000 (ERDF: £2,061,000 and Gwynedd Local Authority: £1,953,000)
Off-Road Cycling Centre of Excellence for South Wales
Total Investment £5,020,000 (ERDF: £2,000,000 and Match Funding from other sources: £3,020,000)
‘One Historic Garden’ Centre of Excellence, South West Wales
Total Investment £4,563,338 (ERDF: £1,900,000 and Local Authority: £2,663,338)