Walking is a high tech treasure trove for North Wales tourism industry

A high tech treasure hunt craze is unearthing a new source of income for the tourism industry in North Wales.

According to Tourism Partnership North Wales, the growing popularity of geo-caching can help create a path to future prosperity for the region.

Fans use GPS – global positioning satellites – to guide them to a series of buried caches of items.

Promoting the area as the ideal place for geo-caching is part of a major drive to attract more walkers.

The Walking North Wales campaign is a key part of the strategy to turn the region into a top five UK visitor destination.

Walking is one of the most popular physical activities in Britain, with 44.5 per cent of adults regularly enjoying a walk of more than two miles.

The contract to run the £25,000 Walking North Wales campaign has been awarded to Llyn Pilgrim Way Holidays.

Managing director Peter Hewlett revealed they’re aiming to generate an extra £400,000 in spending by visitors over the next 15 months.

As well as targeting walkers from other parts of the UK, they’re also hoping to attract visitors from France, Germany, Belgium and Holland.

Mr Hewlett said: “The central objective of the contract is to increase significantly the number of people coming to North Wales for walking purposes, to bring more walkers to North Wales.

“We work with volunteer organisations like the Ramblers Association and assist with Walking Festivals and town trails.

“We’re also  pioneering new aspects of walking like geo-caching which is the fastest growing outdoor sport by miles.

“There’s a website with more than a million caches hidden worldwide and people go out into the countryside and hide boxes of varying sizes in interesting places.

“This is becoming increasingly popular because it converts a walk into a treasure hunt and it’s particularly appealing for families.

“Technology is becoming increasingly important in walking.  A lot of people these days use GPS though I think the majority still use a map and compass.

“One wonderful project in North Wales is the history point initiative where you can go to historic places and scan in a QR code similar to a bar code on your mobile phone to access information about things of historical interest.

“We run a blog which people read and hopefully get a good impression of North Wales as well as promoting walkers’ accommodation on the website.

“North Wales is a fantastic destination for walker with a diversity of walks from the more challenging to the gentler strolls, the complete spectrum in fact.”

It was a view endorsed by Dewi Davies, the Regional Strategy Director of Tourism Partnership North Wales, which is responsible for the strategic development of the visitor economy.

He said: “Walking is one of the top activities for people when they come to visit north Wales, and really we’ve got to capitalise on that.

“At least a quarter of our visitors do some form of walking, and it’s important that we get information about the great walks that we have here in north Wales.

“We started with under 20 iconic and important walks in North Wales and over the years we’ve grown that network of great walking opportunities for people to really get that breath of fresh air.

“Geographically, we’re very well placed as a destination for a day visit a short break or a long stay because we’re virtually on the doorstep of around 20 million people in the North West and the Midlands.

“That’s why we developed Walking North Wales that’s showcased on a very successful website with 50,000 unique visitors.

“We can’t rest on our laurels because we need to continuously invest in that website and increase on the social networking and provide people with yet more ideas of what they can do when they come for a walk in North Wales.

“The potential is huge. The visitor economy generates £2 billion in spending by visitors every year and a quarter of our visitors do some walking.

“We want north Wales to be a top five UK destination and Walking North Wales is putting us on the right road to realise our potential.”

For more information go to www.walkingnorthwales.co.uk

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